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Kate Klise Reads from Her First Adult Book, In the Bag

Kate Klise Reads from Her First Adult Book, In the Bag

by Diana Davis, Walrus Contributor

Kate Klise

Kate Klise

On Tuesday, June 26, Kate Klise came to Left Bank Books in the CWE and read from her first adult fiction book, In the Bag.The idea for the book came from a chance encounter while she was flying to Atlanta. A secret admirer put a note in her carry-on luggage which said he had seen her and wanted to know if she’d like to meet. He left his e-mail address. She had to admit that she was intrigued.  Since she had yet to meet Mr. Right, she took him up on the offer.  They exchanged a few e-mails before he told her that he had a wife back home which, of course, ended their communiqués.  She didn’t really think about it again until someone asked her “So when are you going to grow up and write a novel for adults?”  Well, the rest you might say is “in the bag.”

Klise does not normally write adult fiction. She is, however, a multi-award-winning author of children’s fiction and has just released a children’s book titled, The Phantom of the Post Office, on May 5th. She was signing copies of both books at the event. She has another book coming out on July 3rd. It’s a story about a little lamb with a larger than life grandmother, titled Grammy Lamby and the Secret Handshake.  Klise has previously published 19 children’s books.   Awards for her books include – the California Young Reader’s Medal, the Illinois Rebecca Caudill Award, the Young Adult’s Choice Award, the Quill Award, Missouri Writer’s Hall of Fame.  The list goes on and on. “Writing for children and young adults is not that different from writing for adults,” she stated, “The situations are the same. Life is hard, but you have to hang in there, overcome the difficulties, and get on with it.”

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Klise spent 15 years as a correspondent for People magazine, covering everything from country music to reality television, from rappers to rockers, and serial killers. When she wasn’t reporting, she wrote a weekly column for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.  The big change in her life came when the Post fired her, which she says was one of the best things which ever happened to her.  It allowed her time to write her books.

Today, Klise lives on a 43 acres farm down in Norwood, MO, a small town about three hours south of St. Louis. She adores the music of Jimmy Webb, and her favorite song is Wichita Lineman. Along with her writing, she offers workshops for young writers through the local school districts.  In addition, she volunteers to teach writing to the inmates incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri.

When asked about her writing style, Klise said she believes in writing a fast and messy first draft. She wrote In the Bag, all 360 pages, in 30 days. Klise believes that you should not stop to polish the first draft—just get it down on paper.  After that, you can go back and make your revisions. If she is visualizing writing, she does not see it as lineal events where a reader moves from one point to another, but rather, like a circle—an old-fashioned clock if you will—where you start out at 12 o’clock and at 1 o’clock you have a major problem – the protagonist must go on a journey or quest to resolve it.  At 9 o’clock the problems start to be resolved, but then other problems or misunderstandings occur which cause additional tensions that must be resolved.  By 11:30, problems get corrected and misunderstandings get smoothed over.  When the clock reaches twelve, the book has come full circle and ends on a satisfactory note. She believes that this formula is true of all books, and also, of all movies.

If there is going to be a slump in the writing, it usually happens at around 4 o’clock.  It’s about then that writers are sick of writing and sick of the story. They want to jump to 9 o’clock and just write the ending.  Many authors just stop there, without pushing through to the end.  When Klise hears someone say they have 5 novels started and none of them finished, she believes that they failed to push past the four o’clock slump and complete their works. That’s why she holds steadfast to the “fast and furious first draft” rule. Write and don’t stop until the story get to midnight.

In the Bag is an interesting book which looks into the lives of four main characters – Andrew, Webb, Daisy, and CoCo.   All it takes is some red wine, a ruined dress, and an accidental exchange of luggage to bring them all together for the fun to begin.  In the Bag is just the ticket for light summer reading!

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