Posted by: nancyisanders | January 7, 2011

Author Interview: Kathleen M. Muldoon

Meet Author Kathleen M. Muldoon!
E-mail: muldoonkatie@hotmail.com
Web site: Ministry Through the Written Word

Bio:
Kathleen Muldoon is a retired journalist and current writing instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has authored sixteen children’s books, nonfiction and fiction, in the educational and Christian markets, as well contributed stories to children’s book anthologies. Her stories have appeared in such magazines as Bread for God’s Children, My Friend, My Light, Primary Treasure, On the Line, and Primary Days; she also writes devotionals for Living Faith Kids! She is a bimonthly columnist for Action, a national publication of United Spinal Cord. When not writing for children, she enjoys teaching writing workshops and adult continuing education courses, as well as writing stories and articles for adult inspirational publications such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Guideposts.

Featured Book:
Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children’s Market
by Kathleen M. Muldoon

“Many writers tend to think that writing for children is somehow easier than writing other types of material. This book reinforces the truth of the matter—writing for children is often the hardest but most rewarding of writing endeavors. The good news is that Kathleen Muldoon understands how to do it—and most important—is able to teach you how to effectively break into this field. She also understands not just the how-to of the writing, but the spiritual ramifications of what you might write for children.” (from Foreword, Sowing Seeds…, Sally E. Stuart)

Interview:
Q:
Describe a highlight for you personally while you were writing this book.
A: I loved the opportunity to really think about the process of writing for Christian children, and to put into words my feelings about the impact writers for this market can have on their young audience. Writing this book was different for me than was writing any other book; the words seemed to bubble up and flow. I became one with what I was writing, and I often would be surprised when I looked at the clock and found I’d been writing for five hours straight—even skipping lunch!

Q: What inspires you most as a writer?
A:
I have to say it’s reading. For everything I’ve ever written, I can go back and point to something I read that gave me inspiration to put pen to paper—or, fingers to keyboard—and spin that inspiration into a story, article, or book plot. Sometimes my daily Bible reading will lead me to think about a particular passage; for example, one morning while reading a Gospel account of Jesus healing a deaf man, I got to thinking about the reality of being deaf—never hearing the birds sing or a child’s giggle or the tinkle of a wind chime. That turned into two published pieces, an article for a Catholic newspaper on a local church that ministers to the deaf community, and a children’s hi/lo book, Checkmate (Perfection Learning, 2005), in which the main character’s dad is deaf. I’m always amazed when one of my writing students tells me that he or she has no time to read; to me, a good writer must be a good reader.

Q: What steps did you take to become an instructor for children’s writers?
A:
I had never really thought about teaching adults how to write for children until the opportunity presented itself. When I majored in writing at the University of Pittsburgh, my goal was to establish a freelance writing career, which I did build over time. My first teaching experience was through a literacy program, for which I was trained in a particular method to teach reading to illiterate adults. I loved it! I first taught writing to senior citizens who wanted to write their life experiences—I did this through a community program, Oasis. When a writing colleague told me that the Institute of Children’s Literature was looking for instructors to teach the art of writing for children, I first looked into the school’s background. I was impressed that it had been in business for over 30 years and was highly respected. Their detailed and painstaking examination of prospective instructors’ backgrounds and publishing histories also impressed me. By the time I successfully completed this process and was hired as an instructor, I took part, at the school in Connecticut, in an intense week-long in-service that covered every aspect of the course I was to teach. I am now in my eighth year of teaching for ICL. One benefit of teaching is that I learn from my students, too!

Q: Share one tip you would like to give someone who is just starting out as a writer for children.
A:
Surround yourself with children, be they your own, your grandchildren, neighborhood kids, a youth group at church—in my opinion, it is impossible to write for children unless you are immersed in their world. Today’s children are not you when you were young. Kids today don’t use typewriters; they don’t dial telephones; most girls don’t wear dresses to school, nor do most boys wear knickers. Today’s children think, act, and speak differently than we did. In “my generation,” the biggest concern at school was probably whether or not to snitch on a classmate who I witnessed cheating on a test. For today’s child, that concern might be whether or not to ignore the gun and/or drugs stashed in the next locker. Listen to the youth around you and care about them. This will reflect in your writing for them.


Responses

  1. Wow, I wish I could have an instructor like Kathleen. However, I can’t afford ICL right now anyway but am thankful there are instructors like she is. Praise God for her ministry. Perhaps I can afford her book. Wish she could come to SC for the February Write2Ignite conference; it is for Christian Children’s Writers.


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