Katie Schenkel

  • 5 min read

My name is Katie Schenkel. I am @JustPlainTweets on Twitter, and the official CK account is @thecardboardk on IG and Twitter.

Tell me a little about you:

– When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

I loved to read when I was your age! My parents would bring me to the public library constantly during the summer. Their programs were so much fun and I liked discovering my next favorite story among the bookshelves.

The Scholastic Book Fairs at school were another highlight for me. I very carefully combed through the fair to find the exact books I wanted. It was the best. And I was a frequent visitor to my school’s library throughout the school year.

– What was your favorite author or book?

I loved a lot of different books growing up, but around your age I was a big fan of The Babysitter’s Club. My mom gave me a subscription to the BSC reading club, which meant I got the series mailed right to my front door, one book at a time. During the 90s, kids getting books mailed to them was a lot less common than it is now. That made each Babysitters Club book that much more special to me.

Another favorite book around that time was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. Her heroine Meg meant a lot to me and would eventually become one of my inspirations for Sophie in The Cardboard Kingdom.

– how do you get your story ideas?

My story ideas come from a lot of different places! For The Cardboard Kingdom, Chad had the basic idea of a neighborhood of creative kids, and that sparked my idea for Sophie’s Big Banshee. And sometimes it’s as simple as, “Oh, I wish there was a comic I could read about a girl visiting different planets and falling in love with an alien” and then remembering that I can make that book myself! And now the alien love story idea is my upcoming comic 100 Light Years of Solitude.

– is it hard to write a book?

It can be really hard to write anything, whether it’s a full book or a short story or an article! The hardest part for me is taking that original nugget of a story idea and building out from it. That’s when it’s easy to doubt your idea and want to give up. It’s important for writers to remember that their first draft isn’t going to be perfect, it just has to be finished. Once you have the draft, you can edit the heck out of it until it’s where you want it to be.

– what authors do you like right now? Any lesser known ones you can recommend?

When you and I met at A2CAF in Ann Arbor, I got to buy quite a few new comics. Lucy Bellwood’s book 100 Demon Dialogues is very cute and teaches readers to be kinder to themselves. I also met a young Ann Arbor comic creator named Bruno Hohn and got to read his minicomic The Adventures of Spenser the Ghost & Larry the Muffin. I was very impressed by how darkly funny and sharp the dialogue was. He’s got some real talent and I look forward to seeing his work in the future.

– what is the best part of being an author?

The best part of being an author is when your story is out in the world. For one, because it always feels better once the work is done. But also, that’s when you get to see its impact on readers! There’s nothing better than seeing how a story you made has touched someone’s heart.

– What do you use to complete your writing?

When I am ready to write my scripts, I use this Microsoft Word comic script template: http://oscarwildecomics.blogspot.com/2013/10/comic-script-template.html. The template sets up the formatting for me, and it’s easy for my artist, editor, and letterer to read.

When I’m brainstorming story ideas, I’ve been using the website 4thewords.com. It makes writing into a game, so the more I type, the more rewards I get in the game. It encourages me to keep writing without worrying about it being perfect during the brainstorming process.

– any advice for a kid who wants to be an author?

This is advice I often need to remember myself: read lots of different kinds of books. Besides sparking your imagination and learning more about the world, you can learn so much about the craft of writing by jumping into a wide variety of writing. So, read sci-fi comics! Read biographies! Read science books! Read YA novels! Read webcomics! Be as well-read as you can, even if you don’t plan to write that style of book yourself.

– If you could portal into any of your works, which would you portal into?

Oh man, The Cardboard Kingdom would be a very fun place to experience. But I would want to be a kid myself so I could join in on the fun.

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