Kate Schatz is a feminist writer, activist, and educator. She is the author of the new book Rad Girls Can, as well as the New York Times best sellers Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, and the accompanying journal, My Rad Life. Kate is the co-founder of Solidarity Sundays, a nationwide network of feminist activist groups, and she speaks often about politics, resistance, feminism, race, parenting, and more.
Describe a typical day for you?
I work for myself and make my own schedule, which is thrilling and also challenging—it means I don’t necessarily have a ‘typical’ day. I’m about to head out on book tour, so my coming days will not be typical at all! But when I’m not doing a lot of travelling, a typical day involves getting woken up by my kiddos around 7; getting them fed and dressed and out the door to school. If I don’t have meetings with my publisher or speaking engagements I head into my office, which I share with a number of other incredible Bay Area writers. I catch up on the insane news of the day, and usually spend some time processing politics, checking on what other resistance/activist organisations are talking about, and then writing up and sharing concrete actions that my Solidarity Sundays community can take to resist our current corrupt despicable white supremacist administration. Then I get to work on my own writing—editing a novel, working on new children’s books and future books in the Rad series, and doing all the business correspondence that inevitably needs to happen. I try to get to power yoga at noon, and usually pick my kids up by 3. From there it’s Mom Stuff: we hang out, run around, make dinner, bath, sleep. I love catching up with friends over dinner and drinks, but I also value my mellow home time with the family, so I try to keep that in check. Since it’s summer right now that’s all pretty stretched out…sometimes there’s an outdoor movie, or a long evening walk. Then after the kids are asleep my husband and I land on the couch to catch up, drink wine, and watch some good tv.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Bringing my son and daughter into this world and being there, alongside my partner Jason, to facilitate their growth into intelligent, curious, compassionate, silly, loving humans is my #1 achievement. Professionally, I am deeply proud to have found creative and financial success doing something that I truly love, and that has clear and lasting social impact on readers around the world. The Rad Women series is a remarkable coming-together of strands of my life that I’ve always been passionate about—activism, feminism, education, history, children’s books. I figured out a way to weave it all together, and I get to do it with the world’s best collaborative partner, Miriam Klein Stahl. Pretty great achievement right there!
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
I’m not much of a handbag person—I go more for big oversize canvas totebags that I get from my favorite bookstores, and that I routinely stuff chockfull of books, notebooks, kid snacks, crayons, pens, sunglasses, crumpled receipts from traveling, business cards from rad people I meet on the road, and, thanks to my son, many tiny Legos that I pick up daily from the floor. My friends laugh at me for not really having a nice ‘lady purse’ and I keep trying to buy one but they’re just so expensive and silly and I don’t do leather. So, sloppy canvas totes it is!
What are your ambitions in life?
To continue to live a life of integrity, creativity, compassion, love, and action that is rooted in feminist anti-racist practice and ideology; to leverage my platform, access, and myriad privileges to inspire, lift up others, open doors, and create change. To have fun adventures with my husband and kids; to stay close to and supportive of my parents and sister; to be strong, flexible, and in good healthy shape for a really long, long time; and to keep writing books that I believe in.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
That I really do not need to be concerned with the opinions and/or approval of Important White Literary Men. To be clear: I love and admire many Important White Literary Men, and have learned a great deal from some of them, but I’ve also learned that their assessment of my work is not, in fact, the end-all-and-be-all. They will not always get me or what I’m into or about and that is OK. I also wish I’d known more about self-promotion: how to put myself out there, advocate for my work, connect with booksellers and librarians, connect with media, etc. I published my first book of fiction, Rid of Me: A Story, when I was 27, and though I wasn’t 100% clueless about the literary world, I’ve learned a lot in the years since then.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully writing a book about the end of the Trump era and what it means for us to finally have our first female President. Also helping my daughter navigate high school and my son navigate middle school. Eeek!
What advice would you give a budding author?
Keep budding, keep growing! Find a writing community to share your work with, who can give you feedback and deadlines and support and attention. This might be one or two friends from school, or a group of mom friends, or an online community. Find literary events in your community and show up. Support other authors, get to know them, make creative connections. And, the most important advice of all: JUST WRITE IT. Whatever it is, before ANY of the other advice can mean anything, you just. Have. To. Start. Writing. Do not pass GO until you have started writing—doesn’t have to be perfect, and no one has to see your messy scribbled drafts—but you have to get going, and start somewhere.
What advice would you give a new parent if applicable?
I’m tempted to say, ‘Do not listen to any advice unless you’ve asked for it’ which I do think is solid advice, but since you asked, I’ll share the advice that my husband and I tend to dole out to new parents: ‘It’s probably normal’. Simple, but true, and very helpful in those freak-out moments where you’re panicking because your baby is coughing or crying or seems to have a rash or a bug bite or seems too sleepy or isn’t sleepy enough…Look, things can and do go wrong, but most of the time, whatever is happening is probably just normal. That has helped me a lot.
Finally, happiness is…
Whatever you want it to be.