Kathy Coughlin is a former English teacher who now works as a freelance writer and editor. Coughlin lives in Oak Grove, Minnesota with her husband Mike and her dog, Selby.
1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
“We’re All Animals” is a set of thirty children’s stories that teach tolerance, respect, and compassion for animals, thereby fostering greater empathy toward other humans. Well-documented connections exist between a child’s empathy for animals and his or her empathy toward people, and I believe we can’t begin too early to impart these important lessons.
2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
As a longtime animal advocate, I really didn’t need to do much research for this project. There are countless ways our worlds intersect with animals, and my challenge was to highlight some of those intersections with short, engaging stories.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Early on, my son and partner in this project decided that each story should 1) teach an important lesson, 2) be entertaining to a child, and 3) be short. The most difficult part was keeping each story within a specified word count.
4. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
My first children’s book, entitled LUCIUS AND HIS COLLECTION OF UNUSUAL THINGS, published several years ago, was whimsical and fun. But I realized I wanted to do more than make children laugh; I wanted to teach and inspire them.
5. Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
Ruby Roth has written a few children’s books with the same animal welfare theme that I espouse, and she has been one of my inspirations. Ruby was actually the illustrator of my story series.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I don’t have any other children’s books in process, but I’m definitely open to writing more if and when inspiration strikes! And as I don’t write exclusively for children, I’m also somewhat continuously working on my own memoir.
7. What does literary success look like to you?
My story series falls into the genre “humane education.” It has been adopted by TeachKind, the humane education arm of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Literary success, to me, would have my stories widely used in schools and homes to teach kids how to be kind to animals and kind to humans, all while being entertained.
8. What inspired you to start writing?
What inspired me to start THIS particular writing project was the vast body of research that shows that children who learn empathy through animal companionship show greater empathy toward other humans. Our world needs nothing more than greater respect, tolerance, and compassion, which are the values my stories promote.
9. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I have many interests and hobbies: reading, tennis, pickleball, playing piano, nutrition, gardening, and hanging out with my dog.
10. Do you have a website or social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?
You can order this box set of “We’re All Animals” and learn more about this project at goodkidproject.com. My own website, kathycoughlin.com features my memoir-writing services for seniors and freelance editing.