|K. A. Applegate|
K. A. Applegate at the 2013 Texas Book Festival.
|Born||Katherine Alice Applegate
October 9, 1956
Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
|Pen name||L. E. Blair; Katherine Kendall; Beth Kincaid; A. R. Plumb; Pat Pollari|
|Genre||Children’s fantasy, science fiction, adventure novels|
|Notable works||The One and Only Ivan, Animorphs|
|Notable awards||Newbery Medal
We know about the socially complex lives of elephants: how they communicate, how they bond, how they even seem to grieve. We have ethologists in the field and activists on the ground to thank for that knowledge.
I grew up with a menagerie of dogs, cats, gerbils – not to mention three younger siblings.
I hate to witness animals in captivity – or see circus elephants paraded down the streets. When animals are caged, it's a loss of what they are.
It occurred to me that a food drive would be a natural way to talk to kids about hunger, which so many of them simply aren't aware of.
I think all writers write from the time they're really young, and you just start asking the question, 'What if?'
I think we have a real obligation when we do have animals in captivity to understand their needs and to care for them as well as we can.
Stan is a rescue Chihuahua mix. He was the role model for Bob, the dog in 'Ivan.' The drawings in the book look precisely like Stan.
As a species, we can at times be dimwitted and cruel. But we're also capable of learning.
One of the reasons I love writing for middle graders, besides their voracious appetite for books, is their deep concern for fairness and morality.
What do we lose without wild animal acts at the circus? Absolutely nothing, except the opportunity to be haunted and heartbroken.
I grew up in an affluent suburban world and never worried about money until I'd grown up and found wonderfully original ways to screw up my life.
When we have financial struggles, kids are so much more aware of things than we want them to be.
I live in a high-rise apartment building, so I just have two cats. They're both pound kitties. One of them, Dick, is an evil, foot-biting cat. When I write a tiger morph, I'm always imagining Dick.
One of my first paid gigs was writing psychology quizzes for 'YM,' a monthly teen magazine like 'Seventeen.'
I was sure I wanted to grow up to be either a veterinarian or a writer. In fact, I worked for a vet during high school, doing everything from cleaning cages to assisting in surgery.
I tend to write short, brief snippets – I lean toward the chamber music end as opposed to the symphony end of things.
I think having imaginary friends is an amazing coping mechanism. It's pretty wonderful, and it makes a lot of sense to me.
I've got to believe I'm the first person to win the Newbery who has written a Harlequin romance!
I was writing at a really young age, but it took me a long time to be brave enough to become a published writer, or to try to become a published writer. It's a very public way to fail. And I was kind of scared, so I started out as a ghost writer, and I wrote for other series, like Disney 'Aladdin' and 'Sweet Valley' and books like that.
I think younger readers connect so readily to animal characters because they share a certain vulnerability, particularly when it comes to adult humans, who can be a rather unpredictable lot.
I really love writing, but I am very easily distracted: my two cats fighting, a rainbow, a TV show… I have to use every trick to keep myself at the computer.
At the end of the day, I'd love to see children stop begging their parents to go to the circus. That's what would make me most happy.
When I was a child, going to a circus with wild animal acts was a rite of passage. These days, it's an act of complicit cruelty.
I think I was 9, and my mom ordered them for me from a catalogue. They bred like crazy, and I was selling gerbils all around Michigan. They wrote a story about me in the local newspaper.
I think most writers will say that at the start of each book they think, 'I'm not sure I can do this.' But eventually, you reach a magical point where the story suddenly becomes real to you, and you become totally invested in it.
That penetrating gaze, that intelligence; it's hard not to be anthropomorphic when you're looking at a great ape – at any primate – but especially with gorillas. They're just so magnificent.
Gorillas may seem terrifying because of their bodies, but they are really magnificent and very gentle.