Kathy J. Perry – Crafting Stories with Heart and Soul

Inspiring Young Minds Through Moral Lessons and Creative Adventures

Kathy J. Perry discusses her multifaceted creative journey, her passion for teaching through moral stories, and the joy she finds in writing and illustrating children’s books.

Kathy J. Perry is a creative powerhouse whose multifaceted career spans from designing intricate stained glass windows to crafting compelling children’s literature. With a deep commitment to nurturing young minds, Kathy’s passion for teaching shines through her clean, moral stories that resonate with children and teens. Her journey in storytelling is fueled by a belief in the profound impact of good books, as reflected in her beloved Emeline series and the charming Bandana Acres tales.

Kathy’s artistic talents extend beyond writing. Her experiences in stained glass design, watercolour painting, and various other creative pursuits have enriched her storytelling, imbuing it with a unique depth and vibrancy. Despite the demanding nature of writing, she finds it a joyous escape, akin to a vacation for the imagination, with inspiration often striking in the quiet hours of the night.

Balancing her roles as an author, part-time administrative assistant, and house renovator, Kathy thrives on a diverse schedule that keeps her creativity alive. Her dedication to character development and moral values in children’s literature stems from a belief that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. Through engaging animal protagonists and relatable adventures, she instills essential life lessons in her young readers.

In this interview for Reader’s House Magazine, Kathy J. Perry delves into her inspirations, creative processes, and the rewarding journey of self-publishing. Her stories, imbued with compassion, courage, and resilience, aim to leave a lasting positive impact on readers, proving that good character and good stories go hand in hand.

 What inspired you to write stories that emphasise moral lessons, particularly for children and teens?

Around age twelve, my favourite book, The Adventure of Perrine by Hector Mallot, affected my personality deeply. Though not an orphan like Perrine, I admired her strength of character: compassion, courage, honesty, resilience, resourcefulness, and self-control. I wanted to be like her. This book was the inspiration for the Emeline series: A Journey and Finding Strength: During the Panic of 1893. Isn’t it amazing how a story – a character – can affect the life of a reader? My goal is to craft stories that make a positive impact.

How do your experiences in designing stained glass windows and other creative endeavours influence your approach to storytelling?

I’ve never connected the two creative ventures, but I take pleasure in both processes. Designing stained glass windows involves precision in many phases, each vital to the outcome. Creative processes include design, planning for reinforcement, and glass selection. Skills include cutting glass, grinding & fitting pieces, leading or copper foiling, soldering, cementing (if lead), cleaning, and installing.

Less physically demanding, writing requires much learning about the craft, various software, marketing, and knowing your limitations. I’ve always had my work professionally edited more than once. I’ve hired professionals to design covers and layout interiors, narrators for the audiobooks, and printers for copies I stock for school presentations and local events. As a self-published author, it’s an expensive venture, but if my words help even just one reader, it’s worth it. Like stained glass, I love the process, but even more, I love sharing my books in person.

Can you share a bit about your process for coming up with story ideas, especially for characters like Feebs, Rascal, and Hootin?

I live in town but love the country life. The Bandana Acres characters represent a few of the animals who live in the Missouri countryside. Given the ability to speak to one another through my imagination, their adventures were inspired by the curriculum of Character First Education. After each story, I’ve included a “What If” discussion section: five questions for reading comprehension and five for application to real life. Each book also features a map and a glossary. An artist friend, Mark Baral, designed these characters and taught me to draw them, after which I painted them with watercolours, which was a fun adventure for me.

But there’s more to come! I’m currently working on a new 5-book series of early reader chapter books called Oakwoods, will feature under-appreciated animals who will have adventures and grow in character. Pip O’Possum, Sally Skunkskin, Benjamin Bat, Hickory, Henry, and Hazel Squirrels, and Chester Crow. Like Ollie, the farm dog of Bandana Acres, this series will have a wise turkey vulture named Boon.

Other books in this series will feature Sally Skunkskin (a skunk), Benjamin (a bat), Nuts! (gray squirrels), and Chester (a crow). They live in the woods away from Bandana Acres.

In your opinion, why is it important for children’s literature to incorporate lessons on character development and moral values?

Our youth are tomorrow’s leaders. If we don’t teach them the value of good character, what hope do we have for the future?

 Your books seem to feature animal characters who learn important life lessons. What draws you to using animals as protagonists, and how do you develop their personalities and traits?

Children from ages 4-8 usually adore animal characters. They’re fun and universally accepted.

 As someone who wears multiple hats—from writer to part-time administrative assistant to renovator—how do you balance your various roles and maintain creativity in your storytelling?

The part-time job enables me to afford to publish and it gives me a sort of schedule plus social time. I’m good at my job and the people are great friends aside from being my employers. My hours are flexible, giving me the freedom to do school visits and events. 

During 2021 & 2022 my husband and I renovated houses and I still worked part-time, but exhaustion precluded any creative endeavours. Fortunately, the renovation work is finished and I’m back to learning more about story, writing, and publishing! This is retirement for me and I’m grateful for the gifts and opportunities I’m given.

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