Represented by Tim Travaglini of the Transatlantic Agency


The Short & Sweet Version

K. L. B. Barsotti is a writer and artist based in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, in one of the city's oldest urban neighborhoods. Ms. Barsotti is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Sort of What Happened With Many Bits Left Out

Mom: "Kate, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Me, at most any age: "An artist."

"That's a hobby. You can't make money doing that."

Me, in the throes of a panic attack, left eye twitching: "Oh. Um. I guess I'll be a writer." (I said "lawyer," once, for about a month, and "librarian" until my great aunt scoffed and said I may as well be a police officer. She was a card, Aunt Maude was.)

I was born in California, spent a few years in South Carolina, then ended up in the Kansas City area, where I now reside downtown, in a community with a past, present, and future tied to immigrants and outcasts: Italians, Irish, Poles, Russian Jews, Vietnamese, African Americans, yuppies, homeless individuals, and an alarming number of artists and eccentrics. It's like a layer cake, each layer separate and touching the other. One long-time resident describe each block as a "separate world."

Perhaps each home is. And each mind.

Every move we made during my childhood carved its mark. I wonder about the places, friends, and mysteries left behind. I carry a sense of lost territory, especially for the forbidden woods behind our Clemson house and my initial stomping grounds in Kansas, where we first lived in a simpler, less affluent neighborhood and then upgraded to a richer area for better schools. It never felt right there, a new suburb next to soybean and corn fields, planned modernity gobbling up the countryside. The land beneath our feet was Indian land, their names remembered by streets and schools.

People had money and opportunity, but they had secrets, too.

My favorite book in all the world is Wigger, the only children's book written by William Goldman, who wrote The Princess Bride and many other works. It breaks all the "rules" of narrative we are taught today. Illustrated by the supremely gifted Errol LeCain, Wigger is the world I can disappear into as I did in childhood, forgetting myself, forgetting reality, sunk into the story of a girl dying of grief due to the loss of her sarcastic and worn pink blanket. People say the blanket is the main character, and it's probably true, but I think love may be the protagonist. It's hilarious when you aren't weeping.

I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands.
— Louise Bourgeois
I still remember a drawing of an olive tree. The lines moved gracefully across the paper, expressive and harmonious. As the olive tree emerged, those lines moving over the paper hypnotized me. Now I know why: The mystery of the language of drawing had instilled itself in me and I intuitively perceived that energy, that magic spell.
— Antonio Lopez-Garcia

 Wigger by William Goldman, my favorite book from childhood and Goldman's only children's book

Wigger by William Goldman, my favorite book from childhood and Goldman's only children's book

When I draw, it means that something is troubling me, but I don’t know what. So it’s a way of treating anxiety. It’s the transfer of worry to fear. It’s the conversion, for example, of the fear of danger that I experienced at dinner. It was dangerous for me not to understand what people were saying because they were smarter than me. Anxiety is undefined, but when you draw, you suddenly see what you’re afraid of. It’s a conversion. This is very important. Drawings help me identify and define a worry, and then transform it at least into a fear. When you’re afraid, you can do something about it.
— Louise Bourgeois
“A farm is a peculiar problem for a man who likes animals, because the fate of most livestock is that they are murdered by their benefactors. The creatures may live serenely but they end violently, and the odor of doom hangs about them always. I have kept several pigs, starting them in spring as weanlings and carrying trays to them all through summer and fall. The relationship bothered me. Day by day I became better acquainted with my pig, and he with me, and the fact that the whole adventure pointed toward an eventual piece of double-dealing on my part lent an eerie quality to the thing. I do not like to betray a person or a creature, and I tend to agree with Mr. E.M. Forster that in these times the duty of a man, above all else, is to be reliable. It used to be clear to me, slopping a pig, that as far as the pig was concerned I could not be counted on, and this, as I say, troubled me. Anyway, the theme of “Charlotte’s Web” is that a pig shall be saved, and I have an idea that somewhere deep inside me there was a wish to that effect.”
— E.B. White