Katrina Kittle is an enthusiastic Dayton author and teacher who loves animals and writing books about human resilience.
Ever since Kittle was in school, she has surrounded herself with creative people. In fact, after her time at Ohio University, she received her master's in Fine Art at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky.
The OU grad now teaches anyone with an interest in literature in Dayton area. She works with writers of all levels to help develop their skills in the art of storytelling and creative writing. If you’re interested in taking classes taught by Kittle, she can primarily be found through the organization Word’s Worth Writing Center.
She also was one of the speakers at TEDxDayton 2015. After she returned from getting her master's, her reputation as a Dayton author gradually started budding. Now her books can be found “anywhere books are sold.” Kittle is the author of “Traveling Light” (2000), “Two Truths and a Lie” (2001),”The Kindness of Strangers” (2006) and “The Blessings of the Animals” (2010) and "Reasons to Be Happy (2011)."
Meet Katrina Kittle this week’s Daytonian of the Week.
What do you do in Dayton?
Kittle: I am a novelist. I write here in Dayton. I have five novels out in the world. I just finished a sixth one which was just sent from my literary agent and sent over to some trusted readers. In addition to writing, I also teach creative writing. I teach and tutor and coach a lot of different writers in the area. I teach a lot of classes to a group called “Word’s Worth.” Every time I teach any aspect of the craft of fiction, it makes me better at that myself. I think you are just continually learning the craft. It’s just like a dancer continuing to take dance classes every day throughout her career — it’s the same idea. I think it’s the closest thing a writer gets to that. They continue to take classes, and I continue to take them as often as I can as well. Writing is so solitary and so the idea of tapping into that great community — Dayton has a huge literary community, whether they are just people beginning or writers who are really far a long — and being with those kindred spirits is great.
Where can people get your work?
Kittle: You can get them anywhere that books are sold — that’s the Harper Collins motto. You can get them as ebooks as well as traditional books. If a bookstore does not have them in stock, they can order them. They can easily preorder from a bookstore if you happen to not find them on the shelves.
What have been your most recent published projects?
Kittle: My most recent book for adults is called “The Blessings of the Animals,” and it is a story of a veterinarian’s first year post divorce. She has the motley crew of rescue animals that sort of end up rescuing her. There are three main animals and they all sort of help her through lessons during that first year in that journey of finding yourself. It’s a great book for animal lovers, but it’s also an examination of marriage. It came out in 2010 and a lot has changed, but it has a same-sex marriage premise running through it as well. It’s not an attack or a defense of marriage; it really is just an examination of here is what it means and here is where we are at this point in American history. There are a lot of different milestones represented in different things throughout that book.
What are you working on now?
Kittle: That one also deals a lot with animals. The working title is “Strange Katy,” but I think that I'm going to change it — but that is the working title right now. This book is really about the struggle to be your authentic self and how so many of us have something that we are trying to hide from others. I think it’s about secrets and how the truth really wants to be known and as much as we might be embarrassed by the things that we hide from people, there is a huge part of us that wants to be known for being completely ourselves. There are a lot of different secrets being kept in that story. When all of the secrets start coming to life, it starts a chain reaction.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a writer?
Kittle: It was kind of later in life. I had already graduated from undergrad and was teaching high school theater and English at Centerville High School. A real particular thing was happening. I had lost a lot of people I loved to AIDS because I had been involved with dance and theater and I think those communities were hit really hard in the early days of AIDS. Here I am in the early '90s and my students would say really blood-chilling things about AIDS. They were really good people, but they were young and kind of unaware like most people were at that time in the early '90s. It just struck me that I could maybe write a story that put a human face on AIDS for people like my students. I have always been a reader. As an English major, I was always studying other people’s books. I had never really studied creative writing at that point — when I got this idea that I wanted to tell a story like that, but reading all the great books was really great training. I think my early days as a dancer and as an actress had me trained to know that there is a craft to learn and honor my apprenticeship and make sure I learned this craft and didn’t try to rush in. So, I spent about seven years working on that first book just because I really wanted to do it well and really learn what this craft was all about and what fiction was. I was not in a hurry to try to get something published. I wanted to make it a good book that I was proud of.
What do you love about Dayton?
Kittle: I love the arts community and that there is so much happening here. It cracks me up when people say, "Oh there is nothing to do here in Dayton." I just think they are not paying attention. Most weekends I have to make serious choices about what can I see because there are so many things to choose from you can’t possibly do it all. There’s great theater, there’s great dance, there are festivals — there’s so much happening here. So, I really love that.
What’s one thing you would like other people to know about Dayton?
Kittle: I think that there are things to do here, and all of the things to do here are pretty accessible and friendly. I would like to change the misconception that Dayton is this tiny town and that there is nothing to do here. The restaurants are amazing — there’s good food and plenty to do here.
Where’s your favorite place to eat in Dayton?
Kittle: My very favorite place to go to is El Meson; you can’t go wrong. I also love Wheat Penny and Kabuki in Centerville. Those are my top three.
Kittle: I am endlessly curious, a giant animal lover, and I am fascinated by human resilience. All of my books deal with resilience.