Guest Post: Kathryn O. GalbraithInsatiable ReaderAuthor of Planting the Wild Garden
I feel like a kindred spirit as I am, indeed, an insatiable reader. When I am asked where do I find time to read, my answer is always the same. Where do I find time to breathe? Finding time to read has never been a problem. Why? For me, reading is my reward, my passion, and an important source of inspiration. A day without reading is like a day without salt – completely flavorless.What do I read? It depends. When I am working on a picture book, I read stacks and stacks of them. The same is true when I’m working on a chapter book or a middle grade novel. Reading them not only inspires me, but also gives me a sense of freedom and permission to try new topics, new approaches. As writers, we are so very lucky. We can choose our mentors and visit them whenever we wish by reading and rereading their books.Where do my ideas come from? Planting the Wild Garden (Peachtree, 2011) had a quiet beginning. The idea came as I was walking through a meadow and scrubby fields. There I saw small brown rabbits and goldfinches feeding on seeds and grasses. I jotted down those images in my notebook. Months later while looking for ideas, I reread my notes and realized the link between them – that in eating the seeds, the rabbits and birds were helping to spread new plants that they and others depended upon for food. So the two givens right from the beginning were rabbits and goldfinches. Raccoons were added to the list almost immediately as were squirrels. Then I added water/rain/streams and wind. With those images, I began to add the plants themselves. I did a lot of research – trying to find three confirmations for any fact I used. But research is not writing. For me, the voice of the story is one of the most important elements of any manuscript. After lots of fiddling, when I wrote, “The farmer and her boy plant their garden”, I knew the story was on its way.Arbor Day Square (Peachtree, 2010) began years ago after I read an editorial about Arbor Day. If I’d just read the article and tossed it away, I never would have written Arbor Day Square. Instead I cut it out and taped in my writer’s notebook where it sat waiting for me. Later I went back to it and slowly a story emerged, not of the first Arbor Day, but of Katie and her Papa in their new prairie town and the town’s need for trees – “trees for climbing, for shade, for fruit and warm winter fires, for birds and for beauty.”Only after I had written Arbor Day Square did I realize that there was at its core an echo of the prairie world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of my favorite authors as a child. Katie’s story too touched me in another way. Moving to the Pacific Northwest as an adult, I love the beautiful firs, pines, and evergreens which dominant the landscape here, but I still miss the oaks, elms, maples and chestnuts of my childhood home in Michigan.So where do my ideas come from? I guess you could say that they come from bits and pieces of my own life, from my interests, family, travels and curiosity – and from my writing notebook!----------------------------------------Author BioI grew up in Plymouth, Michigan, with four brothers, two birds, one dog and lots and lots of books. I always felt - and still do feel - lucky to have so many brothers. I felt sorry for girls who only had one or two. When I write about boy characters, they all seem have a little bit of Chuck, Tom, Ed, or Jim in them.Dogs were always an important part of our family. When I wrote the three books about the roommates, Beth and Mimi, I gave them a wonderful dog named Willie - who is a little bit like our old dog, Bootsie. I haven't written any books with birds in them yet, but someday I will.Today I live in Washington State with my husband Steve and a dear little dog named Teddy. And, of course, our house is filled with lots and lots of books.I began writing in the second grade and never stopped. I've written twelve books plus four more under contract and hope to write at least a dozen more. Sometimes I get letters from young readers asking if my stories are true. Did they really happen to me? The answer is both yes and no. No, the stories didn't happen just as I wrote them. But yes, each story - the heart of each story - is true.
QUICK NOTE...Update: 9/7/19
First of all, my heart goes out to all those affected by the recent heinous weather outbreaks, most recently being Hurricane Dorian. We were right in the path of Hurricane Michael (like so many others), and we're still trying to get back in our home. Things are very slow to progress towards normalcy...and every day presents a new headache/nightmare to deal with. Hopefully by month's end, we'll be back in there to start the next leg of recovery. Thanks for stopping by and sharing my bookish adventures. It helps remind me I'm not alone in this crazy journey called life.