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Author Showcase

Spring 2005 Featured Author, Katrina Martin Davenport

RT: You have written seventeen books for children. Why did you select Denise’s Mold as the debut book for publishing?

Katrina Martin: The order chose me. Denise's Mold was the first book I'd ever written. It was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to, Windstorm Creative, and therefore, it's the first book I'll have published. When I think about the odds of this happening, it's hard for me to believe that it really is happening. I sent my next book, Chanda's House, to Windstorm about two months after they accepted Denise's Mold. It was accepted last year. The other 15 books are part of Windstorm's My Adventure series, a project the publisher started last spring. They put out a call for submissions and they accepted 15 titles from me. I'm now also under contract with Windstorm to write a series of early reader chapter books, so those are forthcoming as well. And of course, I'm working on something all the time. Right now I have a mid-grade chapter book in the works, as well as a poetry book, and an inspiration book for artists.

RT: According to your Web site (http://www.kmdavenport.com), there are more books about Denise to come. How do you envision the series unfolding? Will all of the books have curriculum companions?

Katrina Martin: The original idea for the series was to think of books teachers could use in their classrooms in subjects that don't normally use picture books. When I taught fifth grade as a student teacher, I remember thinking it was difficult to incorporate literacy into science lessons. Denise's Mold is a good way for teachers to introduce their "mold unit." They can read the book at reading time, and then use the lesson plans in the back as their introductory lesson. It's all right there. It would also be a great tool to use in teaching about the use of microscopes. To get story ideas for the rest of the series, I've been looking into other science topics elementary teachers explore, and I'm combining those ideas with adventures my mom had as a child (and ones I've had as well). And yes, all of them will include curriculum companions--I think that is one of the main things that set Denise's Mold apart from other picture books out there and I want to continue that uniqueness. Teachers can use these either as lesson plans or spring boards for their own planning.

RT: At the end of the book, you offer some ideas about growing and studying mold. Will you be doing these experiments when you visit schools?

Katrina Martin: Certainly. I will likely have a little section of my refrigerator for growing mold when I start school visits (but don't tell my husband). I hope to create slides for children so they can see what mold looks like under a microscope. I'm a big believer in hands-on learning. If children can see and touch and smell the things they're learning about, it makes it much more real for them. Plus, mold is gross and kids love things that are gross.

RT: At a time when we have been decrying how girls have walked away from the sciences for at least a decade now, your Mom broke the mold (no pun intended) and became an award-winning, career scientist. You chose to be a writer, instead. What are your hopes for the message this book will deliver?

Katrina Martin: My main goal is to encourage young girls to be whatever their heart tells them to be. I love the idea that a young girl might read my book and think, "I love science. So did Denise. She became a scientist and that means I could be a scientist, too!" I also love the idea that a young girl might read my book and think, "This woman wrote a book. I love to write. That means I could be an author, too!" Or it could inspire girls to explore their garden or learn more about how things work in the world. Any one of those things would be wonderful. Beyond that, I think it is sad that girls and women, as you say, are walking away from the sciences. I want to convey the message that if you love something enough, you'll be able to succeed at it. I don't want girls to think that science is not for women. This book shows them the exact opposite, and it also demonstrates that all it takes, initially, to be a good scientist is to have the curiosity to find out more about the world.

RT: You have a busy year ahead, as Denise is only the first of several books you’ll be releasing this year. Can you tell us more about the other stories?

Katrina Martin: The next book, Chanda's House, will likely be released within the next year, either late winter or early spring. It is a book about me when I was in first grade. I had a wonderful friend from India, and one day we went to play at her house. It was so different from mine in every way it scared me and I didn't want to go back. But eventually I learned that the differences in people are what make them special, and this book demonstrates that. As with Denise's Mold, Chanda's House has extension materials, including a glossary of Indian words I use in the book. The My Adventure series is scheduled to be released en masse in August. There are more than 50 books in the series, and I've written 15 of them. This is a highly interactive series that allow kids to make the stories the authors write unique by adding their own words. They even get to put their name on the cover. Titles include My Adventure to a Volcano, My Adventure in the Redwood Forest, and My Adventure Collecting Bugs.

RT: You’ve been writing since you were seven, starting with a journal. How did your career come to evolve from newspaper reporter to children’s book writer? Do you have a favorite target audience that you like writing for? If so, why.

Katrina Martin: I started out in high school thinking that being a journalist would be the greatest career ever. I worked as editor-in-chief for the high school paper, moved on to be an editor at the college paper, and had several good internships at local papers, including the Denver Post. It was while I was at the Post that I began to wonder if journalism was right for me. I had to cover a horrible, fatal accident Labor Day weekend, probably my third weekend on the job. The next weekend I had to cover a suicide-murder. Writing about such painful and private moments of people's lives was not why I wanted to be a journalist. Then, nearly a year later, I was asked to cover a high school student's funeral. I refused. I'd found my boundary and I left the paper. I was told that I'd either have to do such assignments or lose ground getting ahead in the business. It wasn't worth it to me to stay. Shortly after, I went into teaching. I found that, although I loved being around children and I found many parts of teaching rewarding, it was not for me either. I yearned to write and I knew I wouldn't be happy until I was writing full-time. I often found myself writing poems or book scenes as I sat in my teaching courses. After I got my teaching license, I made the decision to write. A month later, I submitted Denise's Mold to Windstorm, and two months after that, I had my first acceptance. I know this is exactly what I should be doing. And I also know that working as a reporter and working as a teacher both gave me invaluable knowledge that helps me write books for children. My favorite target audience right now is 8 to 10 year-olds. Perhaps this is because I spent the majority of my time as a student teacher in a fifth-grade classroom, and often substituted in third, fourth, and fifth-grade classrooms. Children at that age are becoming better writers, learning to pay attention to their environments, and have an infectious curiosity about their worlds. Their energy is amazing and contagious. I enjoy maintaining a connection with this age group by writing for them. Plus, some of the best books out there right now are books written for children this age.

RT: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Katrina Martin: I want to let everyone know that Denise's Mold contains another feature that sets it apart from other picture books out there. Each copy of the book will contain a CD that includes a Future Book, which is a multi-media read-along version for PCs and Macs. The CD also features a live track of me reading the book that can be used in any CD player. I am thrilled that Windstorm is helping me reach out to my readers this way! Also, part of being an author is getting to meet my audience. I am looking forward to going to schools and meeting my readers. Teachers and parents can find out more about visits at my web site and they can contact me directly to set up readings or presentations. I am looking forward to interacting with the young minds that inspire me to write!


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