Author Interview: EMILY KILGORE
It's a new week and therefore a new author interview!
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Emily Kilgore has been surrounded by the magic of books all her life. As both a writer and elementary school teacher, she strives to create books that foster empathy, welcome imagination, and spark a natural curiosity. She has written for various education publications, and The Whatifs is her debut children's book. When she's not writing or working, she enjoys traveling, running, and spending time with those she loves. Originally from Duluth, Minnesota, Emily now lives in Minneapolis with her husband and kitty.
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Twitter - @EmilySkeie
Facebook - “Author Emily Kilgore”
Cora is constantly worrying about everything. Because of this, the Whatifs love her. They sneak up to her and give her all kinds of doubts: big or small, silly or frightening, likely or impossible. As she prepares for an upcoming piano recital, the Whatifs cling on tighter and drag her down, making her anxious about messing up during the concert. Will she be able to change her worry-filled thoughts into hopeful ones?
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Who are you and what do you write?
I’m Emily! I grew up on the shores of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota and now live with my husband and kitty in Minneapolis. I’m an elementary teacher and lifelong learner who enjoys asking questions, exploring the world (well, pre-COVID anyways), and hearing people’s stories. I write picture books and can’t wait for you to read my debut, THE WHATIFS.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I’ve been surrounded by books my whole life! My father is also a writer, so some of my earliest memories are of him reading his stories to my sister and me. He showed me that writing was a valuable and worthwhile pursuit, so I’ve always loved to write -- always wanted to be like him. After college, I took writing more seriously. As an elementary teacher, I read picture books to my students every day and absolutely loved teaching kids to write (it is still my favorite “subject” to teach!). Kids are so creative and inspirational, so it didn’t take long for me to realize I wanted to write specifically for them. I began writing silly stories in my classroom during our Writer’s Workshop but would also continue that work at home, on weekends and breaks from school. That’s a long-winded way of saying that I’ve been writing my whole life but have had more focus since becoming a teacher.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
It’s been thrilling! I partnered with my agent -- Adria Goetz of Martin Literary Management -- in 2018, after a couple years of querying. It felt too good to be true, as she signed me on my birthday! I knew from the moment we talked on the phone that she’d be a great advocate for me and my work. She immediately fell in love with THE WHATIFS, so it was clear that it would be the first work we submitted to editors. After a slew of revisions and months of submissions, THE WHATIFS landed with Little Bee. I couldn’t be more happy with my experience-- from the moment my book was signed, the team at Little Bee has been nothing but supportive. They paired the story with Zoe Persico, whose art is absolutely incredible. Her illustrations brought THE WHATIFS to life in ways I couldn’t have even imagined. There’s always a lot of waiting involved in the publishing world, but the journey of THE WHATIFS has been well worth the wait!
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
Hardest: The unknown. Being that THE WHATIFS is my debut (coupled with my own anxiety, which is absolutely full of what-if questions), everything is new and unknown to me. I often worry about what I don’t know, if I’m doing too much, not enough, etc. so having Adria by my side and an editor who’s open to questions has been invaluable.
Most enjoyable: All of the “firsts”: first contract, first advance, first glimpse at the illustrations, first time I’ve held my own ARC, first reviews . . . I know these firsts are special so am savoring each one. It’s an incredible feeling!
Would you go back and change anything?
Honestly, I really wouldn’t!
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
Oh gosh, this is such a hard one to answer right now! I can’t say where I’ll be in 5 or 10 years. I do hope, though, that my loved ones and I are healthy and that I have more books out in the world to share with young readers. I would love nothing more than to keep creating stories.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Read, read, read and write, write, write. Absolutely inundate yourself in your genre and then try creating it, too.
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? Neither (to my husband’s chagrin)
Night or Day? Day
Inside or Outside? Outside
Dogs or Cats? Cats!
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter
Ebook or Paperback? Paperback
Sun or Rain? Sun
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? Pencil and notebook for drafting, keyboard for revising
Comedy or Drama? Comedy
Chips or Chocolate? Skittles!
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