Author Interview with K. M. Waldvogel
In honor of Women’s History Month, I’m so happy to feature K.M. Waldvogel and her marvelous book, Spies, Soldiers, Couriers, & Saboteurs: Women of the American Revolution. This is an interesting read for adults and kids! I love stories about our lesser known heroes in history. Each woman featured in this book is a great example of bravery in the face of danger and a commitment to a cause bigger than themselves. This is a super addition to any home, public library, or classroom collection. Well-written and well-researched, the book is a wonderful window to the past.
ABOUT THE BOOK: The Revolutionary War has divided the country. Neighbor has turned against neighbor. Family members argue with family members. Angry rumblings of "no taxation without representation" surround you.
You dream of a new country and crave independence from Britain. But do you have the courage to act on your feelings? Will you spy on the enemy? Will you fight for freedom? Are you willing to risk your life for your beliefs?
These are the stories of courageous women who did just that.
And I was pleased K.M. (Kathy) Waldvogel, had the time for an interview. Kathy and I have known each other for a number of years through our membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, so it’s lovely to celebrate her book during March along with women’s history.
Q. Kathy, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing adventures so far?
A. Thank you so much Valerie! I have been writing since fourth grade when my teacher complimented my writing and encouraged me to continue. While I was growing up, I wrote stories that I would share with my best friend – who today is still my biggest fan – and I found that writing brought me joy.
I mustered my courage and started submitting stories to various writing contests. I had some success with that, so began writing longer pieces. I also joined several writing critique groups to help me improve my craft.
As I began my research for Spies, Soldiers, Couriers, and Saboteurs: Women of the American Revolution, I realized this would be a lengthy project as it involved a great deal of research – some online and some visiting museums and historic sites out east. The book took me six years to research and finish writing, but I’m thrilled that it was published.
At the same time that I was working on my middle-grade book, I also wrote a rhyming picture book titled Three Little Ghosts. I wrote this after spending Halloween with my grandchildren and I tried to capture their excitement of the holiday. I’m also the author of Whoo, Whoo, Who’s Out There? My inspiration for Whoo, Whoo came from seeing a baby owl in a tree. His eyes were so huge and he looked so scared and vulnerable that I wanted to write about the uncertainty many of us feel when in a situation where we feel alone.
In addition, I have a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Attitude of Gratitude. This piece of nonfiction deals with my husband and I recognizing changes in life and our attempt at downsizing. While I’m thrilled to be included in this book, my heart really is in writing for children.
Q. Would you be willing to share with readers the different types of jobs you’ve had? I always like to ask authors this, mainly because authors always seem to have had interesting job histories.
A. Oh, I have had a lot of different jobs! Starting with high school, here we go!
Babysitting, waitressing, clerical work, medical transcriptionist, newspaper advertising coordinator, dispatcher/jailer, elementary school teacher, middle school teacher, adjunct college instructor …. and now …. author/speaker
Q. What was your inspiration for this informative book?
A. When I was teaching fifth grade, we were reading about the American Revolution in our social studies class. It renewed my interest in American History, but I wondered about the role of women during this war. I began reading as many books on the subject as I could find.
Once I retired, I decided to merge my passion for writing with my passion for history. I focused on little-known women who worked with the Patriots to defeat the British. I was intrigued by these women and their stories, and I was delighted that Spies, Soldiers, Couriers, and Saboteurs: Women of the American Revolution was accepted and published by Orange Hat Publishing. I’m honored to bring to light stories of these courageous women.
Q. There were so many amazing women that I learned about as I read the book. How did you decide who to include? I’m sure the task was daunting as you did your research.
A. Initially I thought I would write about one of the women – Deborah Samson. She had been mentioned in the social studies textbook my class was reading, and I wanted to learn more about her. As I began my research, I told my best friend about Samson. My friend thought it would be interesting to learn about her, and then she mentioned that she herself was actually a shirttail relative of Sybil Ludington. I then researched Ludington and found about how she rode through the night to muster the militia after hearing the British were marching to Concord.
This led me to another woman’s story, which led me to another story and so on. I wanted to focus on little-known women who simply felt it was important to help the Patriots' cause. After the war, each woman returned to her normal way of life.
I wanted young readers to know that these were ordinary women but their stories are an important part of our country’s history.
