Kit Rosewater
writer, teacher, reader

Frequently Asked Questions

Why don't you write for people your own age?

I struggle with this question a lot, because when I first started writing stories, I was writing for people my own age! As a kid I loved the books around me on the shelves and wanted to be a part of that canon. Whenever I'm writing, I go back to my memories and feelings of what it was like to be a kid, to be scared and curious and excited and suspicious of the world, and I write from that point of view. Essentially I pretend like I am a kid when I'm writing. Even as an adult reader, I'm always drawn to middle grade stories. I think a part of me will always be 12.

What's your favorite childhood memory?

Before my dad planted a bunch of grass and laid down rocks and poured cement in our backyard to make it look nice, we had this huge section of dirt that would get super muddy every time it rained. It was the perfect consistency to mold and dig and build. My brother and I would spend hours in that mud pit. We dug a moat and made a castle and called it Nigelneathia, because I had recently read Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia and wanted a magical kingdom of my own. We swirled the dirt in the rain and patted it down to bake in the sun and I loved that dirt pit with all my heart. But the basketball court over it now is nice too.

Where do you get your ideas for stories?

I'll notice something slightly peculiar, slightly strange, and follow the 'what if' train. That's my favorite train because it goes anywhere and everywhere. When I was a kid I would notice a butterfly following me and I wrote stories about having a butterfly for a pet, or a princess who was trapped as a butterfly and couldn't figure out how to tell anyone. I wrote stories about a pink dog, because I thought it would be nice to have a pink dog, and what if a pink dog could also fly and tell you about what was happening on the other side of the world? A few days ago, a glass elephant mysteriously fell from our shelf and shattered in a thousand pieces, except for the blue glass ball she had balanced on her trunk. What if the glass ball was really a crystal ball and we could use it to see into the future? What then?

What's your process for writing?

I'm a pretty exploratory writer. This means I'll try anything when it comes to making stories. I've written on the computer and I've written in journals. I've gone outside and sat between mountains to write. I've also sat down at my desk and told myself "write or else!" I write at coffee shops and in libraries and by myself. I have plotted entire stories before the first word is spelled out. I've started writing with only a seedling of an idea in my head. Sometimes my characters discover new plot turns, and sometimes something in the plot happens that shows me a new character. I've tried it all. My favorite way to write is simply to write. I try to skip the moaning and groaning and crying at my keyboard but sometimes that can't be helped. It's all a part of the process.

What is your favorite book?

I have too many favorites to pick just one, but I will give a few. I admire master storytellers such as Ursula Le Guin (Wizard of Earthsea), Neil Gaiman (Coraline, The Graveyard Book), Madeline L'Engle (A Wrinkle in Time), J.R.R. Tolkein (The Hobbit), Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), Pam Munoz Ryan (Echo, Esperanza Rising), Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy), Sharon Creech (Walk Two Moons), Rita Williams Garcia (One Crazy Summer), Francisco Stork (Marcelo in the Real World), and E.L. Konigsburg (The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler).

My favorite book changes a lot. Right now, it's Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank The Moon.  

What's your best advice for kids who want to write?

I'll give some advice I actually followed and some advice I wish I had followed when I was younger. First, stay true to your passion. Read the books you like to read, and write the books you like to write. Don't let anyone tell you which books are golden and which books are trash. You get to decide that for yourself. Write all your ideas down. Hold onto the excitement you feel when you have them. Now for the advice I didn't follow. Keep your work. Keep your writing. Keep your ideas. I was a mean critic of my own work, and I constantly ripped out the pages of my journals and ceremoniously threw them into the recycling bin. How I wish I had those journals now. Keep. Your. Work.

Why did you stop teaching? Were you a terrible teacher?

All right, confession: this question is mostly one I ask myself. I feel strange when I think back to my days of teaching. I'll think about the kids I worked with and wonder 'why did I stop?' The kids are so much fun. They filled my days with light and happiness. I might have been a terrible teacher. I basically did whatever I wanted in the classroom. I made my students memorize powerful poetry and use books as inspiration for writing their own stories. In my drama classes I was terrible at grading, because the point of the class was to jump in and be a part of things, not to get a grade. I remember being told by a few parents that I didn't command enough respect from kids. I was too young, too short, too female, too loosey-goosey. But I don't really think I was a terrible teacher. In the end, I quit teaching full time so I could write more, and teach independent classes without giving grades. But of course the question still haunts me.

Why do you go by 'Kit'?

My real name, the one I was born with and the one I have to put on tax forms and other official sounding documents, is Christyl. My parents gave me the name when my last name was Watters. I suppose the opportunity was too delicious for them to pass up. I like the name Christyl. It's a fine, albeit unusually spelled, name. But it didn't seem to suit me. In school I kept hoping someone would call me something else and bestow me a nickname. No one did. When I was an adult, I decided to heck with waiting for nicknames, I would find my own. The name Kit comes from several sources. My mother used to call me Kitty Kat when I was really little. My favorite illustrator's name is Kit, from Christopher. One of my favorite characters is Kit, from Christina. I had a Chris in my name too, therefore I could be Kit!