Monday, March 18, 2019

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 15: Author Kathi Appelt

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Kathi Appelt and I discuss her first young adult novel, ANGEL THIEVES, as well as her many wonderful picture books and middle grade novels. She reveals her writing and research process and is very candid about the highs and lows of her publishing career, from the runaway success of THE UNDERNEATH to the tale of the picture book that took 17 years to finally be published. We also discuss religion and politics and are generally impolite, as authors ought to be. We even say a naughty word apiece, so look forward to that and more in this amazing episode packed with outstanding advice for writers from a master of the craft.

Click here to see Kathi Appelt face the 7 Questions.







Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows. She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband.

Here's something I wrote about Kathi in a previous blog post:  I met Kathi Appelt at a conference surrounded by writers who thought she walked on water (could be she does), and she made a point to seek me out over all those adoring fans and thank me for my review of The Underneath. She didn't have to do this, but it took all of a minute of her time to do it and it was a great thrill for me, not to mention a crucial instruction on how a great writer ought to behave that I'll never forget.

I've since bought other books by Kathi Appelt and I'm more likely to recommend her over other authors because she created a lifelong fan in a single gesture. I firmly believe that Kathi Appelt is more successful because she makes a habit of doing things like this and creating fans one at a time adds up over a writing career.




An ocelot. A slave. An angel thief.

Multiple perspectives spanning across time are united through themes of freedom, hope, and faith in a most unusual and epic novel from Newbery Honor–winning author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt.

Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis is an angel thief. After his mother’s family rejected him for being born out of wedlock, he and his dad moved to the apartment above a local antique shop. The only payment the owner Mrs. Walker requests: marble angels, stolen from graveyards, for her to sell for thousands of dollars to collectors. But there’s one angel that would be the last they’d ever need to steal; an angel, carved by a slave, with one hand open and one hand closed. If only Cade could find it…

Zorra, a young ocelot, watches the bayou rush past her yearningly. The poacher who captured and caged her has long since lost her, and Zorra is getting hungrier and thirstier by the day. Trapped, she only has the sounds of the bayou for comfort—but it tells her help will come soon.

Before Zorra, Achsah, a slave, watched the very same bayou with her two young daughters. After the death of her master, Achsah is free, but she’ll be damned if her daughters aren’t freed with her. All they need to do is find the church with an angel with one hand open and one hand closed…

In a masterful feat, National Book Award Honoree Kathi Appelt weaves together stories across time, connected by the bayou, an angel, and the universal desire to be free.



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