Remembering Katherine Kellgren

Sad news from Shelf Awareness today: 

Obituary Note: Katherine Kellgren

Katherine Kellgren

“Katherine Kellgren, who narrated more than 200 audio books and was winner of multiple Audie Awards, died on January 10 after a long battle with cancer. Robin Whitten, founder of Audiofile Magazine, called Kellgren ‘a brilliant narrator… Her wonderful performances are known and loved by listeners. Her work was celebrated with every audio book award—Golden Voice, Earphones, Audie Awards, Odyssey, Voice of Choice, and more. Her kindness and indomitable spirit were loved and cherished by her colleagues and friends. We will miss her greatly. However, Katy leaves us with the enduring treasure of her audio books.’ In lieu of flowers, please donate to Hispanic Federation to help the people of Puerto Rico.”

Katie Kellgren narrated my books Grayling’s SongWill Sparrow’s Road, and Alchemy and Meggy Swann, for which she won numerous awards. We had many phone calls as we worked together on the books, and Katie was always delightful, warm, funny, and brilliant at inventing voices and accents that made me laugh out loud right there on the telephone. The book world will be a sadder place without her.

In no other place or time

Q. Some people feel that if the writer has lived through it, it can’t be termed historical fiction. Teachers are considering historical fiction to be anything before 2000, because their students didn’t live through those times. How do you feel about this? Is The Loud Silence of Francine Green historical fiction?

A. Jane Yolen says that children think a historical novel is about anything that happened before they were born. But that misses what I think is the most important attribute of a historical novel: it tells a story that could not possibly have happened in any other place or time, a story that results from the combination of character and circumstances. The character would not have been faced with the particular situation or issues at any other time. The situation springs from the period, focused through individuals. For example, The Loud Silence of Francine Green and the anti-communist hysteria of the late 1940s/early 1950s. Or Catherine Called Birdy facing an arranged marriage for her family’s gain. Or the science that made alchemy believable while superstition prevailed in Alchemy and Meggy Swann.

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The Story Sleuths

Alchemy and Meggy SwannAllyson Valentine Schrier, Meg Lippert, and Heather Hedin Singh, the women behind The Story Sleuths, did a seven-part series on Alchemy and Meggy Swann, culminating in an interview with me. They look at things such as character transformation, inner dialogue, and details. It’s a good thing an author doesn’t have to plan all of this while writing a story. Much better to have the readers mull it all over and find meaning.

On the road with Will Sparrow

Alchemy and Meggy Swann, Will Sparrow's RoadKaty Kellgren, who was so magnificent as the narrator of the award-winning audio book of Meggy Swann, has agreed to work her magic on an audio book for Will Sparrow’s Road. Thank you to Katy, and to May Wuthrich and Orli Moscowitz of Random House Listening Library. How did I get so lucky? Look for an excerpt on this website in November.