Katherine Applegate was born a very long time ago in Michigan. She grew up in the suburbs, suffered no major traumas, was not shaped by great historical events, and never learned storytelling at the feet of a wise and wonderful grandmother.
She attended school where she practiced obsessive hand-washing, procrastination, oversensitivity to insults, and the nurturing of grudges.
What she really wanted to do was raise gerbils. She accomplished this at age ten, leaving her without life goals. Her liberal arts education failed to adequately prepare her for a career as anything other than a college student, so when she was graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, she hooked up with a hobo who would later be known as Michael Grant and who would, many years later, be asked to write this profile.
For the next seven years Katherine worked in the restaurant and flower-delivery trades, before settling down to clean homes and offices. Despite the promises of fulfillment and glamour, Katherine was not happy cleaning toilets for a living and decided that she and her husband should become famous authors.
Another three years passed before Katherine and Michael realized that their plan would require them to actually write something.
Their first book was a Harlequin romance novel. There followed a great deal of ghostwriting. But within a few years they’d created the Animorphs series and were living very large indeed, going into semi-retirement, buying expensive cars, and having children.
Which led, in short order, to the need to get back to work. A new plan was hatched: rather than writing together, they would write separately. Michael would focus on frightening teenagers, and Katherine would write timeless literary classics and win the Newbery.
Yes, it’s pretty much the standard story we’ve all heard a million times before: the predictable, plodding progression from middle-class gerbil-breeding suburban girl, to college student, to hobo’s spouse, to table-waiter, to toilet-cleaner, to Harlequin author, to Sweet Valley Twins ghostwriter, to coauthor of three science-fiction series, to fortune-squandering unemployable has-been, to acclaimed prize-winning author of a timeless literary classic.
Even when Katherine was grinding out psychology quizzes for a now-defunct teen magazine, some suspected that she had genuine talent and was capable of great things. And by “some,” I mean me, her husband.
I always knew the girl had it. Now the Newbery committee agrees, and that’s great. But I knew it first. Katherine is the mother of our children, my frequent writing partner, a babe in the fifty-and-over category, my sweetheart, the love of my life. And a pretty fair writer.