Winning a writing contest in the fourth grade is what set a Pasco High School graduate on the path to become an author.
Jennifer Hotes’ story about a raccoon earned her a trip to Columbia Basin College for a day of workshops with published authors. Being around accomplished writers, she said, gave her the first inkling that she could really be a writer.
“I thought ‘I could just go to college right now,’ ” Hotes recalled thinking at the time.
Now the Seattle-based author hopes to similarly inspire students when she visits several Pasco schools and River View High School in Finley beginning April 18 while in town to participate with a young adult author panel for the Mid-Columbia Libraries and the annual Mid-Columbia LitFest.
While she didn’t become an active author until years after leaving Pasco and becoming a mother, she knows that first impression as a child set the stage for her.
“This isn’t a giant goal that is unattainable,” she said.
This isn’t a giant goal that is unattainable.
Jennifer Hotes, author
Hotes, who graduated from Pasco High in 1988, moved to the Tri-Cities as a kindergartner with her brother and mother, Sue Feeney. Feeney is a retired educator who worked as an administrator in the Pasco School District before serving as the Finley School District superintendent.
Among Hotes’ best known books is the Stone Witch series, which detail the adventures of some kids who try to uncover the stories behind some graves in a nearby cemetery.
Those stories are inspired by Hotes’ childhood when her babysitter was the daughter of the groundskeeper of Pasco’s City View Cemetery.
“She’d offer to play hide and seek with us in the cemetery,” Hotes recalled. “We’d just sit there terrified waiting for our mom.”
Despite always having a “spooky mind” and an itch to write, Hotes said it wasn’t until her own children encouraged her to start writing down her ideas that her career took off. She’s also a children’s book illustrator.
My handwriting is terrible. I’m a terrible speller. You just have to have an idea and write it down.
Jennifer Hotes, author
Peggy Layman, librarian at River View and Finley Middle School, said she began talking to Hotes last fall about making an author visit to the district. But Hotes won’t just talk about writing, Layman said, but also how the writing process mimics life.
“Of course you hope to have a book at the end, but you take all different turns and directions to get there,” Layman said.
Hotes said she plans to show all the students she meets with the notebooks she uses to write her first drafts.
“My handwriting is terrible. I’m a terrible speller,” she said, adding that she’s learned to not let that stop her. “You just have to have an idea and write it down.”
Young Adult Author Panel
When: 7 p.m. April 19
Where: Kennewick branch of Mid-Columbia Libraries, 1620 S. Union St.
What: Three authors — Jennifer Hotes, A.L. Sonnichsen and Terry Trueman — will discuss their craft.