Exploring Life’s Mysteries with Katherine H. Klemp

Katherine Klemp, a retired nurse and Christian writer, infuses her family life and professional experiences into her engaging children’s detective series, The Eagle River Detectives.

Katherine H. Klemp, a retired registered nurse and devoted Christian writer, brings a wealth of life experience to her storytelling. As a mother of eight and grandmother to many, Katherine’s family life is a vibrant tapestry that mirrors the lively, smart, and adventurous Grant kids in her beloved Eagle River Detectives series. Her professional background, particularly her work with the elderly and in grief programs, deeply informs the emotional depth and themes of her fiction, offering young readers a compassionate and realistic portrayal of life’s challenges.

Currently residing in White Bear Township, MN, Katherine’s writing is a heartfelt blend of personal anecdotes and imaginative adventures. Her small-town settings, inspired by her own experiences in places like Seward, Nebraska, come alive with vivid detail, making readers feel as though they could step right into the world of the Eagle River Detectives. Katherine’s transition between fiction and non-fiction showcases her versatility as a writer, with each genre enriching the other. Her stories not only entertain but also provide valuable lessons on resilience, family bonds, and the power of community.

With such a rich background in nursing and leading grief programs, how did those experiences influence the emotional depth and themes in your fiction writing, particularly in The Eagle River Detectives series?

In Book 1 of the series, the children’s father has died, and they are learning to live with that sadness.  Also, Gramps starts to have memory problems and the kids find ways to help him out. Later in the series Gramps goes into an assisted living situation and the kids enjoy visiting him there. I wanted young readers to see how the Grant children dealt with these family issues so that they would know something of how to react if this happened to them or to their friends.

The Grant kids in The Eagle River Detectives series seem to mirror the liveliness and curiosity of your own children. Did any specific experiences or anecdotes from raising your children find their way into the stories?

When my son, Peter, read the first book he said it was like a romp through his childhood! There are quite a few inside jokes. I put them in so that I could tell which of my children read the books.

Transitioning between pen names for your fiction and non-fiction works, how do you navigate the creative process differently for each genre? Are there aspects of your non-fiction writing that you find influence your fiction, or vice versa?

Fiction is such fun because you get to make up the story. I am always surprised where the plot takes me. I didn’t figure out who drew the treasure map in Book 3 until almost the last chapter! 

Non-fiction is different in that the stories are true, but the power of non-fiction, for me, is in telling those stories.

You write what you know, so my understanding of the grieving process allowed me to let the Grant children be sad about their dad’s dying and missing out on knowing their Grant grandparents. (They died before the children moved to Eagle River.)

The Eagle River setting feels vivid and almost like a character itself in your books. How did you go about creating such a vivid small-town atmosphere, and were there any real-life inspirations for Eagle River?

I went to two years of boarding school in the small town of Seward, Nebraska. It is a delightful town to this day, with a manufacturing plant at the edge of town, and a swimming pool within biking distance for the town’s children.  Their 4th of July celebration is a small-town wonder and the highlight of the year. If you ever drive through Seward I hope you feel like you might, at any moment, spot a couple of Eagle River detectives cruising down Main Street on their bikes.

The Eagle River Detectives series carries a strong sense of adventure and mystery. What inspired you to write detective stories targeted at younger readers, and what do you hope they take away from these thrilling adventures?

I started writing these books after attending a book fair at my grandchildren’s school and couldn’t find any books where kids were the heroes. Mostly animals or imaginary characters saved the day. The book closest to the theme I wanted was, Barbie Saves Camp, and Barbie is neither a child nor a real person!

The adventure and mystery came from a deep love for Nancy Drew books and the stories of the Boxcar children I read as a child. I find that my audience is the young and the old. The 9–14-year-olds, and the 60–90-year-olds. Kids still love adventure, and many of my contemporaries enjoy reliving our small-town childhoods.

In The Grant Legacy series, secrets play a significant role. How do you balance the revelation of secrets throughout the series to keep readers engaged while maintaining suspense and mystery until the very end?

It is tricky. The series is best when read starting at Book 1. I try to keep the surprises in the previous books out of the next book in the series, but some things do show up as the story progresses.  My high school friend, Jan Hughes, a former teacher, creates the activity sheets that go with each book. She, too,  is careful to refrain from any activities that might tip off the secrets and surprises. The goal, of course, is to keep the reader reading!

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