Six Questions with Catherine Bailey
Catherine Bailey is an award-winning children’s author and youth presenter from sunny Florida. Her recent books include Harbor Bound (Disney/Hyperion, 2019), Dino's Don't Do Yoga (Sounds True, 2020), and Hustle, Bustle Bugs (LLBYR, 2022). When Catherine is not writing, or editing, or swatting at mosquitoes, she looks after her husband and two children. All three of them are quite sticky, and none like bedtime, but she loves them anyway. Her prior job titles include Lawyer, Sailboat Deckhand, and Cartoon Network Intern. Her hobbies include snacking, reading, and travel. Visit Catherine's website to learn more about her and her work.
1. Who was your favorite author when you were a child?
My favorite author as a child was Roald Dahl. I adored his dry sense of humor and wonderful characters. I was often babysat by a British couple that I dearly loved, Hilda and Georgie Shipley, and so have always had an affinity for that sense of language and humor.
2. What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids?
Varied imagery, child-friendly tension / a problem, and clever language. A well-balanced plot (pacing!) is also critical, as is that certain something that pings with readers on an emotional level – whether it be humor or heart.
3. What three things bring you joy?
I pride myself on being an (admittedly annoying!) optimist – so there are many things that bring me joy. My children and husband make me laugh every day, and we have a new puppy that has brought a lot of love to our home. Most recently I’ve discovered the joy of mulching my garden beds – it is SO satisfying!
4. Was this always the title for this project?
The original title for my latest book was not actually Hustle Bustle Bugs. It was Ugly Bugly, and the entire text was actually a collection of poems about bugs. However, the more poems I wrote, the more I noticed a common theme among these itty bitty insects -- they were ALWAYS BUSY! I was impressed with their work ethic and that led to the current version of the book, which celebrates bugs doing different “jobs.”
5. What was the biggest challenge you faced while researching and writing this book?
The hardest part of writing this book was narrowing the focus to only a few insects. There are so many exotic and exciting critters out there (Spiny Flower Mantis! Scorpionfly! Hercules Beetle!), but I needed to focus the story on common backyard bugs. The *second* hardest part of writing this book was researching spiders. I am TERRIFIED of spiders and would have to sometimes read my screen through squinted eyes so as not to see the photos of those creepy crawly arachnids!
6. If you read this book to a room filled with kids, what message would you want them to leave with?
There are many goodies crammed into Hustle Bustle Bugs, from fun nonfiction factoids to lessons about community. My favorite message in this book is that “hustling” – ie, hard work – is an important part of our lives. I was blessed to be raised by an ambitious, hardworking family. They taught me the value of perseverance, productivity and drive. And yes, each of those traits is critical to getting a children’s book published!