Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Interview With the Author Marilyn Kallet

My new favorite author, Marilyn Kallet has a wonderful children's book out called Jack the Healing Cat , illustrated by Sandra Van Winkle. My four year old son loves this book and there could be no better choice reading for fighting off our winter colds during the holiday break! Marilyn is the author of 14 books, including her latest, The Movable Nest: A Mother/Daughter Companion. I am a huge fan and decided to ask her a few questions for
inspiration...and what a Great Inspiration she is!


Please tell me a little about your childhood. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Are you a Tennessee native?

I was born in Montgomery, Alabama, my mother's home, and grew up in New York, where my fatherwas raised. There was always a mini Civil War in the house, and my mother never forgave him for the transplant.

Where did you go to college?

I did my undergraduate work at Tufts University and at the Sorbonne, and my graduate work at Rutgers in Comparative Literature.

What was your first published book?

My first book was poetry, DEVILS LIVE SO NEAR, from Ithaca House, 1971.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Anywhere and everywhere--I've written lots of love poems and poems about family history, but also about race and history, about the Holocaust and my family (many of the older generation were caught up in Germany. Jewish identity is an important subject for me. JACK THE HEALING CAT was a true story, about our beautiful tabby and his positive influence on our little family.

How many books have you written?

14 books.

Do you have a favorite among them?
I like my recent poetry book, CIRCE, AFTER HOURS, from BkMk Press. It has a wide range of subjects.

What was the book you most loved as a child?

My mother used to read me the UNCLE WIGGILY stories when I was really little. I craved them. As long as my mother was reading to me, she was still with me. When I got a bit older, I was addicted to the Nancy Drew stories. I liked the smart, active girl hero.

What would you say is the most fulfilling part about being a children's author?

The response of children to stories is nothing short of miraculous. One of my colleague's has a son who kisses the pages of the cat book.

What inspires you to write?

Everyday life. I just try to stay alert. I also write from dreams and teach a course on dreamwork.

How do you feel about the importance of small publishing companies?

They are tremendously important to writers and to the quality of literature in general. They open doors for writers that may lead to the larger companies and a wider readership. The little presses take chances on us; they produce handsome, well-crafted books in which we authors have a voice.

Do you think it's important to choose a good title for your books?

Titles are crucial! They are the first thing to grab an editor's attention--and then to draw in the reader.

Can you briefly describe your latest book?

My latest book is THE MOVABLE NEST: A MOTHER/DAUGHTER COMPANION, an anthology of mother-daughter writings.JACK THE HEALING CAT is also new, as you know--a book for ages 1-6, about a cat that teaches a family gentleness and involves mutual rescue.

What made you decide to use the art of Sandra Van Winkle for your book? Can you tell me more about her and her work?

Sandra came up to me in the Fresh Market in Knoxville and asked me if I had any projects that needed illustration. As it happened, my first illustrator had bombed on this project. So I said, "Yes!"

Are there any children's authors that you admire?

So many! Let me mention Jeff Daniel Marion's HELLO, CROW--from Orchard Books. It's a poem and a story, a model of spareness.

What tips/advice would you give to aspiring authors and illustrators?

For writers--take a workshop or join a writing group, to get good feedback on your work. Illustrators need mentors too--

Do you think writing communities are beneficial to writers?

I think they are crucial to our survival. Writing is a lonely task. We need dialogue, feedback, support.

Where can we go to read more about you and any new books you may have coming out in the future?

I have a website, http://www.marilynkallet.com/. Please keep me posted on your work as well. With huge thanks, Marilyn.

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