A Brief Biography
I first had the idea to become a writer when I was eight years old. My school library had a series of biographies about famous people. During third grade, that’s all I remember reading. I had just finished a biography about Louisa May Alcott. I went outside and climbed the mimosa tree in our back yard. I could be a writer, I told myself.
That’s how it all started.
(But for some strange reason, I never got around to reading Little Women until just a few years ago.)
Katy at Age 8
Some of My Favorite Books
As a kid, I read and read and read. I checked out a new book every week from my school library. My favorite books were The Borrowers series by Mary Norton. I also loved Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, the Little House series, Mary Poppins, My Side of the Mountain, and ghost stories. I still have many of the books I had when I was growing up. When my two sons were young, I read these aloud to them. Now I’m saving these for future grandchildren.
Katy and Nan
Andy at age 12
Definitely looks like someone who'd beat up his kid sister
I grew up in a small town in Tennessee, the youngest of three kids. My sister Nan was twelve years older than me. She had rheumatoid arthritis and was already in a wheelchair by the time I was born. My brother Andy was five years older, and his favorite sport was picking on his little sister. But Nan always made me feel special. She constantly told me how smart I was and reassured me that I was a “neat little kid.”
Nan and Andy
(Nan died in 2001)
Just a few weeks after my tenth birthday, my mother died suddenly. When I was twelve, my father remarried. My stepmother Elisabeth and I were a disappointment to each other. She wanted a girly girl—a daughter who was popular and wore dresses and went to parties. But I was a tomboy who preferred jeans and grubby sneakers. I was more interested in climbing trees and riding my bike.
For the next six years, my home became a very tense place. Elisabeth was a perfectionist who wanted everything her way. If she didn’t get it, a dramatic family argument usually followed where she threatened to divorce my dad. Books were my favorite way to escape, to get away from my sometimes unhappy home life and enter a different world. Shortly after I left for college, my father and stepmother did finally divorce. I will say this for Elisabeth—it was her idea to send me to summer camp. The five summers I spent away at camp were the happiest of my life.
Katy with creative writing students, 2013
I went to college at the University of Oklahoma because Nan was there working on her PhD. After college, I moved to Arizona and got a master’s in English. For many years, I worked as a college English instructor, teaching at community colleges and at a large university. I often taught the required composition courses that all college freshmen have to take. And I also taught creative writing classes—my favorite.
Family Vacation, 2007
My husband Eric and I now live a quiet, happy life in northern Arizona. We both work from home. We love to travel. My sons Jackson and Ethan are grown up and busy with their own lives. I still love to read.
And writing books for young readers is my dream come true.
Katy and Eric, August 2019