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Author Interview: Kelly Bennett

What inspires you to write?

Children inspire me. Watching them, listening to them, considering this complicated world through their eyes. Children are so full of hope and trust, and so brave.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

When brainstorming a story, I have to circle the idea by gardening, walking, moving—much the way one must feign disinterest to catch a leprechaun. Finally, when the story reaches a mental full-length feature film stage in my mind, I chain myself in my office, door closed, pen-pencil-computer in hand and write a draft straight through. I’m not saying it will be a pretty draft, or a complete one—and it will have huge holes and references only I can decipher, but it will be

Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?

Overcoming my self-doubts. There are so many books already published, and so many brilliant writers creating now, I have to push the critic off my shoulder and tell myself, my words will make a difference. There are children out there waiting for my stories.

What are your current/future projects?

My current delightful obsession is my new picture book: NORMAN ONE AMAZING GOLDFISH, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick Press). This sequel, fifteen years after publication of NOT NORMAN, A GOLDFISH STORY, backstroked into stores September 8, 2020.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

One constant in my writing routine: poetry! St. Patrick’s Day, 2017, I began a poem-a-day challenge with a writing friend, and aside from one excused absence, have never missed. We now create our own 7-Minute Poetry Prompts and share one per week on my blog, Kelly’s Fishbowl:

Poetry aside, writing is my full-time job. My actually sit-down-and-write routine varies greatly depending on where I am and who else is sharing the space with me. I am easily distracted—Squirrel! Squirrel!—and have serious FOMO so no coffee shop writing for me. However, every day I spend several hours doing something writing related: read, study, take classes, or revise. And I critique picture book manuscripts professionally. In addition to that, I take one day a week to focus on the business side of being a writer.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?

I’d trust more in myself and my ideas, spend less time following rules and spend more time trying to push boundaries with my work.

Do not take work to a critique group before it is a solid draft.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Children’s Book wanna-be authors and illustrators, join SCBWI! Join a critique group of folks writing in the same genre as you write.

* What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?

Contact Kelly via her website:

Snail mail: Kelly Bennett

PO Box 1094

Westhampton Beach, NY 11978

Got Questions? About writing, friends, school, pets, life in or outside the fishbowl? Ask Norman:


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