K. M. Walton is the author of Cracked (Simon Pulse 2012), Empty (Simon Pulse 2013) and the co-author of Teaching Numeracy: 9 Critical Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking (Corwin Press 2011) for mathematics teachers K – 8. She is a graduate of West Chester University, with a degree in elementary education. As a former middle-school language-arts teacher she’s passionate about ending peer bullying. She gives school presentations on the topic “The Power of Human Kindness.” She lives in PA with her husband, two sons, cat, and turtle. Visit the author at her website or follow her on twitter.
If you were to start a new trend and be famous for it, what would it be?
Basic Human Decency Trend: looking people in the eye when you speak to them. Really seeing the people in your life whether you know them well or not. Taking the time to listen and find commonalities rather than judging and labeling.
How do you feel about small talk? Love or hate?
Even though I’ve given presentations to 650 students in an auditorium I’m an introvert at heart. I’m great at small talk as long as the other person opens the conversation. I’m way too shy to start conversation, but if someone engages me then I’ll happily talk their ear off.
Would you ever consider living with a tribe deep in the Amazon? Why or why not?
NOT! I have severe arachnophobia and there are enormous spiders in that jungle. I’d never be able to sleep!
What makes you uncomfortable?
When people judge other people. No one knows what’s going on in someone else’s life, what they’re going through at home or in their personal life, so when I see or hear someone being judged for their looks, their weight, their sexuality, the way they talk, move, eat, it makes me very uncomfortable. I believe everyone should be treated with kindness and dignity.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
My family. I queried for 2.5 years and piled 148 agent rejections before landing my first agent. With every rejection on a full manuscript I cried puddles. I gave up twice but my family wouldn’t let me quit. They reminded me that publication was my dream and that I’d worked too hard to quit. At 2.4 years in I was at the point where I thought doing something fun might lighten my mood and maybe inspire other frustrated writers, so I made a YouTube song parody video.
What words of inspiration were given to you that you would like to pass along to others?
I used to be a teacher, and when I was out on medical leave, unable to read one more book or watch one more second of TV or kill the boredom, Dr. Rina Vassallo, a good friend who knew I’d always wanted to write a novel, sent me an email with three words: Write your book. I stared at those three words for quite some time and then opened up a blank Word document. And I got started writing my book (a middle grade novel). I haven’t looked back since.
So, write your book.
Sit down and do it. Make the time. Don’t make excuses or let the doubt monster creep in. Write your book.
When do you feel the most energized?
I’m a straight-up middle-of-the-dayer. Not a morning person, not a night person. I get my writing groove on from noon onward.
Does your writing reflect your personality?
Absolutely. Both of my young adult novels focus on the hideous effects of bullying, and ant-bullying has been a life-long passion of mine. I spent twelve years teaching in public education, ten of those years were in middle school, so I saw my fair share of kids being cruel to one another. I made “teaching my students to see each other and not the labels they’ve smacked onto each other’s foreheads” my number one goal as an educator. I weaved kindness, tolerance, and acceptance into almost every lesson I taught and never shied away from addressing cruelty I witnessed or heard about. So, CRACKED and EMPTY were natural writes for me.
Now that I’m published I have the opportunity to speak to students about kindness. I’ve given my presentation “The Power of Human Kindness” to auditoriums full of middle and high school students, university students and staff, and even at a TEDx event! Speaking to young people about kindness and tolerance is my favorite part of being an author.