Author Interview: Kathi Appelt

Today, the Book Monsters is happy to host Kathi Appelt to chat about her latest book, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp which we just reviewed! Learn more about the process of writing this book below and find out what else Kathi is up to writing-wise.

Describe your book in five words or less.

Raccoons Save Swamp from Hogs!

How did the idea for “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp” come to you?

One morning my friend Cynthia Leitich Smith sent me an email that said, “Write something funny.” At first, I didn’t get it. What did she mean by that? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really needed to write something funny. My most recent books had been somewhat dark, and I needed to lighten up a bit. So, I started thinking about the things that make me laugh. I had just watched a documentary on PBS about raccoons. And while they didn’t necessarily make me roll on the floor with laughter, they impressed me with their cunning and smarts. So, I started with the raccoons. I also loved the idea of them living in an old abandoned car, one that still had enough juice in its battery that it might come to life a bit if it were struck by lightning. And that was how it all began. Thank you, Cynthia!

What kind of research, if any, did you do for “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp”?

Despite the airy flavor of this book, I did do quite a bit of research. I started out by researching raccoons, which lead to research on hood ornaments which lead to the DeSoto, and that lead to research on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and Big Foot and sugar cane and Polaroid cameras and Marine Band harmonicas and . . . well, you get the idea.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Scouts is my 39th book. My favorite is always the book that I’m working on. That’s where all my energy is. So, for now, the book in front of me is the one that is calling to me.

What’s next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?

Speaking of . . . I’m always working on a project or two. Right now, I’m working on a novel that I co-wrote with Alison McGhee. We’re in the revision stage of it. I’m also working on a non-fiction book—I’m in the research stage on that one. Beyond those, I have another middle grade novel that I’m working on, plus a couple of picture book projects. I actually keep an “idea file” on my computer, and right now there are far more ideas listed in there than I’ll ever have time to address. But once in a while, one will bubble up and demand attention. Plus, I have to remind myself that an idea is not the same thing as a story. Some ideas will always be just that—an idea.

I’m so excited to see your next books come out as well! Thanks for answering my questions Kathi!

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the highly acclaimed novel KeeperThe True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, and many picture books. She is a member of the faculty at Vermont College’s Master of Fine Arts program. She has two grown children and lives in Texas with her husband. For more information, visit her website at

Watch these two rascally raccoons in the most adorable book trailer ever:
Be sure to visit Kathi’s other stops on her blog tour!
Mon, Aug 12
Tues, Aug 13
There’s a Book
Wed, Aug 14
Bigfoot Reads
Thurs, Aug 15
Read Now, Sleep Later
Fri, Aug 16
I Read Banned Books
Sat, Aug 17
Booking Mama
Mon, Aug 19
The Compulsive Reader
Tues, Aug 20
Mother Daughter Book Club
Wed, Aug 21
The Book Monsters
Thurs, Aug 22
Fri, Aug 23
The Brain Lair



Kristen is the co-blog owner of The Book Monsters. Kristen is an Elementary School Library Media Specialist in the Chicago suburbs who loves reading. Why else would she be a librarian?

Latest posts by Kristen (see all)


7 responses to “Author Interview: Kathi Appelt

  1. Jason f

    YouMy children are always looking for the next great read. I am also, and the interview has me hooked for this one.r Comment Here…

  2. My daughter absolutely LOVES all your books.  I love the fact that you push the kids with your MG novels to think about things in different ways.  I teach Advanced English and your books are a great push for them!

  3. How delightful. My nephew is at a point where he's reading on his own now and I'm constantly looking for books that will keep him engaged. It's so incredibly easy for youngsters, especially boys to lose interest in reading.

    I'm curious about the link between raccoons and hood ornaments, though. How in the world did one lead to the other?


  4. Dorothy Teel

    TRue Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp – sounds like a fun book to read, I like that because of a friends plea to write a fun book that your research and talents went into writing this book.  and will be fun to see how the Raccons save the swamp from the Hogs..

  5. This book is definitely on my to read list. I didn't know that they author has written 39 books, but I've had my eye on "the Underneath" for awhile. Time to check out her backlist! Thank you!

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