Today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author/illustrator is Kristen Applebee. I was so charmed by the post she wrote that I decided to forgive her for attending Ohio State (given that I am a Wolverine). ūüôā ¬†In all seriousness, she is a talented and forward-thinking illustrator and art teacher, and I’m glad she’s bringing her considerable skills to the world of kidlit to benefit children. Please welcome Kristen!

Walls Can Talk

Want a story? Look around your living room, community swimming pool, or grocery store parking lot. The things you see are offering you their stories. Go ahead.Take one.

During my second year as a graduate student, The Ohio State University printmaking department was scheduled to move to a different building. Many art students were angry that their work was disrupted and began having meetings about how they could convince administrators to wait until summer.

I came late to one of these meetings; in fact, the meeting had ended and room was empty. After a moment alone, I began to I feel something in that room. Maybe it was little bits of frustration lingering in the air. I looked at how the chairs were arranged and could imagine who had been sitting in each seat. I could practically see dialogue bubbles hanging over the empty chairs and hear tense voices. Something had happened. I had missed it, but the story was still being told in the objects left behind.

I spent the following days and months thinking about how the things in my immediate environment were telling me stories. I noticed smudged windows, dusty bookshelves, and worn upholstery. There were stories there. I thought about my quilts. They were made from clothes. The clothes had been worn by someone while riding bike in the rain, while writing letters home, while experiencing a first kiss. There were stories there. Stop wishing chairs, or quilts, or walls could talk. If start listening more carefully and you may find that they already do.

Kristen Applebee earned a BFA from Brigham Young University and an MFA from the Ohio State University. She also has an Early Childhood Educator’s Certificate from Wesleyan College. She taught art there for almost a decade and is currently teaching at Georgia Military College. Kristen loves her regional chapter of SCBWI (Southern Breeze) where she won the Liz Conrad Memorial Scholarship for Illustration in 2010 and 2nd Place in the Illustrated Fiction/Non-fiction category for her manuscript BANJO DAN AND THE PORK BELLY JUG BAND in 2011. Her interactive ebook THE BODY LANGUAGE OF VERONICA SUE, published by My Black Dog Books, is available for ipad, iphones and ipod touch. Kristen lives with her husband and three children in Macon, Georgia.


Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Apps, Authors, Digital Publishing, Picture Books, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , ,



  1. That’s what I love about Still Life–it always suggests of story of the people who just left the room or are about to reenter. Thank you for a thought-provoking post.

    Sallie Wolf

  2. Kristen,
    I loved this! What a great Tuesday post. Thank you for the perspective today.

  3. What an excellent post. It truly made me reflect. I have a lot of things here on the farm that are trying to tell me stories. I am going to listen with my whole heart! Thanks ladies! *Waves*

  4. nice post to ‘listen’ to, again and again…

  5. Thanks for the inspiration. Loved the book trailer! Really cute.

  6. Lovely, inspiring post! Thank you ūüôā

  7. I love this! Especially the image of the quilt…. listening to the stories of the shirts and dresses and first loves. Today I went on a “listening walk” and listened to bees in the wild roses, and barks, and the distant sound of a backhoe…. which I saw (when I reached that house) was doing work for a new garage.

  8. Kristen, I enjoyed reading your post. I’ll be your friend — I graduated from Ohio State University, School of Journalism. Funny, when I was there in the early 70s, we were moved out of the Journalism building and moved across campus and the builidng was finished after I graduated. But, you reminded me of what I learned as a reporter and it served me well – being observant when I was reporting on an event. I remember a professor drilling me after I’d just interviewed the mayor about how he was dressed and how many American Flag pins dorned his tie and lapel. She opened my eyes. Now that I’m writing new genre, I haven’t thought so keenly in those terms. Thanks — the was a great kick in the pants. I think of it in terms of writing, but not in terms of story ideas, I guess.

    Sorry Julie, just have to do it — Go Bucks! Nice interview.

  9. Thanks for a post that makes me stop & think, Kristen. You’re so right– so many stories in the things around us.

  10. Great post! I will remember to look for things that can tell me a story ūüėČ

  11. Brilliant! Thank you for including the links to her website and iBook. When I clicked on the orange “Kristen Applebee” I saw her charming illustrations for children’s books … but I was thrilled to see the tab for MFA Works that include some of her chair prints (inspired by this experience, no doubt). Her range of style and genre are more than impressive, they are breathtaking!

  12. What a beautiful testament to the power of observation. You are right…stories are all around us.

  13. Wonderful imagery, Kristen. I loved the quilt analogy–my granddaughters love to sit with me on the quilt my grandma made for me and they ask me to “talk the quilt.” That means tell them a story about my grandma. Thank you for helping us listening to the inanimate.

  14. This was a sense-stimulating, thought-provoking post. Thank you. Now I have to pay even better attention to what’s around me.

  15. Thanks so much for the comments. I think we all need to be reminded every now and then to stop and notice. Sure wish I had noticed that “If” that begins the last sentence, and deleted it. Whoops!

  16. Very true Kristen. Thanks for sharing this today. I’ve been rushing around and needed the reminder to stop and notice. Nice to see another 12x person in Georgia. (I’m a native, but living in Colorado).

  17. Kristen, great reminder. Stories all around…I just came in from outside (at 12:30 am) after I remembered I left something valuable in my kayak for the last 4 days, which could have been ‘found’ by someone wandering by. I happened to think, “hmmmm….a story starter.” Then I come in and read your post! Your reminder to listen is timely for me. Thanks – Damon Dean

  18. Inspiring post, Kristin. Thanks for sharing. I’ll now start paying attention to the walls!

  19. Love this post, Julie and Kristin. I’m going to look at smudges on walls and little fingerprints in odd places in a very different way today. Can’t wait to see where those observations take me!

  20. You are right, Kristen…if we look hard enough, there is a story in everything we see. It just takes patience and a bit of mulling over…thanks!

  21. I’m not sure how I missed this, but lovely post! Also waving as a fellow BYU alumni.

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