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Interview: Karla Kane


A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue Five: New Beginnings with a sneak peek of the poem "A Message From The Compost Pile" by Karla Kane. A white page with black text and a cartoon graphic of a compost bin.

 

Karla Kane is an award-winning writer, editor and musician based in California. Best known as the leader of the indie-pop band The Corner Laughers, she lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology. She loves oak trees, ancient history, indoor cats, cozy cups of tea, public libraries and playing make believe.

 

Little Thoughts Press: In addition to being a writer, you are a musician. Can you talk about how these two creative outlets interact for you? In what ways does music inform and influence your writing practice or vice versa?


Karla Kane: I think there is a lot of natural overlap between writing songs and poetry – there’s playing with rhyme and rhythm in both cases. But with songs, there’s music as a partner to the lyrics, to interact with and support them. I think with my songs there is more potential for stream-of-consciousness or abstraction or topic-hopscotching than with the poems (and with songs I’m not usually writing with a particular audience – e.g. children – in mind). Of course, I’m pretty much brand-new to the poetry world so who knows how things may evolve. I’ve also been a journalist for quite a few years now, which is of course a totally different type of writing, but I’m sure it all connects on some level. One thing I enjoy in all three types of writing is trying to express thoughts, feelings or information in a concise little package (which I am failing to do with this response, probably!).



Little Thoughts Press: Issue 5: New Beginnings is all about fresh starts and new experiences. Can you tell us how you started writing kid-lit and what drew you to creating stories for young readers?


Karla Kane: When I was a child, I liked writing poems and stories (although I was also quite shy/embarrassed about it). Once I got older, my writing was mostly in the realm of songs or nonfiction/journalism, as mentioned above. I’ve always loved the world of children’s literature, though, and I’ve also spent some time working in schools, and playing in some children’s music bands. But the start of actually writing some poetry for kids, as a grown-up, happened only a few months ago. My daughter is an avid reader and she and I both enjoy the short stories and poems in her magazines. I suddenly had the notion that maybe I could give it a try myself and I feel very surprised, gratified and honored to have been getting publication opportunities and connecting with the kidlit world as a late bloomer. New Beginnings feels like the perfect theme for me at this point.


Little Thoughts Press: What do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for a young audience?


Karla Kane: Well, there is the internal confidence challenge of not feeling “good enough,” of wanting to make something worth readers’ while. I’m not very prolific or disciplined as a writer – I like to feel that “spark” of inspiration and that’s really not a very dependable or practical thing! But it is fun. It's always most rewarding if I can make my daughter smile with a poem.



Little Thoughts Press: Which kid-lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?


Karla Kane: Oh my gosh, this and the next question are so difficult for me to answer because I have SO many beloved favorites! But to name just a few … Frederick’s Fables by Leo Lionni and Our Animal Friends on Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen had and continue to have a huge impact on me. The whole Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, classics like The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes and all its companion books … you can tell I am both an animal lover and an Anglophile. Oh, I absolutely adore all the work of Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I also loved ghost stories and my two favorites are Pam Condrad’s, Stonewords and The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed by Bruce Coville.



Little Thoughts Press: And what about today? Any kid-lit writers you love and want to shout out?


Karla Kane: One of the best things about being a parent is going back to reread so many of my old favorites with my daughter and seeing them again through her eyes. But there are also SO many amazing new books and authors, too, that once again it’s hard for me to decide which to mention! Right now we’re really enjoying The Big Dreams of Small Creatures' by Gail Lerner, and another favorite from recent months is Coo by Kaela Noel (both deal with animal communication, in fact). And the Skunk and Badger books by Amy Timberlake … I'm lucky enough to have had some poems published at the Dirigible Balloon , and its first book collection, Chasing Clouds, is full of marvelous poems of all sorts. Thanks to journals like that and LTP, I am rapidly being introduced to new writers from all over, which is very exciting.



Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?


Karla Kane: Read, read, read! Mostly because it’s super fun, but it also exposes you to new ideas, styles and potential inspiration. And when you do write, don’t get stuck on trying to make something “perfect.” You don’t need to feel shy or embarrassed about sharing it like I did (but it’s OK if you do!). There will likely be some rejection and it will stink, but it happens to every artist at some point. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep writing.



Little Thoughts Press: Is there anything else you wish I had asked? Any upcoming projects, publications, or other news you'd like to share?


Karla Kane: Most of my musical stuff can be found at www.cornerlaughers.com (as well as on itunes, Spotify, YouTube and all the typical places like that). We have some special performances coming up this spring and summer, as well as verrrrry slowly working on some new songs. In terms of other writing, I usually try to share links on social media, so stay tuned!


 

You can find Karla on Twitter @cornerlaughers.














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