2017 Conference Faculty: Kathi Appelt

Meet the faculty of the 2017 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.


Kathi Appelt, Author

Kathi Appelt is the New York Times best-selling author of more than forty books for children and young adults. Her first novel, THE UNDERNEATH, was named a National Book Award Finalist, a Newbery Honor Book, and the PEN USA Literature for Children Award. That was followed by KEEPER, which was named an NCTE Notable Children’s Book and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Her memoir, MY FATHER’S SUMMERS, won the Paterson Prize for Young Adult Poetry. Ms. Appelt was presented with the A.C. Greene Award by the Friends of Abilene Public Library, which named her a “Texas Distinguished Author.” Her novel, THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP, was named a National Book Award Finalist and won the Green Earth Award, the Texas Institute of Letters Award, and the Judy Lopez Memorial Award. Her most recent picture book, COUNTING CROWS (illustrated by Rob Dunlavey), was a finalist for the Writers League of Texas Award, and her newest novel, MAYBE A FOX (co-written with Alison McGhee) was named to the Texas Bluebonnet Master List. She and her husband Ken live in College Station, TX with five adorable cats, Django, Peach, Mingus, Chica and Jazz.


Kathi Appelt
Kathi Appelt

What attracted you to children’s books?

My own kids, actually. When my boys came along, one of the few things I knew to do with them was to read. So I did, and in the process I fell in love with their books.

What’s the best part of your job?

My cat assistants. They’re a source of inspiration and amusement.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Just when I think that one aspect of my work is most challenging, something changes. It’s all a challenge. If not, everyone would do it.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?

M.T. Anderson once told me to “write what you think you can’t.” That made all the difference. It’s when I get out of my comfort zone that I do my best work. I’ll always appreciate that.

Come see Kathi at the 2017 Austin SCBWI conference, May 20-21, 2017