Katie and Kimble: A Ghost Story by Linda Thieman

About the author:

Linda Thieman (pronounced TEE-mun) writes the Katie and Kimble chapter book series (RL3) and runs the Katie and Kimble Blog (http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com). She is a former English language teacher who has created a set of reading skills worksheets and classroom materials that teachers and homeschoolers can download from the Katie and Kimble Blog free of charge. The materials correspond to the first two books in the Katie and Kimble series and are guided by the standards set for third grade reading skills in Iowa school systems.Linda lives in Sioux City, Iowa. She hopes to publish Katie and Kimble: The Golden Door (book 3) in 2009.

You can visit Linda's website at http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com/

About the book:

Nine-year-old Katie Russell and her family LOOK like a normal family. But the Russells don't know they are living with Kimble, the ghost of a ten-year-old girl. That is, until Katie discovers Kimble and the two of them set off on a quest to find out what happened to Kimble's mother. -- Katie and Kimble: A Ghost Story is a chapter book at RL3 (reading level 3), and is the first in a series. The Katie and Kimble books are funny, engaging and exciting, but are not fear-based.

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask the author a few questions. This is what she had to say:

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

Katie and Kimble: A Ghost Story is about a good-hearted and loving girl named Katie, 9, who moves into an old house out in the country with her family. There, she soon meets Kimble, the ghost of a 10-year-old girl. Kimble needs to know what happened to her mother, so she and Katie set off on a quest to find out. This story is the first book in a chapter book series for ages 7 to 10.

Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?

I’ve never shared this before, but, yes, around the time that Katie and Kimble: A Ghost Story was forming in my mind, a teacher-friend of mine allowed me to read an essay written by a 4th grade girl. The girl told the story of how when she got home from school everyday, she was all alone, so her mom had given her strict instructions not to let anyone into the house. Well, one day, the little five-year-old neighbor girl who lived right next door was locked out of her house, and she had to use the bathroom. So, I thought with what showed much compassion and common sense, the 4th grader let the little girl inside her own house to use the bathroom. But when her mother found out, she hit the ceiling. She was so angry that her daughter had gone against her wishes and had let someone into the house. So, the girl concluded that the most important lesson she’d learned from that was never to disobey her mother.

At about that time in the story, I was almost screaming in anguish. I can totally relate to where the mother was coming from. She couldn’t be there, and she needed to know that her daughter was safe. The mother was coming from a place of fear and, I imagine, exhaustion. But I thought, oh, such a wonderful learning opportunity missed! It would have been appropriate to praise the girl for her compassion and common sense, and then to launch into a discussion with a series of different scenarios to help sharpen her growing independent judgment. For example, if a man from our church comes to the door, says his car has broken down, and he needs to use the phone, do you let him in? No, never let a man in. Don’t even open the door. If a teacher from school comes and says your mother is hurt and he needs to take you to the hospital, do you let him in? No, never let a man in, never leave the house with anyone, and if your mother were hurt, then don’t believe it unless Aunt Jane is at the door telling you about it. Can you let Aunt Jane in? Yes, it is always appropriate to let Aunt Jane in.

So, in Katie and Kimble: A Ghost Story, I wanted to write a tale of a girl who was growing in independence, and I wanted to show how her parents helped her to become independent by talking her through her decisions, before or after they were made, and respecting the decisions she made.

What cause are you most passionate about and why?

Since I was 14 and read The Godfather, I’ve always been fascinated by power. And I don’t mean the kind of power where you have to live in fear to keep it. I mean the true power that comes from within. In my interactions as a teacher and in my interactions as a writer, I’ve always tried to include a strong element of empowerment. With my students, I would explain why we did what we did—I didn’t just lay down the law. I would show them that I was taking their schedules into consideration. I would give them tips on how to survive in an American classroom setting, which is very different from how classes are run in Japan, which is where I was teaching at the time. Then, as a freelancer, I did articles on alternative health and a lot of "how-to" articles, particularly on starting businesses. With the Katie and Kimble series, each book contains some element of growth and empowerment for both Katie and Kimble.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently in the middle of writing the third book in the series, Katie and Kimble: The Golden Door. I hope to bring it out in the fall of 2009.

What do you feel sets the Katie and Kimble books apart from others in the same genre?

Well, I’m not sure if the Katie and Kimble books actually fit into a genre or not. They are ghost stories, to be sure, but they are not horror stories, and they very deliberately are not fear-based.

But if you’re talking about children’s literature in general, then I’d say that one of the main things that sets the Katie and Kimble stories apart is that I don’t just gloss over grief and pretend it doesn’t exist or it doesn’t matter. Kimble is stuck in ghostly form because she is grieving the loss of her mother, and I address that and allow Kimble to achieve some measure of healing.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?

Bar none, the most important lesson I’ve learned is never to make an important decision while grieving. And, I might add to that, while in the first throes of a mad, passionate love. I think both grief and the elation of being in love pull one from one’s center, and if possible, one should wait it out to make a big decision until some sense of balance has been restored.

Is there anything you regret doing/not doing?

In honor of the name of your blog, I’ll give a zen-like answer: I regret everything and I regret nothing. By that I mean, if I actually spent much time thinking about the past, then I could regret a lot of things that happened in my life. However, I’m rather of the mindset that spending time on regrets is a waste of energy, so I just don’t do it. I just accept what has been and I move on. And sometimes, I’m even successful at it!

What is your favorite past-time?

I come from a big baseball family—Cubs fans for generations. However, in 2000, I switched over to following the Diamondbacks and starting with spring training in 2001, I either listened to every game on MLB radio on the computer, or I watched the games on TV, when we could get them here in Iowa. Did not miss one game. That was the year the D’backs won the World Series. Never in my life did I think I would experience that kind of elation. Now, I’m too busy to follow baseball, but this past year, I did rent all 11 seasons of Frasier. Became a huge fan of David Hyde Pierce (Niles). He just made that show, and he carried himself with such an interesting combination of stiffness and grace. Physically, he reminded me a lot of Frank Sinatra and his graceful swagger.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Yes, thank you. Please feel free to visit the Katie and Kimble blog (http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com). If you go to the right sidebar, you can download the first six chapters of Katie and Kimble: A Ghost Story for free. It includes all the pictures, too.

Children’s book author Linda Thieman writes the Katie and Kimble: A Ghost Story chapter book series for ages 7 to 10, and runs the Katie and Kimble blog. http://www.katieandkimbleblog.com
She has a master’s degree in applied linguistics and is a former English language teacher who has created a set of reading skills activity packets and classroom materials that teachers and homeschoolers can download free of charge from the Katie and Kimble blog. These materials are guided by the national standards set for third grade reading and language skills. Linda lives in Sioux City, Iowa. She hopes to publish Katie and Kimble: The Golden Door in 2009.


KATIE AND KIMBLE VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR '09 will officially begin on January 1 and end on January 30. You can visit Linda's blog stops at http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in January to find out more about this talented lady!As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available.

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Linda Thieman said...

Thanks for the great interview, Tracee! Wonderful blog. Love the design.

Tucker Tjaden said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Katie and Kimble with my daughter. But I am totally intrigued by author Linda Thieman's Zen like responses to the concept of regret and the way she deals with grief and empowering women in her writing. (People - if you haven't actually read all of Thieman's interview it is well worth the time!)

Great Book, Great Blog, Thank you both!