Q. Do you have a favorite?
A. I admire each of these women and I am in awe of the courage and determination they displayed. One of the women, though, really stood out for me and that is Martha Bratton.
Her husband, Colonel William Bratton, was away from their home when Captain Christian Huck arrived at Martha’s home looking for her husband. Martha refused to divulge information as to William’s whereabouts despite Huck’s threats against her. Another British officer intervened, saving Martha’s life before Huck and his men went to a neighboring plantation. Bratton received word about Huck’s location and ambushed the Tories at the neighbor’s property. Fighting spilled over to the Bratton plantation and Martha cared for the wounded men, whether friend or enemy. She even intervened when informed that the British officer who had saved her life was to be hanged since he was an officer.
I admire her ability to help those who had recently threatened her and her children. She was a strong, compassionate woman.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your publisher and how this book came to be?
A. Orange Hat Publishing in Waukesha, Wisconsin is my publisher. I had initially attended a writing conference in Oshkosh where I discovered Orange Hat. After the conference, I submitted a picture book manuscript to them, which they accepted – Three Little Ghosts. I had a positive experience with them, so when I completed Spies, Soldiers, Couriers, and Saboteurs: Women of the American Revolution, I queried Orange Hat again. I was very excited when they agreed to publish and I realized that the stories I wrote about these courageous women would be shared with others.
Q. I know that the book is available to buy in some very interesting places. Can you share some of those locations with us?
A. I am very lucky to have support from a number of vendors both locally and nationally. Locally my books are available through bookstores and a number of gift shops. As you mentioned, though, it is also in some other interesting locations. I’m thrilled that my book is stocked and sold at the Paul Revere House as well as the Old North Church Bookshop in Boston. Other museums and historic sites also carry it, including Travelers Rest Historic Museum in South Carolina, Historic Zoar Village & Fort Laurens Museum in Ohio, Lexington Historical Society, and several museums in Wisconsin.
Q. If there’s anything that you wish you could go back and tell your “unpublished” self, what would that be?
A. Writing the book is exciting and having it published is fantastic. However, now your work really begins! Be ready to “put yourself out there” and tell people about your book. You need to understand that the book will not market itself. You are responsible for doing this.
Before the actual publication date, sit down and consider who may have interest in your book and decide how you are going to inform them about it. This takes a lot of time, so understand that unless you are disciplined, you may put off creating more work. Don’t do this!
Writing is what gives you joy, so continue to write.
A. I enjoy a variety of genres – cozy mysteries, historical fiction, memoirs, humorous. Growing up, I read a lot of mysteries such as Nancy Drew because I always tried to figure out the mystery. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t, but I enjoyed putting the clues together. One of my favorite books that I read in high school was The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fennimore Cooper. I enjoyed the history.
Q. Do you plan to do another book of this type – perhaps women “Women of the Civil War?” Can we look forward to more books from you in the coming months?
A. I have been mulling that idea around in my head. Maybe a second volume of “Women of the American Revolution” or “Women of the Civil War.”
Right now I am writing a middle-grade time-travel book where students are transported to the 1770s. I’m excited about the adventure in the book and I’m hoping to complete that in the coming months.
I’m also working on some picture books as I love writing for very young children, so I hope to have another book out soon.
Q. Before we move on to the Super Six list, is there anything else you want to tell readers about yourself or your book(s)?
A. Being an author has provided me with some wonderful opportunities. I enjoy visiting schools and sharing my work with students. I’ve done this in person as well as via Zoom. The interaction with children is wonderful. I also speak to various organizations about my research and writing and I would enjoy hearing from groups who may have interest in me doing this. Sometimes I speak to local civic organizations but I’ve also presented to a number of organizations via Zoom or Google Meet throughout the country. I hope that you will reach out to me if you are interested.
Super Six List:
Fav Pizza Topping: Fresh tomatoes and basil
Book You’re Reading Now: 'Hot Fudge Frame-Up' by Christine DeSmet
Coffee, Tea, or Both: Both. Although I start every day with coffee, I also enjoy sitting in front of the fireplace and sipping a cup of tea.
Fav Activity as a Child: Riding bike and feeling the wind in my hair
Most Interesting Place You’ve Lived: Arizona – tons of hiking trails, sunshine, gorgeous sunsets
Best Place You’ve Vacationed: Probably Boston. I loved the history and walking the Freedom Trail.
Q. How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Thanks so much, Kathy!!