I had the pleasure of meeting Kari-Lynn at a fellow torkidlit author’s book launch, just this past month. She is full of energy, enthusiasm, and smiles. Kari-Lynn has a deep love and appreciation for literature, and she participated in the recent AirLift to LA! initiative with Helaine Becker and Access Books. Approximately 5,000 books were donated through this outreach to an empty school library in L.A. (Click the above link for pictures and info.)
Meet Kari-Lynn Winters.
Please introduce yourself to us.
My name is Kari-Lynn Winters. I am an advocate of literacy and the arts. I have won awards for my picture books, plays, mentorship/teaching, and my academic research. Sixteen of my picture or poetry books have been accepted for publication. I am an experienced teacher of writing, who has taught a range of students in Canada and the United States, including pre-school, special education, primary and intermediate, high school, and university teacher education. Additionally, I am an assistant professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. My research interests include: drama in education, children’s literature, authorship, and multimodal literacies.
Tell us about your most recent books.
This year I had two books published.
When Chickens Fly (Illustrated by Izabela Bzymek; published by Gumboot Books, 2010) is about a chicken who wants to be a free range aerialist. However the Arranging Committee at the Snow Sports Competition will not let her compete—because the rules say that barnyard animals cannot compete! This humourous picture book brings up themes of equity and fairness, and resonates with the 2010 Winter Olympics (when the Organizing Committee would not allow the female ski jumpers to compete).
Runaway Alphabet (Illustrated by Ben Frey; published by Simply Read Books, 2010) introduces two characters (Nan and Pa) who explore the sights and especially the sounds of the winter carnival. This unique alphabet book focuses on the sounds of the letters, and in this way, becomes a stepping stone for literacy for young readers.
When and how did you start writing?
How much has your background played a role in your writing?
People used to always say to me, “It is too bad that you spent all that time studying drama, when what you really wanted to be was a teacher.” I just laugh to myself. Drama has never been a waste of time for me—not as an educator, not as an author, and certainly not as a professor. It shows me how to present my ideas to others, how to think through plots and about characters, how to beat out a story, and most importantly, how to be more human. Drama is anything but a waste of time.
Were you an avid reader as a child?
I was never an avid reader as a child. I learned to read late (grade 3) and couldn’t read well until I went to university. Today, I am still the slowest reader around. But now I am motivated to read. I see the power that reading holds. I also see the imagination that reading brings to my life. I love to read, especially picture books, magazines, theories, and plays. I see now that reading is actually writing in your mind’s eye—for me they are one in the same. I actually create the imaginary worlds, the text just helps me to visualize it a little bit clearer.
What advice would you give your pre-pub’d self?
1) If you think you can do it, you can.
2) There is no need to be competitive. Give to others (go to book launches, talk to others about people who inspire you, buy the books of others, turn books face out in bookstores, ask for help, etc.) People in this field, especially in Canada, are (for the most part) generous and encouraging. There is enough room in the world for your stories, her stories, his stories, and my stories. We must stand together as authors to inspire and educate the world about how important books (including picture books—see the NY Times article about picture books) are and how engaging literacy can be.
Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write your first book?
What do you find to be most challenging about being a writer? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part of being an author is never being able to turn off that switch. Indeed, stories are constantly swarming around us. I want to write it all. The most rewarding part of being an author is sharing stories with others, and giving back. I love this part of my job. Nothing beats an engaged audience, who are loving your books. I write books so that I can share them with others.
Do you think in words or images? How do you craft your scenes? Do you see them? Hear them?
I guess you could say that I embody stories—which drives my son nutty, especially when he has friends over. I say phrases out loud and play with the words. I act out the parts and constantly think about the images. It is a bit like a puzzle. This is the only way that I know how to write.
Can you share a favorite quote with us?
Those who cannot imagine, cannot read.
Thanks so much for this opportunity! Write-ON!
Thanks, Kari-Lynn! It was great meeting you, and getting to know you a little better.
More information about Kari-Lynn can be found on her website.