HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8My Writing And Reading Life: Kat Zhang, Author of The Memory of Forgotten Things
My Writing And Reading Life Kat Zhang Author Of The Memory Of Forgotten Things

My Writing And Reading Life: Kat Zhang, Author of The Memory of Forgotten Things

The Children’s Book Review | August 15, 2018

Kat Zhang

Kat Zhang
Photo Credit: Alice Hong

Kat Zhang loves traveling to places both real and fictional—the former have better souvenirs, but the latter allow for dragons, so it’s a tough pick. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, she now spends her free time scribbling poetry, taking photographs, and climbing atop things she shouldn’t.

I write because …

My brain would get too full otherwise! Ever since I was a kid, my thoughts have always naturally settled on stories—while grocery shopping, while running, while lying in bed. Most of them are silly bits and pieces that don’t ultimately grow into a story substantial enough for a book, but some spark just the right idea—an idea that grows and grows until I have to write it down.

I read because …

Physically, I only get to live one life, one place at a time. But through books, I can live thousands—and choose exactly the sort of life I’d like to “live” on any particular day.

My latest published book is …

The Memory of Forgotten Things, which is about 12-year-old Sophia Wallace and her unusual memories—memories that don’t make sense, memories of her mother that occurred after her mother’s death.

I wrote this book because …

I wanted to write something about grief, and how it affects people in different ways—how it can feel like something impossible to move on from. I also wanted to write about the way things in our past, both happy and sad, make us who we are. And how, even if given the chance to rewrite our histories, such an opportunity may not be everything it seems to be.

Best moment …

Of writing the book? There are many, I think. The first few paragraphs of a new project are always beautiful and sweet—at this point, the book is still a perfect thing hanging in your thoughts, unblemished by the task of actually carving it out and putting it onto paper. It always gets messier from there. But I’m the sort of writer who actually enjoys revision better than drafting (other than those first few perfect paragraphs!), so there’s a lot of satisfaction in the first round of revisions, too, when you’ve got the raw fabric of a story in front of you, and your (editorial!) scissors in hand, ready to cut and mend it into something better.

My special place to write is …

I often have to fit in writing between other tasks, so I can’t afford to be too picky about where and when I write. My favorite time to write, however, is early in the morning. I inevitably feel more and more distracted as the day goes on, and the rest of the world wakes up. There’s something nice about writing late at night, after everyone else is asleep, too—but I’m not much of a night owl, so I’m usually too tired at this point!

Necessary writing/creativity tool …

I’m pretty hooked on writing with Scrivener at this point. It’s got a bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but I started using it years ago and have never looked back since! Otherwise, I’m still a big believer in writing long-hand when I get stuck. I don’t usually draft this way, but sometimes I’ll scribble plot points or outlines in a notebook instead of typing.

The person who has been my greatest writing teacher or inspiration is …

It’s hard to choose just one. So many people have inspired me and helped me along the way: the authors of all the books I loved and wanted to imitate as a child, the writing friends who helped me craft my first query letter or gave me advice about editing, my agent, my editors! And then, of course, there are the readers. There’s nothing more inspirational than a young (or older!) reader telling you that they loved your story.

Currently reading …

I’m about to start Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk.

Favorite bookshop …

I have a special fondness for Parnassus and Little Shop of Stories because they were the first indies I did events at when I was a debut. Since then, I’ve visited a lot of independent bookstores, and each one of them is so special and lovely in their own way.

All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t write…

Probably The Golden Compass. It was my absolute favorite book as a child, and I’ve always wanted to write a really detailed fantasy world like the one of the His Dark Materials series. Lyra was also the heroine of my childhood—I adored her.

Favorite illustrator …

My very first picture book, Amy Wu and the Amazing Bao, is coming out in 2019, and I’m working with illustrator Charlene Chua. She’s been absolutely amazing. I also really love the work Jim Tierney has done for the covers of The Emperor’s Riddle and The Memory of Forgotten Things. They suit the books perfectly, and are so gorgeous.

A literary character I would like to vacation with …

I’m going to have to be cliche and say Hermione Granger—but only if she takes me vacationing through the wizarding world!

When I am not reading or writing I am …

Probably studying for school! But outside of all that, I’m usually drawing, or painting, or watching a movie.

You can learn about Kat Zhang’s travels, literary and otherwise, at KatZhangWriter.com.

The Memory of Forgotten Things

Written by Kat Zhang

Publisher’s Synopsis: In the tradition of The Thing About Jellyfish and When You Reach Me, acclaimed author Kat Zhang offers a luminous and heartbreaking novel about a girl who is convinced that an upcoming solar eclipse will bring back her dead mother.

One of the happiest memories twelve-year-old Sophia Wallace has is of her tenth birthday. Her mother made her a cake that year—and not a cake from a boxed-mix, but from scratch. She remembers the way the frosting tasted, the way the pink sugar roses dissolved on her tongue.

This memory, and a scant few others like it, is all Sophia has of her mother, so she keeps them close. She keeps them secret, too. Because as paltry as these memories are, she shouldn’t have them at all.

The truth is, Sophia Wallace’s mother died when she was six years old. But that isn’t how she remembers it. Not always.

Sophia has never told anyone about her unusual memories—snapshots of a past that never happened. But everything changes when Sophia’s seventh grade English class gets an assignment to research solar eclipses. She becomes convinced that the upcoming solar eclipse will grant her the opportunity to make her alternate life come true, to enter a world where her mother never died.

With the help of two misfit boys, she must figure out a way to bring her mother back to her—before the opportunity is lost forever.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Aladdin | May 15, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1481478656

Available Here: 

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Discover more books like The Memory of Forgotten Things, written by Kat Zhang, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with  and ; plus, be sure to follow along with our Writing and Reading Life series.

The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by a guest author.

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