28th July 2018
Interview with Katie Hagaman
Good afternoon, Ms Hagaman. Thanks very much for giving up your time for an interview. For people who aren’t aware of you already as an author, how would you describe yourself?
Absolutely! Thank you! Fun and creative, I hope. I love to share the vivid color and life from the world around us in what I hope is a different and unique way.
What made you first want to write?
Well, I sort of fell into it by accident. I had a lot of anxiety growing up, and really struggled with debilitating panic attacks. I was online one day and stumbled across a roleplaying forum, and I just...joined. It ended up being a coping mechanism that pulled me out of a really dark place. Writing gave me confidence, and let me see a part of myself I didn’t know existed. It emboldened me in the loveliest way. We can find out worlds about ourselves through writing.
I think that’s very true. Could you describe your recently published work, “In This Book You Will Find”?
The book is all about encouraging children to stick with reading. So many times I’ve come across kiddos (and adults for that matter) who say they don’t like reading, and I know it’s simply because they haven’t explored the world of books enough! There are so many different genres out there, and In This Book You Will Find is about sharing a glimpse of that. It also encourages children to take matters into their own hands. If they can’t find the story they want to read, then they can create it! They can do it!
As a teacher, I’m in favour of anything that gets children to pick up a book and read for fun! Do you think it’s difficult for books to compete for children’s attention against social media, computer games and the like?
To a degree, yes. I think good reading habits start early. But if those aren’t taught and it’s up to the prospective reader to make the choice, juicy bait can be needed in certain cases lol Hooking the reader with visuals or a punchy, fun, or mysterious part of the story never hurts! And who doesn’t love just diving in anyway. :)
What made you decide to write poetry for “In This Book You Will Find”?
I enjoy rhythm in children’s book. There is something endearing, familiar, and fun about it. It also serves as a great tool for memorization and learning.
What would you say are the unique challenges of writing poetry as opposed to prose?
I think the idea of poetry is far more intimidating than it actually is. There are definitely times when a writer experiences more flow and ease. But as with all things, practice is key! It’s important to not be afraid to try, and to just push through. Words can be always be changed, so they aren’t anything to be intimidated by in the writing world.
What do you feel is the key to writing successfully for children?
Honesty. Children are great at sniffing out authenticity, even in writing! Just be you. The trickle-down effect of that is important.
I understand that you illustrated your book yourself. Do you think that authenticity of expression is important there too?
Oh, absolutely! Everyone has a unique style and seeing a plethora of them encourages personal exploration of art. Knowing that there isn’t a single technique or format to follow opens doors. I think we hold ourselves back a lot because of the ‘comparison monster’. We don’t think we can live up to something or someone else. But we all have gifts that are beautiful simply because they’re different. That’s worth sharing in any realm.
That’s a beautiful sentiment! Do you have a routine that you stick to with your writing?
Honestly, not really. I wish I could have time set aside for writing, but with the unpredictability that is parenting and a day job, I have to take the chance to write whenever I get it!
I completely sympathise - I have three of my own! Do you think your experiences as a parent helped you to write “In This Book You Will Find”?
Hah! The struggle is real. But absolutely! It was actually the backbone of the project. Ever since my daughter was born, we’ve read every single night. It’s a precious bit of family time that I covet. One night when we were reading, my daughter said, “We should make our own book.” ….Yes! Lol And that’s how it happened. I thought to myself, why not? So, we talked about what we would want our book to be about, and she had so many ideas, and then that very fact became the foundation of the book.
I feel the same way. There’s something very special about night time stories. Did your daughter help with ideas for the book?
Yes, so much in the sense that she wanted the book to be about so many things! Lol In that way, we decided it should be about all of them.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to yourself at the start of your writing journey?
Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help from others. There is so much experience out there to tap into if you just shelf the pride!
I’ve found the writing community on Twitter to be very positive and supportive. Which other authors inspire you as a writer?
Children’s authors from my youth; Karen M. Glennon, author of Miss Eva and the Red Balloon. Mercer Mayer, author of There’s an Alligator Under My Bed.
Children’s authors from adulthood; F. Isabel Compoy and Theresa Howells, authors of Maybe Something Beautiful. And everything that Catalina Echeverri either writes or illustrates!
Do you have a new work in progress at the moment?
Yes! It’s actually completed and waiting in the wings for publishing. It’s another children’s book entitled, “Haven’t You Heard?”. The piece is about the many ways we can see God sharing his love for us in the world around us, and how to look for it even more.
I’m also working on my first novel! It’s a shift in gears, but a challenge I’m really enjoying and super excited about. I’ve wanted to write one for over a decade so… why not!
That’s a really interesting idea for “Haven’t You Heard?” Will you be using the same combination of poetry and illustration? And, if it isn’t spoiling too much, can you give us a few hints about the novel?
Thank you! And yes! It will be filled with vivid illustration and sweet poetry. I’m so excited to share it. Hopefully, publishing will be more sooner than later!
And absolutely! Love, war, social injustice, and reconciliation. While the story will be an adventurous sci-fi/fantasy read, it’s laced with actual, faulty societal influences, in hopes to draw attention to those flaws in order to raise awareness and hopefully spur change in the reader.
If people would like to engage with you on social media, what’s the best way to do that?
Twitter is an absolutely awesome way to connect. I can be found and followed @hagaman_kl.
Thanks again for your time!
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share!