Today I welcome debut middle grade author Kellye Crocker who I met at our SCBWI conference three years ago. As I shared yesterday, this past weekend was our first return to a big in-person conference. Our region has so many wonderful authors and illustrators that back in the winter all of our independent bookstores came together to celebrate local treasure Andrea Wang, whose book WATERCRESS, illustrated by Jason Chin won the Caldecott Medal, the Newberry Honor, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Picture Books, just to name a few. At this wonderful gathering, I ran into Kellye who told me about DAD’S GIRLFRIEND AND OTHER ANXIETIES. I knew I wanted to share this wonderful book with you, dear readers! Kellye has agreed to give one lucky winner a copy of DAD’S GIRLFRIEND AND OTHER ANXIETIES, so comment on the blogpost to enter the giveaway.
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
Hi Laura! Thanks for having me. I’m so excited to be here!
I was a pasty bookworm kind of kid. I also liked to listen to music and make up dances with my friends. I was an only child until I was almost ten. My sister was born in the spring when I was in fourth-grade. (She’s one of my best friends.)
I had great teachers and loved school. Except for math, which still gives me hives. I’m grateful to Mr. King, my fifth-grade teacher, for letting me write stories that were as long as I wanted—even if I needed extra time to finish. Like my main character, Ava, I had a lot of worries. I wasn’t diagnosed with anxiety until I was an adult, many years ago, but I think I’ve always had it. I was a latch-key kid and wore my house key on a ribbon around my neck. For some reason, I wasn’t nervous coming home to our empty duplex. I liked the independence of getting myself a snack, watching Brady Bunch reruns and having privacy to call my friends (our phone was attached to the wall!)
What inspires you?
This is a tough question, because the first thing that pops into my head is EVERYTHING. I was a journalist for many years, and, to do that job well, it helps to be curious. I’ll often read some news story—or even watch a movie—and the next thing I know, I’ve lost an hour or two researching some small, random thing that came up.
I love all kinds of stories—books, obviously, and movies, but also TV shows, long-form journalism, podcasts, plays, stand-up comedy. I love all kinds of music, everything from alternative to classical to pop to hip hop to soundtracks. (One of the best jobs I ever had was working at a record store—remember those?—when I was a teenager and into my early college years.) I love art—looking at it, including Denver’s wonderful street art—and also making it.
I’ve had to be very careful with Covid because I have underlying health issues. So, I haven’t traveled much in the past couple of years. But I really enjoy visiting big cities—and I also love getting away and into nature. (See? Everything!)
For writing inspiration, specifically, nothing beats a well-written book. I always learn something in a class or at a conference, too, and I enjoy craft books. Talking to my friends about good books, writing, and creativity also always inspires me.
What’s something you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope readers discover an entertaining story that touches their hearts and that they realize there is more than one way to be strong and brave.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a middle grade novel set in the Victorian era. I wrote the first draft ten years ago, and returned to it this past year. I did a big revision recently, but it’s a mess, and I’m trying to figure out what it’s really about. I have a habit of (unwittingly) trying to squeeze more than one story into a novel. As I was answering your question about inspiration, I realized: No wonder I struggle with this! So many things interest and excite me, and I guess I try to put them all in!
I’m also working on a nonfiction picture book that’s been really fun. There’s a YA idea that’s nudging me, too.
In my personal life, my husband, Mike, and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary Oct. 17—the day before my book comes out! He is the kindest person I know and makes me laugh every day. I am so grateful for his support.
Readers can find Kellye at: kellyecrocker.com Twitter: @kelcrocker. Instagram, but not often: @kellyecrocker.