Episode 14: Author Kathleen M. Jacobs and the Love of Words

On this episode I get the privilege of talking with Author Kathleen M. Jacobs. She has 7 published works in a variety of categories, including a children’s picture book, a chapter book, a middle grade book, a coming of age story, and poetry. We talk at length about both reading and writing on this episode, and it’s delightful.

Kathleen's website

@kathleenm.jacobs on Instagram

Bookshop.org booklist (affiliate link)

One of the most wonderful experiences I've had as a part of "bookstagram" has been getting to connect with authors on a personal level. With Kathleen, it all started when she was doing a giveaway of her book Sophie & The Bookmobile and I was one of the recipients. It was a charming little chapter book and so of course I gushed about it on Instagram. Later I dropped it off in a little free library, because it just seemed like the right thing to do. Why should a cute kids book about the love of reading be stuck on my shelf when it could be shared with other kids? 

A few months later, Kathleen reached out and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her children's picture book, Please Close It. This was during the quarantine because of COVID-19, and I was reading stories out loud on Zoom a few times a week to the foster kids currently living with my in-laws. This sounded like a perfect book to read to them and I had a built-in child test audience, so I agreed. We had a ton of fun reading the book out loud. The kids loved the book, especially the bicycles (they are learning how to ride) and the cookies (who doesn't love cookies?!). After we started seeing family again, I brought Please Close It over to their house. They love the book.

Please Close It is being played with and enjoyed by the kids 

After we recorded the podcast episode a few weeks ago, I received yet another sweet package from Kathleen. Inside were Honeysuckle Holiday and Marble Town, as well as some bookish goodies and a thank you note. (pictured below) 

Kathleen doesn't remember a time when she wasn't making up stories and writing. She's spent many years in the classroom, teaching high school English and at the college level as well.

When it comes to looking for inspiration, Kathleen turns to nature. Whether it's getting started with an idea, or finding herself frozen in the process and needing to re-set, turning toward the hills and trails of her home state refreshes her. For example, Please Close It is set in Hawk's Nest, which is one of Kathleen's favorite destinations.

When I asked her about her writing process, she described the chaotic process of writing Honeysuckle Holiday. Because it was her debut, she started writing first and organized the story later. She remembered reading a quote that said, "Until you get to the point that you no longer like your manuscript, it's not ready to go."Learning from that challenging experience, she now much prefers to use an outline.

We gushed about our mutual appreciation for the work of Anne Bogel. You can find her at her blogstay-at-home book tour, and Instagram.

All in all, Kathleen has published 7 works: 

"We're talking about people who love words. And then the words are made into sentences, the sentences into paragraphs. That's a beautiful gift, to be in love with words. Even the sound of certain words. It's taking the alphabet and tossing it up in the air and seeing what happens. The mix of the letters of the alphabet formed into words, I think it is magical, it really is. I keep saying "this is my last book, this is my last book," and that never happens. I don't think is going to happen. I'll always turn to writing because it's not only a creative process but it's the way I make sense of the world around me. It is the only way I can do it." 
~ Kathleen M. Jacobs

Kathleen loves writing letters to authors and has often received letters back from authors such as Donald Hall, Cynthia Rylant, and Kaye Gibbons. Her most beloved letter is a response from Harper Lee where she asked for advice on teaching high school students the writing process. Kathleen never expected to get a reply, but a few months later she did! (Starting at about 14 minutes in the podcast you can hear her tell the tale of receiving the letter. It's a good story!) Pictured below is the letter Kathleen received from Harper Lee in response.

Nancy Drew Mysteries are the books that Kathleen credits with sparking her love of reading. She also mentioned loving A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Charlotte's Web as a child. She loves to return to the works that inspired and captured her when she was first a reader, they continue to gift magic long after and serve as an inspiration in her own writing. She even taught a history of children's literature course at the college level.

When she's looking for books to read, she loves coming-of-age stories. They resonate the most because it is a common ground for all of us. There is always a moment where we changed and entered a different age or stage. Some examples of these stories are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and A Separate Peace.

Books Laura Recommended to Kathleen: 

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan - This middle grade story is all about the love of libraries and books and community. When a young girl gets in trouble for stealing a dictionary, she is sentenced to community service hours at the library for the rest of the summer. Initially she is resistant, but the people of the library soon earn her love and trust.

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart - It turns out Kathleen has already read this book! But we both loved it. Coyote and her dad are traveling across the country in a school bus converted into a motorhome. This is a story of found family and healing from pain. You'll laugh and cry along the way. Laura talks about how she sees this as a parable for Enneagram type 7s, who typically run from pain.

Charles Martin's works - specifically Long Way Gone (a modern retelling of the story of the prodigal son), The Mountain Between Us (now a major motion picture), and When Crickets Cry (on Laura's unread shelf)

Books Kathleen Recommended to Laura: 

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto - This debut immediately came to mind as a recommendation. Lyrical prose, sings to you as you read it.

Kathleen recommended several volumes of poetry, including: 

Kathleen also recommended these favorites from her bookshelves: 

At one time, the Jacobs family had over 10,000 books in their home! They have gone through and gotten rid of some, and now Kathleen now tries to only keep the books that resonates with her the most.

What I took away the most from the interview with Kathleen is that she has clearly found her passion and calling. She's a reader, a lover of words, a writer. She can't help but express herself through words, and it is so fun to see that in action.

With lots of literary love from my library to yours, have a wonderful day!


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Library Laura
Laura is an avid reader who is happiest when surrounded by books, tea, blankets and/or friends. Host of the Library Laura Podcast.


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