Introduction of Katrina McKelvey – Children’s Author

Name: Katrina McKelvey
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Katrina McKelvey is a children’s author, former primary school teacher, wife, and mother to two tweenagers and a cocker spaniel. She’s written many children’s picture books and educational readers including No Baths Week, Up To Something, Isla’s Family Tree (April, 2020), and Chasing Rainbows (August, 2020). She’s highly involved in CBCA, SCBWI, literary conferences and festivals, and loves visiting schools. She’s left-handed, loves tea and rollercoasters, and is addicted to mint chocolate. While in lockdown in Disney World a few years ago, she survived Hurricane Gene (Category 5) by eating awful brownies. Come for a visit:

1) What was your background before you started writing?

I grew up in a country town. I had a happy childhood, playing with my sister, riding my bike and climbing trees. I left the country straight after finishing Year 12 and went to university to study primary school teaching. I’d wanted to be a teacher since I was in preschool.

Teaching was exactly how I imagined it would be. I enjoyed teaching for ten years, learning how children learn and grow, and inspiring them to be better. It was a very rewarding career.

I left teaching to be a stay-at-home mum. I enjoyed watching my own children grow, learn, and change in those early years. It was a pleasure that most busy, working mums dream of. But the creative side of me wanted more, so I started a new career as children’s author and I haven’t looked back.

2) How were you introduced to writing?

The first major event I attended was the Sydney Writers Festival in 2011. I completed a workshop about how to get published with Jacqueline Harvey. From that day I was hooked – Jacquie was amazing.

Then I attended a few local, creative writing courses with WEA.

A year later I completed a 6-week course with Libby Gleeson. Libby was divine.

I also completed workshops and attended author/illustrator talks with Frances Watts, Leigh Hobbs, and Alison Lester. The inspiration was flowing by now.

3) What was the one thing that impressed you the most about becoming an author?

The rewards you feel and experience from your readership after a new book comes out is priceless. I underestimated that reaction and how important it is to use it to keep going in between books.

And the support from within the children’s publishing industry. I have made so many lifelong friends along the way.

 4) How is your writing making a difference for you right now?

I love how the themes in my books create conversations in families and the classroom. Isla’s Family Tree is helping children feel more connected to their families. I’m starting to see handmade family trees from my readership. This is just beautiful – especially during a pandemic and everyone is self-isolating.


5) As a child, what was your relationship with books?

I didn’t have one. I disliked reading as a child. I’d rather climb a tree and ride my bike instead. I spent my childhood climbing on things and playing with the neighbourhood kids. I played basketball and board games. I did puzzles and picked flowers. I was busy but I didn’t have my nose in books. I didn’t find the book until I was in my twenties. It was called, Just Tricking by Andy Griffiths. I found him first!

6) What is the most important thing about what you want to do?

All I want to do is get children to think about and respond to my books. How they do this will be different for each child. Some may read them for enjoyment, to relax, or to escape a busy day. Others may start conversations with friends and adults. Classrooms may make word lists, write something creative, or do an art/craft activities. Families may chat, laugh, and share childhood stories. I hope the children and adults who read with them are changed or moved in some way and want to read them over and over again.

7) Do you believe books can change the world?

Yes! Knowledge and education are powerful things. Anything linked to the arts is extremely valuable. So, books, art, music, dancing, and so on should be available in abundance to everyone.

8) What is your ultimate goal?

To write more books that entertain, inspire, and promote thoughtful conversations.

9) If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

Hopefully after this pandemic, people will value their social interactions more.
And the world needs to have a slower pace. It was too crazy before. We have the time now to stop, think, re-evaluate what’s important, and make new plans.