An interview with....author Kate Pankhurst
We were delighted to welcome author and illustrator Kate Pankhurst as our speaker at a recent Cityparents event. We go behind the scenes with her and explore what inspires her.
Q. What inspired you to write Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World and Fantastically Great Women Who Made History?
A. Many of my stories start with a doodle! One particular doodle led to me explore the life story of Amelia Earhart and soon after, my agent was asking me about my family connection to Emmeline Pankhurst. From there grew the idea of creating a book about women who have changed the world in some way.
Q. Who is your most inspirational woman in your Fantastically Great Women books and why?
A. I would probably choose Noor Inayat Khan, a British heroine of World War II who was the first female wireless operator to be sent into occupied France to aid the French Resistance. Before becoming a spy, she was an author living in Paris, subsequently forced to flee to England.
Q. Are the Fantastically Great Women books aimed just at girls, or do you plan to write a ‘Fantastically Great Men’ series as well?
A. They were originally conceived with girls aged 5-8 in mind, but I’m delighted that they are appealing to boys of a similar age too. Part of the success of the books is that they send positive messages through the strong characters they feature. This helps challenge some of the mental assumptions younger children (girls and boys) might have about what they can or can’t do. I don’t have any plans to write a similar series about historical male figures – I would perhaps approach this topic in a slightly different format.
Q. Has your family connection to Emmeline Pankhurst influenced your views and writing and if so, how?
A. The family connection wasn’t something we talked about much as a family when I was growing up. Later on, my aunt researched our family tree to find out more about the connection. Reading up about Emmeline Pankhurst’s life did lead me on to researching other notable women in history, as we started to sketch out plans for the first book.
Q. How can we help children learn about the power of writing and illustrating to bring about awareness and change, as well as develop their own creativity?
A. The power of pictures for children is amazing. Young children can get so much out of picture books long before they start to read – they absorb visual stories, join in the story telling, and get excited about things they are seeing in books. Encourage them to doodle too. A blank page can feel quite daunting to children as well as adults; just making a few marks and scribbles on the page is a great way of opening up creative possibilities as well as helping children to explore the world around them.
Q. If a child is reluctant to read regularly, as an author what suggestions could you offer to parents to help them encourage a love of reading in their children?
A. Try books with interesting pictures and illustrations, even as your child gets older, as children enjoy the visual element enormously. Keeping a journal is another great way of encouraging children to enjoy reading and writing. Also why not drawing with your child, perhaps adding in things you’ve spotted or heard during your day? It all helps to encourage children to question the world around them and develop enthusiasm for finding out more about the things that interest them.
Q. What achievements are you most proud of and looking ahead, what unfulfilled ambitions do you have?
A. I am planning more books in the Fantastically Great Women series, so watch this space! Next February Fantastically Great Women Who Worked Wonders will be published. This focuses on pioneering women in the work place.
Kate Pankhurst illustrates and writes from her studio in Leeds with her spotty dog, Olive. She loves a good story, the funnier the better and gets her best ideas by doodling in her sketchbook; because even quick wonky drawings can spark ideas for amazing plots. As a child Kate spent most of her time drawing silly characters and thinking up funny things for them to do, she feels very lucky to now do this as her job.
Released On 4th Oct 2018