The Backstory: POET, PILGRIM, REBEL: THE STORY OF ANNE BRADSTREET, AMERICA’S FIRST PUBLISHED POET
Katie Munday Williams joins us today to share the backstory behind her debut, POET, PILGRIM, REBEL: THE STORY OF ANNE BRADSTREET, AMERICA'S FIRST PUBLISHED POET (Beaming Books, 2021) with illustrations by Tania Rex. Keep reading to learn all about this fabulous picture book biography and for your chance to win a critique from Katie.
Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind POET, PILGRIM, REBEL: THE STORY OF ANNE BRADSTREET, AMERICA’S FIRST PUBLISHED POET.
First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.
Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel is a picture book biography about Anne Bradstreet, the first person to be published in the United States. As a woman and a Puritan, Anne faced a multitude of challenges in fulfilling her goal of becoming a writer. I tried to convey not only Anne’s struggles, but something so many of us writers have faced–the inability to turn away from writing, even/especially in the face of adversity.
I am so intrigued and want to know more! I can't wait to get my hands on this book. I appreciate the message of overcoming diversity and even more your focus on her need to write. This could be a conversation starter for students about discovering their own passions and a great lesson about not giving up.
What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?
The idea to write about Anne jumped into my head one day when I was mulling over story ideas. I had found out a few years prior that Anne is something like my Great-grandmother x 14, so I felt a bit of a connection with her already. Plus, her poetry is profoundly beautiful and still relevant over 400 years later.
What an amazing connection to your subject!
How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now POET, PILGRIM, REBEL: THE STORY OF ANNE BRADSTREET, AMERICA’S FIRST PUBLISHED POET? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?
I find with writing that it’s best if I just jump into it and worry about the details later. Having said that, this story went through MANY versions and revisions before it became even a shell of what it is today. I played around with different points of view, settings, periods of Anne’s life… what helped the most was using mentor texts like Jen Bryant’s Six Dots. When I thought I had a pretty solid draft, I hired a wonderful editor who helped me fine tune even more. I firmly believe that investing in editing made all the difference.
Thanks for sharing what this process looked like for you. It can be fascinating to look back at earlier drafts and remember the evolution that some of our manuscripts go through.
Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?
I find my ideas everywhere! Sometimes it’s something one of my children says, other times it’s something that flashes by on Facebook or the news. I try to leave my mind open because you never know what will turn into a gem!
Isn't that the truth? Creating an awareness of all of the ideas surrounding us and being able to recognize and capture those sparks as they pass by is a valuable skill.
What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?
There are too many books to list in this category! I tend to love anything by Barbara Kingsolver because of her beautiful imagery; Isabel Allende for her magical realism, and in kidlit, Jane Yolen and Kate Messner are just two of my many favorites.
Amazing authors to be inspired by! I always feel re-inspired after reading through books by my favorite authors.
What are the must haves for your workspace? Tools? Inspiration? Reference materials?
To be honest, I don’t need much more than my laptop and the internet. I’m a bit of a roaming writer, so I steal snippets of time here and there, wherever it’s convenient. I like to picture myself in a cozy office with a warm blanket over my lap and a steaming cup of coffee for company, but the reality is that sometimes my writing is just me cramming notes into my phone for later while I rush through the grocery shopping!
Thank goodness for the notes app! I love how well you capture the ideal versus reality in your response. While a cozy office or picturesque view would be great, I think many, many of us are juggling responsibilities and stealing bits of time here and there to fit writing into life.
Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?
There are so many resources available to writers, and the writing community is so accessible–make use of these opportunities and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! A crappy first draft is better than no draft at all.
YES! Our doubt can be the biggest hurdle to making forward progress in this industry. And I would add, one of those absolutely wonderful resources are the other writers who make up the kidlit community. There is always someone willing to help, lend their knowledge or provide feedback if you are just willing to put yourself out there.
Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?
I recently signed with a wonderful agent, Suzy Evans with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, so I’m excited to have new stories out there on submission. There will still be lots of rejections, but as a working mom, it’s nice to have one more person in my corner!
Congratulations on signing. Having that partnership is so valuable. I wish you both the best of luck and am hoping you will hear good news in the very near future.
Where can people connect more with you?
I’d love to connect with others! I’m easily accessible on social media:
Author Website: www.katiemundaywilliams.com
New Books for Kids (debut authors 2021): https://www.newbooksforkids.com/
Readers be sure to connect with Katie on social media and don't forget to check out her debut, POET, PILGRIM, REBEL: THE STORY OF ANNE BRADSTREET, AMERICA'S FIRST PUBLISHED POET (Beaming Books, 2021) with illustrations by Tania Rex.
Katie, I can't thank you enough for stopping by to share all about POET, PILGRIM, REBEL. I loved getting the behind-the-scenes look at how this story came to be.
Katie is generously offering a pb manuscript critique to one lucky winner.
Ways to enter:
1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!
2. Leave a comment on this post.
3. Like our FB page and comment on this week's post.
4. Post about this interview on FB/Instagram and tell me in the comments that you did.
Each method earns an extra entry!
ABOUT KATIE MUNDAY WILLIAMS
Katie Munday Williams is a Public Health Nurse, Lactation Consultant, and Author. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA with her husband and two children, where they enjoy digging for sand crabs and gawking at whales. Katie has always been an avid reader and has loved rediscovering picture books as a mom and writer.
Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel: The Story of Anne Bradstreet, America’s First Poet her debut picture book, was released in August from Beaming Books. Visit her online at https://katiemundaywilliams.com or on Twitter: @KatieWills79
ABOUT ANDREW HACKET
Andrew’s background of being surrounded by children, both at work and at home, has been a treasure trove of inspiration.
A nature lover, Andrew can be found exploring the woods of Massachusetts with his wife and three kids.
While often witty and imaginative, Andrew’s stories can also delve into the more serious and emotional topics that children can experience.
Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Page Turner Literary.