By Ainslie Cromar – Life Editor
Children’s book author and illustrator Kate Berube spoke on May 27 about her path to becoming an award-winning published writer, acting as the final hurrah of Clark’s 30th annual Columbia Writers Series and weeklong Spring literary festival.
Berube said she’s loved writing books since elementary school and a long path of lessons, education and mentorship led her to publish her first book, “Hannah and Sugar,” in 2016. The book won the Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature from Literary Arts Oregon that year.
She said that during her time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before her work was published, she wrote a book about a boy who endured exciting adventures during his sleep titled “It was all just a dream.” Berube said she knew it was a cliche. “When you first start, you’re going to write the cliche things.”
After leaving Chicago, Berube moved to Portland and began nannying, where she picked up her idea for “Hannah and Sugar.” She said she created characters based off her own life, like Sugar and Violet P.
She said writing the book took a couple years and she learned many lessons including keeping a clear mind, strategies to bring out inspiration and development of her style.
“Style isn’t something you decide on ahead of time,” Berube said. “It’s something you come to.”
In order to conjure the right backgrounds for her scenes, down to the tiniest details, she said she gathers photos of rooms from blogs she follows and sketches them.
She said guided writing and style books helped her gain confidence and when she can’t find inspiration within herself, she will “pull a book out, make a cup of tea and open it randomly.”
The Columbia Writers series began at Clark in 1988 and hosts the annual Subtext literary festival every Spring since 2015.