Most of the subjects I have written about were brought to me by editors. Even my first history book, “Election Day: An American Holiday, An American History,” was suggested by an editor. The collaborations have always been brought to me by an agent or editor who needs a writer to work with an expert. I am always curious about almost everything, so if someone suggests a topic, it is easy for me to become enthusiastic about it.
Kate Kelly's career path has taken her from college life as a theater major to a life as an author and historian. "My senior thesis was about a 19th-century actress, so there is a connection," she points out. "Though I never would have guessed then that I would find myself writing about history." On her website, America Comes Alive, she introduces readers to incredible Americans and shows how stories about America's past continue to inform our future.
Kelly lives with her husband in the suburbs of New York City. "I have three daughters, 29, 26, and 21, so I am no longer in the parenting trenches," she says. "I can testify that it’s very rewarding to have grown children out doing interesting things that they share with you."
She took the time to share with Work It, Mom! some of the interesting things she's working on right now -- including ways to use history to bring families closer, now that school has been added back in to our work-life juggle -- and offers some advice for work-at-home moms.
Tell us a bit about your career path.
It became clear early in my working life that I absorbed the written word better than the spoken word, so I moved from a job at CBS Radio to a job in public relations so that I could polish my writing skills. I eventually began freelancing for magazines and collaborating on books.
History is really a form of storytelling -- it needs to be both interesting and factual, and while I have never wanted to write a novel, I love finding and telling people’s stories. I grew up in Pueblo, Colorado, where my parents were very active in the community, so I learned at that time that America is worth working for, and that we have a history and culture that is important to honor and preserve.
After I finished my last collaborative book (a book on back pain written with a doctor), I decided it was time to use my skills to share what I can learn about our country’s past by creating my website, www.americacomesalive.com. I hope that if people have a better understanding of where we have come from, they will work to preserve it.
You've written about so many different things, from getting organized to politics to science to American history. How do you settle on a topic?