Interview with children’s author and poet Katie Grosser

Today’s special guest is multilingual children’s author and poet, Katie Grosser. Her Facebook page is here

Katie’s newest
children’s book is
Rissa Filial und das
Vermächtnis der Fabelwelt
Filial and the Legacy of the Fairy Realm
). Her newest
poem Waldspaziergang (Walk Through The Woods) is featured in
the spring issue of the German magazine WOLL.

The focus of today’s interview is Katie’s newest
poetry project, titled Marvelous Mary.
It is a collection of poems for children about a little girl called Mary and
her everyday life. Each poem features a particular dilemma Mary faces while out
and about – having to eat Brussels Sprouts, waiting for her father to come home
to unwrap her Christmas presents, being afraid of thunderstorms and monsters or
waiting for flowers to grow, to name a few – and shows the young readers how to
deal with similar dilemmas in their own lives. This project is particularly
dear to me because I have younger siblings and younger cousins, for whom the
poems are a great way not only to learn some important life lessons, but also
to actually read more. I think it is very important to learn to love the
written word at a young age and with my Marvelous
poems, I believe reading can not only be educational, but downright
fun! The collection of poems also provides a great opportunity for parents to
read to or together with their children. And it has been great to work together
with my cousin Danika Mosher, who lives in the U.S., and is an artist (you can
check out her website at:
Danika has drawn up a few sketches for my poems that really capture Mary’s
adventures (a couple drawings are included below).
Grosser, born 1990, writes novels, short stories and poems. She lives in
Germany, where she is working on her PhD in Communication Studies. Writing has
been her passion and constant companion since kindergarten.
In 2014,
she finally published her first book, a children’s novel called Rissa Filial und das Vermächtnis der
(Rissa Filial and the
Legacy of the Fairy Realm
), which is the first installment in a series of
four novels. Katie’s mom is American and her dad is German, so she grew up
bilingually and writes in both languages.
she is passing on her love of the written word in a monthly column in the Westfalenpost Meschede, in which she
showcases literature in English worth reading for a German audience. She is
also currently contributing one poem to each of the German magazine WOLL’s 2015 issues. You can check out
her column and find out more about her further projects on her website.
What do you enjoy most about writing poems?
I love the
process of figuring out how to make the content, rhyme and rhythm come
together! Usually, I know what I want to write about and once I get started,
the words mostly flow from my fingers right into the computer. Sometimes,
though, it gets a bit harder and I need more time and work to make particular
lines really ring true. The way form and content in poems together create a bigger picture than each alone ever could is
simply beautiful. But above and beyond that, I myself really enjoy reading
poems and therefore hope to give my readers pleasure when the read my poems.
Especially my young readers when I write poems for kids.
Can you give us a little insight into
a few of your poems – perhaps a couple of your favorites?
At the moment,
my main poetic project is Marvelous Mary.
I will give you the first few lines of two of the poems from this collection.

Mary and the Tulips
Mary looked at the ground, her hands on her hips
Her eyes, they were narrowed, and pursed were her
Her Grammie behind her though wore a big smile
And told little Mary to wait for a while.
For now it was spring and in autumn those two
Had planted some tulip bulbs, shiny and new.
Grammie had promised that after the snow
Once it was spring, all the flowers would grow.
Mary could hardly imagine the sight
Of those bulbs blooming in colors so bright.
For now, she could only see brown, soft dirt
In the
place from which the flowers would spurt.
Mary and the Monster
A Monster, knew Mary, lived under her bed
She knew it was there and not just in her head!
It slept through the day but it woke up at night
Mary couldn’t sleep – it gave her such a fright.
She sat in her bed, covers up to her chin
And pictured it sitting there, looking so grim.
The Monster was big but had small beady eyes
And teeth that were yellow and long like French Fries!
Its breath smelled so foul and its voice was all rough
Its feet were quite smelly, its manners were gruff.
The Monster itself Mary never had seen
And this was not something on which she was keen.
As you can
see, in both poems, Mary is faced with dilemmas. In Mary and the Tulips, she can’t quite believe that flowers will
actually grow from the small bulbs she and her Grammie planted so long ago. And
in Mary and the Monster, Mary is
afraid of what might be under her bed. My poems provide a fun way for young
readers to confront problems and quandaries they might be facing in their own
What form are you inspired to write in
the most? Why?
Mostly, I
write novels. The reason is that novels are ideal to tell long and complex
stories featuring many characters and plot lines. Poems tend to be a bit more
straightforward when it comes to telling stories, which is why my Marvelous Mary poems always feature one
particular problem in each poem. But I actually really enjoy writing short
stories as well!
What type of project are you working
on next?
Speaking of
short stories, one of the projects I am working on is a collection of short
stories. I am writing them together with my younger brother. The stories
revolve around a week in the lives of a group of loosely connected people in
early adulthood – their fears and doubts, hopes and dreams. I am also currently
revising a historical novel I wrote a few years ago before I get ready to send
it to a publisher. It’s written in German, but is about two young Hessian
brothers who fight in the revolutionary war. Recently, I also had an idea for a
YA novel that I would like to write in English – but I still have my PhD to
finish, so I have to take my projects one at a time.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer / poet?
I have
always considered myself a writer, ever since I started writing. Just because
others might not have perceived me that way didn’t prevent me from feeling like
one myself. But of course, I really started calling myself an author publicly
when my first book was published in September 2014. That’s also when I set up
my website and Facebook page and started publicly talking about my passion and
my projects. Now others refer to me as an author or writer as well.
How do you research markets for your
work, perhaps as some advice for not-yet-published poets?
When it
comes to finding the right publisher, poets should buckle down for a long,
bumpy ride. It really isn’t easy out there. I actually got really lucky with
regards to publishing my poems in the German magazine WOLL this year. A mother of a young boy who had read my children’s
novel contacted the magazine’s publisher and suggested that they write a
feature on me as a young author. One thing led to another and the publisher and
I got into talking and here I am, writing one poem for each issue. My advice is
to put yourself out there and keep your eyes open for good opportunities. Plus,
do your research. I am constantly on the lookout for literary magazines to
submit my poems to or literary contests to enter. But only submit your work if
you feel the magazine or contest is a good fit for you – otherwise you are just
wasting your own and the publisher’s time.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I am not
even sure if it’s a real quirk, but sometimes I feel like I can’t write if I
don’t have a nice big cup of tea. Black tea, with lots of milk. Not Earl Grey!
English Breakfast Tea is best. I love the taste, of course – otherwise I
wouldn’t drink it – but it has become somewhat of a ritual in that I need tea
to be able to work.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
I really
wanted to be a grade school teacher, which in Germany means teaching first
through fourth grade. My dad is a teacher, which played into my dream. Once I
was older, I became interested in journalism, which had a lot to do with my
passion for writing. While I still work as a freelance journalist, my focus is
now more on academia. I love working at the university and doing my research.
In science, there is a lot of writing to be done, too! However, I still dream
of – to paraphrase one of my favorite authors, Jane Austen – living by my pen.

Katie on a class visit
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

If you read
novels or poems by young and not yet well-known authors, let them know if you
enjoyed their work! Since I myself am a young and not yet well-known author, I
know how great it feels to get positive feedback. I love visiting school
classes or having readings and getting enthusiastic responses from the kids
when I talk to them about my children’s novel. But even short comments via
Facebook message, comments on my website or E-Mail can be a real boost. I write
for myself, my own pleasure and my own joy, of course, but I also want to bring
pleasure and joy to my readers, so it’s nice to know when I have accomplished

Thanks for visiting us today, Katie!

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