Booked for Review had the opportunity to interview Katie Meyer, author of the book Gust, her debut work!
B4R: When did you know writing was your passion/gift/calling?
Katie Meyer: Being an author was a dream I never knew I had. AND, in some ways, I was also preparing to be a children’s book author for my whole life as both a lifelong reader and literacy teacher and coach by profession. Gust’s story found me, and I’m so grateful it did.
B4R: Where do you get your ideas for your books?
KM: Stories are all around us! As a reader and educator, I am immersed in stories, I know how stories go, and I often see my real life in story terms – imagining the people & things around me as characters, thinking how they might feel or act, wondering what lessons they might learn, etc. This might not be normal, haha! But it did lead me to anthropomorphize a wind turbine and name it Gust…and now I am a published author with a children’s book! 🙂
But you don’t have to be in education – or talk to inanimate objects – to find inspiration. We all tell stories all day long: what happened on the way to work, how our school day went, the time we’ll never forget, the surprising thing that happened to us at the grocery store, what would have happened if…? I tell students and prospective authors to stay curious and ask questions. When you look at the world with wonder & imagination, story ideas will find you!
B4R: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
KM: I did so much research and was shocked at how much I learned from the writing process! I researched my topic to learn about wind energy and ports, generally, as well as specifically about the story of the wind turbine at Port Milwaukee. I also did market research to see if there were already books that told this story. I was shocked to learn that there are not many fictional stories about wind energy, especially for younger readers, and even fewer where the wind turbine IS the main character and tells the story from their perspective.
B4R: What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?
KM: Gust is my debut children’s book so everything was hard because I was teaching myself and learning everything for the first time – but that was also what made it fun!
The most difficult part of writing my book was trying to explain how a wind turbine and wind energy works in child-friendly terms and while RHYMING. I decided I wanted my secondary character, the Port Director, to speak in rhyme and there were definitely times I regretted that, haha. The Port Director solves Gust’s problem in the book and describes how a wind turbine works…that was not easy to do in rhyme!
B4R: Who are some of your favorite authors?
KM: As a lifelong book-lover and avid reader, some of my most formative reading experiences were with Madeline L’Engle’s “Wrinkle in Time”, Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and Wilson Rawl’s “Where the Red Fern Grows”.
As an elementary reading teacher, I often reached for books by Patricia Polacco, Gail Gibbons, Jacqueline Woodson, Jeff Kinney, Kate DiCamillo, and so many more of the greats!
B4R: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
KM: Read! I fill as much of my spare time reading as many stories as I possibly can. I also enjoy traveling and good meandering conversation with great people over delicious food.
B4R: What advice would you give to other writers?
KM: Ask for help! I always thought of writing as a solitary experience – which it can be, at times – but there is so much I didn’t know how to, and couldn’t, do alone. At first, I felt like I had to do it all by myself. Once I started asking for help, and sharing the process, it became more productive and more fun!
About the Book
Poor Gust wants to help! But what can he do? The lone wind turbine at a busy port, he watches over everything in the water and on land. The people and machines are always on the move, but not Gust. All day long, the workers swirl around him like the wind while he is stuck standing still. He can’t do what everyone else does. Is there a job for Gust? Everything changes one night when Gust asks his friend, the Port Director, for help. His answer surprises Gust — and it might surprise you!
Join Gust in his journey to discover how a little wind turbine can have a BIG impact. At a time when climate conversations happen at the dinner table, this is the true story of how one small wind turbine made the Port of Milwaukee fully energy independent and produced enough electricity to share with the surrounding city!
Gust has something for everyone. Fans of big construction vehicles will enjoy the many characters found working at a port. Curious young environmentalists will learn how wind power can be a renewable energy source. And adult readers will love how Gust’s tale reminds children that, by working together and contributing their own unique gifts, they can make a difference too. Gust is a story of how everyone — no matter how big or small — can help to better their community and their world.