I was lucky enough to interview author Katherine Applegate. She is the author of “The One and Only Ivan,” “The One and Only Bob” and her most recent book is “Odder.” “Odder” is about the life of an otter and the struggles she faces. A fun fact I learned from Applegate: otters sleep a lot.

Most of Applegate’s books are about animals. She writes about animals because wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up. She always had lots of pets— dogs, cats and too many gerbils to count because they kept having babies. She was fascinated by what was going on in the animals’ heads. She was always wondering what her dog was thinking. She was automatically drawn to animals when she started writing books. She wrote her first story in fourth grade about a pig named Alice.

When I asked her why she chose to write the book “Odder” in poetry, Applegate said “In my mind, otters are constantly moving and they are always swimming through life. And it felt like poetry would be a good way to do that.” Applegate likes to write in free verse because “there aren’t as many rules when you write in poetry.” She calls herself a lazy writer. She likes short paragraphs and lots of white space on the page.

She likes writing because she likes doing research. “I think research is one of the best parts of writing,” says Applegate. She explains that she likes to do research because it’s fun, but also admits that it can also be a way to procrastinate when it’s time to write. When I asked her which of her books is her favorite, she said it’s always the book she just finished. “Wishtree,”

“The One and Only Ivan” and “Home of the Brave” are special to her because they are about kindness and people stepping up to do the right thing.

 Applegate has a 16-year-old cat named Lightning McQueen. She’s very grumpy! She doesn’t like anyone but Applegate. She also has a rescue dog named Astrid.

“If you have told a story, written a story or even thought of a story in your head, you’re a writer,” says Applegate. She likes to read middle grade fiction, non-fiction and books about how to write. She’s very excited to come to the Tucson Festival of Books. She says “meeting readers is the best part of the job!”

What’s next for Applegate? She just finished “The One and Only Ruby” which will come out in May. In the fall, she has a book coming out about dogs. Right now, she’s working on a final draft of a new book. She says she has lots of Post-It notes of ideas all over. All she knows is that this book will have animals in it!

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