National conference invites local author and Newman alumna Clare Vanderpool to speak

Clare Vanderpool

Newman alumna and award-winning local author Clare Vanderpool will be among the speakers at KidLitCon 2016, which will be held Oct. 14 and 15 at the Drury Inn Broadview Hotel in Wichita.

KidLitCon is a national conference presented by KidLitosphere Central, an organization for bloggers, writers, publishers, teachers and others involved in children’s and young adult literature. The conference is held in different selected cities each year.

Vanderpool, a 1987 Kansas Newman College graduate, received the 2011 Newbery Award for her first published book, Moon Over Manifest. She is also the author of Navigating Early.

Vanderpool is no stranger to speaking in public. Her years as a published author have given her many opportunities to share her passion. Since the conference is being held in Wichita this year, it worked out well for Vanderpool to attend and speak. She said she plans to "talk about the approach of writing and storytelling and finding that sweet spot between craft and creativity."

The focus of the conference organizers is to reach an audience of writers of children's and young adult literature, but is open to all writers and book lovers. While Vanderpool's books are marketed as middle grade (readers age 8-12 years), she believes her books span a much broader range.

"Navigating Early was listed in the Wichita Business Journal as great reading for ages 9-90 years," said Vanderpool. "I don’t really write so much for any particular age group and I don’t really make decisions based on readership, or change the story based on appealing to the younger reader."

Vanderpool said Moon Over Manifest took her about six years to complete. She received news that the book would be published in October 2010 and just three months later she learned it would win the 2011 Newbery Award.

"It's not the first book I've actually written. The first book I wrote is called The Book in the Drawer because that's still where it is," explained Vanderpool. "After getting so many rejections, I reached a point where I had to decide if this is something I really wanted to do. I decided to try again."

Her efforts have paid off. She now has two published books and is currently working on a third. Vanderpool said her desire to write started early in her life.

"In the fourth or fifth grade, I said I wanted to be an author," she said. "That little dream started way back when."

Clare Vanderpool at Newman University

Clare (Sander) Vanderpool during her time as a student at Newman.

Vanderpool has many good memories from her time as a student at Newman. She spent a lot of her time in her dorm, which she says felt like a campus club of its own. She also spent a lot of time in the youth ministry office. She remembers the good times in her dorm, all the "crazy antics going on" and also has fond memories of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) sisters on campus.

Vanderpool said she is looking forward to speaking at KidLitCon on Oct. 15 and agrees that it's important for children to build their reading skills. "In terms of promoting literacy, the biggest thing that is a draw to encourage kids to read is a good story," she said. "I still remember with my oldest son, he was an off-and-on reader. But in third grade, he got sucked into this book for about three days. It was the first time he’d had that experience. He said he forgot he was reading."

Clare with her family

Vanderpool with her family (l-r) son Paul, daughters Lucy and Grace, husband Mark and son Luke.

Her children are now ages 22, 20, 18 and 16. Growing as an author with young children gave them a lot to talk about, Vanderpool said.

"My children always inspire me and I have always been connected to them. They all love reading and my oldest son is very interested in writing, so there's a special connection there as well," she said. "I've had a lot of invitations to speak around the country and we have gotten to do so many fun things as a family with travel because of that."

For more information on KidLitCon 2016, visit the event Web site.

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