Interview by Alex Mellen (PWR class of 2014)
Kate Jameson works as an editorial assistant for two children’s magazines (clubhousemagazine.com and clubhousejr.com) at Focus on the Family in Colorado. She also interned with Focus on the Family while a student at Taylor University.
Kate, how did your Professional Writing major at Taylor University prepare you for working in the publishing world?
Well, for one thing, the required internship turned into a full-time job! The major helped me develop a wide range of skills in the publishing world. Not just writing, but editing, publishing, and even networking. Because I have such diverse skills, there are an equally wide variety of jobs I could pursue.
What made you choose Taylor?
I chose Taylor because of the Professional Writing program. My older sister attended Taylor and when the program moved from Fort Wayne [TU’s former second campus], she told me about it. It was exactly what I was looking for. It promised to not only develop my writing skills, but to help me turn my passion for words into a career.
What was your first byline—the first piece of writing you had professionally published?
I don’t [remember] the exact details, but I know it was a devotional for The Secret Place, either late in my freshman year or early in my sophomore year at Taylor.
What drew you to magazine writing and publication? What kinds of opportunities are available in the magazine industry for writers?
My first experience with magazine writing came through my internship. I loved the pacing of it. With books, you spend months and months on one story, and with newspapers (at least the one I had experience with), you only had a few days. Our magazines come out monthly, so we’re able to spend a couple weeks on each piece. It’s long enough that I feel confident that the story is the best it can be and short enough that I don’t get sick of it.
Magazine writing also provides really great opportunities for writers. In any given issue, we’ll have stories and articles from five or six different writers, sometimes more. Writing for a magazine is a great way to build experience and get bylines under your belt.
What kinds of articles or stories would you be interested in acquiring at the conference? What do you look for in a writer or manuscript?
I’ll be accepting short story and article manuscripts (but no book proposals). For our magazines, we often need nonfiction pieces about kids doing extraordinary things, crafts, and recipes (we publish fiction too, but we get so many fiction submissions it’s hard for a first-time writer to get picked). We look for writers who can entertain our child readers and teach them important lessons at the same time. For our younger magazine, we’re always looking for unique Bible stories.
You blog regularly at your blog site where you talk about fairy tales and occasionally share video posts. What do you like about fairy tales, and how do they influence your own writing?
Dr. Hensley is fond of saying that there are no new stories. And that’s definitely true. Fairy tales, often tied into a country’s folklore and history, are some of the oldest stories we have. They were passed down orally for generations before being written down 200 or 300 years ago. Not only have they been preserved for so long, they’ve remained classics. So many modern hits can trace their inspiration back to fairy tales. Sure, they’re usually short, but they tell a lot in their simplicity. They didn’t need to be any longer.
Fairy tales were very often used as teaching tools, so in writing for children I employ similar techniques and plots. I also just love those stories and I’m currently working on a series of novels that are adaptations of some of the famous fairy tales.
What’s your background with children’s writing?
I’ve always appreciated children’s writers, especially after working in the children’s section of my local library in high school, but I never thought I’d be a kid’s author. That changed after my internship two years ago. I got to write a couple stories for the magazines and I really enjoyed the challenge of telling a story in a short space that was complete and still at a child’s level of understanding.
I’m also writing a series of picture books about a mischievous kangaroo. I just started querying agents and it’s very nerve-wracking.
Name a book, nonfiction or fiction (or fairy tale), that is not directly about writing but has taught you something about writing.
I’m not sure I can pick just one. I’ve got a collection of fairy tales and mythology books that are some of my best sources of inspiration. I love to study the stories of different cultures, both to get ideas and to see how storytelling changes and stays the same through time and different countries.
Kate will be teaching one session at the conference:
Do’s and Don’ts of Children’s Writing