Interview with Award-Winning Author Peg Kehret
Get to know Peg…
Peg Kehret’s middle-grade books have won more than fifty state young reader awards, as well as the PEN Center West Award in Children’s Literature, the Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and the ASPCA’s Henry Bergh Award. Abduction was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America.
Peg has two grown children, four grandchildren and a great-grandson. She volunteers with animal welfare groups, and has included dogs, cats, llamas, elephants, bears, horses, and monkeys in her books. Three of her books are co-authored by Pete the cat.
Peg lives in Wilkeson, Washington, with her dog and two cats, all rescued animals. For more information, visit her website.
What is the best thing about getting old?
Contentment. I don’t crave more success or money or more of anything. If I never lose that last five pounds, it’s okay. What used to be called weeds are now decorative grasses. My life is good, just as it is.
What do you miss most about being younger?
I miss the people I love who have died.
If someone spied on you, what embarrassing fact would they discover?
I only make my bed when I’m expecting guests. This is not because I’m lazy; it’s because my cat likes to sleep on the bedspread. He gets it dirty, and bedspreads are hard to wash.
What favor should never be asked of someone?
I have this great idea for a book but I don’t have time to write it, so I’d like you to write it for me and then we’ll share the royalties.
At the end of your Chinese meal, what would you like your fortune to read?
You will bring joy to many.
What would you hate to see charging at you in the middle of an open field?
The Legion of Boom.
If you opened up a present, what would you least expect to find?
Meat. Anyone who knows me well enough to give me a gift would know that I’m a vegetarian.
What are the biggest challenges you have had in the realm of your art?
The challenges change with time. At first it was learning to write well enough to merit publication. For a while, the big challenge was having enough time. After many books, it became a challenge to stay fresh, with new ideas and untapped material.
How did you pick your writing genre?
I write in more than one genre and enjoy all of them. I had two books published this year; one is a drama book for teens, Two Voices: 54 Original Duologues for Teens, co-authored with Brett Konen. The other is a middle grade suspense novel, Dangerous Deception.
What life experiences have inspired your work?
My work with animal rescue groups has been a resource many times for ideas and feelings. Also, my experience of being paralyzed from polio when I was twelve has had a big impact. The main characters in my fiction are all about that age.
How do you know when a book is finished?
I keep revising until I can’t see any other changes to make. Then I put it aside for a week or so. If I still can’t find anything to change when I read it again, the book is done.
Why were you drawn to a career in writing instead of to a job that might offer more stability and security?
Writing offers total freedom with your time, your projects, and your work space. Also no pantyhose.
What obstacles have you had to deal with in your career?
Lots of rejections in the early years. Later, some changes in editorial staff caused difficulties. Shortly after my first novel was published, the publisher went out of business.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in the field of writing?
Write what you like to read. Don’t try to aim for what’s popular; write for yourself. If you write what’s meaningful to you, you’ll attract like-minded readers who will appreciate your work. Keep your sense of humor, and don’t expect instant wealth. I’ve made my living as a writer for a long time, but there were many years of way-below-poverty-level income before that happened.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have compared to people who are not creative?
Creative people tend to be curious, keep an open mind, and are willing to take risks.
When did you know for certain that you wanted to pursue a career in writing? Have you ever questioned that decision?
I did not try writing as a career until I was in my thirties. I questioned it often in the beginning but once I began to publish, I knew I’d found my life’s work and I’ve never regretted my choice.
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