Local author encourages youth to write books

Carol Jankowski - District 709
Author Kate Klise, pictured, encourages fifth grade students at Lettie Brown Elementary to start writing their own books. Klise has authored many books, including a series that starts with "Regarding the Fountain" and "Deliver Us From Normal." Klise grew up in Peoria and collaborates with her sister, Sarah, an illustrator.

The name on the book cover came to life for fifth-grade students at Lettie Brown yesterday.

Author Kate Klise spoke to the students about how she became a writer and also how to start a book of their own.

"I have the most fun in the world writing books," Klise said. She has authored picture books and fiction for children. Her book, "Deliver Us From Normal," is about a family from Normal that is far from "normal."

Klise did not just talk about her books, though. She used most of the time with the students brainstorming and encouraging them to create characters and problems for those characters.

She creates unusual names for the people in her books. She challenged the students to help her think of names that sounded like illnesses. Together they named Arthur Itus and Larry N. Gitis.

"You like this idea? It's fun," Klise said about making up names.

Klise started writing books when she was 10 years old and her family had to make gifts for each other for Christmas. After her older sister threw that book in the garbage, Klise said she worked on how to make her books more interesting.

"That is the day I became a writer," she said.

That first book was about a mouse that went around stealing snacks from vending machines. That early experience made her realize the story needed to include a problem and the character then needed to find a way to solve the problem.

"You have to have your characters want something they can't get very easily. Then, they have to be changed," she said.

Klise showed the students a manuscript that she is working on and she talked about how to re-vise and re-write. She also showed the students a slideshow presentation that had revisions of the illustrations used on a book cover. Her sister, Sarah, is the illustrator for her books.

"The changes you make are more subtle but they make all the difference," Klise said about the revisions in the book and in the illustrations.

As she left, Klise challenged the students to write their own book.

"What about writing a book for Mother's Day? Get in the habit of writing something and giving it away," she said.

Barb Blanco, librarian at Lettie Brown, said this event was out of the ordinary. Klise spent a little more than an hour at Lettie Brown Elementary.

"I've met many authors, but I've never been able to visit like this before and share my students like this," she said.

Klise grew up in Peoria and went to St. Mark Grade School and graduated from Academy of Our Lady/Spalding Institute. She is also a graduate of Marquette University. Her book, "Regarding the Fountain," is the first book in a series and it is a companion book in the Peoria Reads program.

For a complete listing of her books and further information, go to www.kateandsarahklise.com. Her books are also available at Morton Public Library.