We caught up with Kathy Erskine and Kristy Dempsey over on the blog a few weeks ago. They shared stories about their longtime friendship and details about their forthcoming picture books, including Kristy’s September release, A Hop Is Up.
Both Kathy and Kristy attended Highlights Foundation workshops before publication. For Kathy, meeting Patti Gauch at Chautauqua changed the course of her writing career. Kathy said, “Patti Gauch, my first editor, was a fantastic mentor and taught me SO much. I still hear her voice when I’m writing or editing my work…’Go to the well…Edit with a feather…Feel the emotion…Are you crying at your keyboard?'”
Kathy also talked about the mentorship given to her from the Highlights Foundation’s executive director, Kent Brown. She said, “I think of Kent Brown as a mentor, too, because he believed in me when I was starting out and supported my career in many ways. It’s a gift to have someone so committed to children’s writers and illustrators.”
When we asked Kristy about the role of mentors in her life, she said, “I haven’t been a part of any formal mentorship programs as a student, but many writers have encouraged me through the years: Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Janet Wong, and Lee Bennett Hopkins have all encouraged me in poetry. Tammi Sauer has been a consistent cheerleader and constructive criticizer for my picture book manuscripts. And years ago, Patricia McKissack read a very early manuscript of mine and gave me such great feedback and encouragement that I still feel today the breath of hope I received from her words. I think any kind of creative endeavor takes an extra measure of hope. That’s the kind of mentor I would like to be for others.”