Literary Arts – Young Adult Fiction
A native of Massachusetts based in Minneapolis, Kate Allen is the author of “The Line Tender,” published by Penguin Random House in 2019. This funny, poignant, and deeply moving novel for young adults is a story of nature’s enduring mystery and a girl determined to find meaning and connection within it. “The Line Tender” was a national bestseller, earned seven starred reviews, appeared on numerous “best of” 2019 lists, and received a Minnesota Book Award earlier this year.
In her writing, Kate strives to make a connection between art and science, because she believes there’s a natural link between the two. For Kate, both artists and scientists are keen observers of the natural world, and they share a wonder and joy in figuring out how things work. Concerned about the state of the environment, Kate also aims to use her writing to help young readers recognize the interconnectedness and importance of biological diversity on Earth.
Kate’s goal while in residence at the Anderson Center was to make significant progress revising and strengthening the manuscript for her second young-adult novel. Additional time was devoted to research for the novel. Kate collected many books and articles on topics such as honeybees/beekeeping, biomimicry, divorce, masculinity, and the challenge of African American genealogical research given that it’s difficult to find records of slave ancestors prior to emancipation. For two summers, Kate worked with a beekeeper/retired science teacher to tend several hives. She had transposed all of her notes from a field journal and was excited to weave some of that information into her story in ways that are engaging to middle schoolers.
On October 28, author Kate virtually visited Molly Sutton Kiefer’s Honors sophomores at Red Wing High School. She talked with students about scientific research and writing practices, which tied into the class’s current read of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and their science and ethics research essay. Kate’s first book, “The Line Tender,” began with a strange event that happened in her hometown when she was nineteen – a fisherman dragged in a great white shark (which was rare at the time). Her presentation to the students walked them through her research process for the novel – from tracking down the fisherman, to interviewing the biologist who dissected the shark, to talking with all sorts of experts to learn about the things that she initially knew nothing about.
After Kate’s virtual classroom visit, Molly shared that, “I tried really hard not to squeal with joy the whole time. Thank you so, so much. In a year of hard things, this was a serious highlight for my students.”