One of the best pieces of advice that Katelen Janke has ever received is to write about what you know. Taking this suggestion to heart, she chose a fascinating period in her town's history: the Dust Bowl. As she began her research, she found wonderful resources: the local museum and two elderly, retired schoolteachers who experienced the Dust Bowl era first hand. Much of her research also came from old newspapers, books, documentary videos, and web sites.
Her favorite part of writing historical fiction is the research. “I love exploring history!” Katelan says, “I discovered through my research, and especially through personal interviews, how history can become so much more than boring textbook facts-research brings everything to life!”
Personal interviews helped her see the very real emotions and thoughts experienced by those who endured the Dust Bowl. “An entire period of history became more special to me,” Katelan states, “more than just dates and names. History can be incredibly exciting if one searches beyond the ordinary!”
As long as she can remember, she always loved both reading and writing. Her second-grade teacher recognized her writing ability and urged her parents to encourage her writing. “She even predicted that I'd one day become a writer!” says Katelan. On Christmas Eve, 1999, she received a letter from Scholastic, Inc. asking her to turn her original Dear America contest entry into a full-length manuscript. “What an incredible Christmas surprise!” states Katelan.
Katelan Janke lives with her family in Dalhart, Texas, where she is an honor student at Dalhart High School. An extremely active student, she competes on three of her school's University Interscholastic League Academic Teams, is a Student Council Representative and is a member of various clubs, including the Drama and Speech Clubs. She also participates in the 4-H Club, her church's choir and youth groups. Her hobbies include playing the piano, cooking and visiting historical sites.