Children's Author

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Katharine H

00:00:03 I’m Katharine. I’m a children’s author and I write the Angelina Ballerina books. I went from high school to a rather creative college in Vermont, Bennington College, and I was a literature major there. So I carried on writing and studying literature.

00:00:25 I think when I graduated from university, I had no idea how I was going to become a writer. And I had an opportunity to go Europe in January of 1970, and I left my job, bought a ticket and off I went. Very fortunately, while I was living in Rome that year, I…well first of all, I met my husband. So I met the man of my life and I’m still married to him. But I stumbled upon a little niche for myself. I met the editor for Variety Magazine which is a Hollywood cinema magazine that’s published around the world.

00:01:05 He very kindly took me on as a stringer, which means he…I wasn’t paid, I don’t think, much more than my expenses, but it gave me an opportunity to really write for the first time. There I was, really writing my own stories and doing my own interviews and getting published. So the money didn’t seem that important; it was really about getting the experience.

00:01:35 Michael and I came to England in 1973. And neither of us had a job. Michael met an old friend and started a small publishing company. I said to him, ‘I’m a freelance writer. I’ve got to keep writing. Give me something to do. I’ll write anything for your company’. And I wrote jacket covers, you know, the backs. I wrote descriptions, I interviewed authors, I interviewed photographers. I wrote an introduction to a book. I did all those sorts of jobs for Oram Press when my children were very young.

00:02:07 And then, the turning point came when I met Helen Craig, who’s a wonderful illustrator and was then a freelance artist. And we hit upon this great collaboration. The inspiration for Angelina Ballerina really came from my daughters. So I have to give them the credit, because I don’t think, if I hadn’t been living with little children every day and watching these passions that they had for ballet and dancing and performing and all their dramatic ups and downs every day, I wouldn’t have been so inspired.

00:02:52 Oram Press wanted Helen to illustrate a story book. So I volunteered and said, ‘let me try. I think, you know, I’d like to write a story for children’. So I literally came home one day and sat down at the kitchen table and these two little girls dancing round me in circles and I wrote Angelina Ballerina, pretty much on the spot. And Helen Craig read it and liked it and we took it and showed it to the publishers and they decided to do it.

00:03:24 So that was just the biggest thrill of my life really. At the time I had no idea that this was going to turn into such a long running series of books and that it would change my life so incredibly. I just find the whole process and the whole world of a children’s author really suits me, so I’ve been very lucky.

00:03:51 When I was a child, I wanted to be first, a prima ballerina. Then I wanted to be a horse for a while because I was madly in love with horses, and then I wanted to be a veterinarian because I wanted to save animals. So, you know, those…I have had other dreams and passions but they’ve all sort of coalesced into this. I feel it’s just where I belong. I do.

Katharine Holabird is the author of the Angelina Ballerina stories. Her first job in publishing was for Variety magazine. It was very badly paid but it gave her the chance to write stories and interviews, and get them published.

More information about Authors, writers and translators

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

41%  male 
59%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Job holders in this unit group write, edit and evaluate literary material for publication excluding material for newspapers, magazines and other periodicals but including scripts and narrative for film, TV, radio and computer games and animations; and translate spoken and written statements into different languages.
Entry is possible with a variety of academic qualifications and/or relevant experience. Postgraduate and professional qualifications are available and are required for some occupations.
  • Determines subject matter and researches as necessary by interviewing, attending public events, seeking out records, observing etc.;
  • Generates and develops creative ideas for literary material;
  • Selects material for publication, checks style, grammar and accuracy of content, arranges for any necessary revisions and checks proof copies before printing;
  • Negotiates contracts with freelance agents and with buyer on behalf of writer;
  • Writes instruction manuals and user guides, technical reports, catalogues and indexes, prepares sales literature and writes technical articles for trade journals;
  • Converts documents or spoken statements from original or source language into another language;
  • Provides communication support for the hard of hearing or the visually impaired.
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