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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

Kelly (K.L.) Going

Rising Author Calls
Glen Spey Home

By Jeanne Sager
GLEN SPEY — April 7, 2006 – There’s an entire section of Kelly (K.L.) Going’s Web-site devoted to “very cool” people.
It’s incomplete.
Maybe she’s waiting for a slow month, but one of Glen Spey’s newest residents has yet to list herself.
She’s got the qualifications – after all, this month’s cool person, a kid named Miranda Bridgewater, reads books . . . lots and lots of them.
Going used to be an assistant at a literary agency.
She read books of every shape, color and genre.
“You just don’t work 40 hours a week in the publishing industry,” she explained. “You work 50.”
Bridgewater likes going on vacation where she paws through the wares at used bookstores.
Going likes to travel – she’s lived in Maine, Louisiana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and New York City.
And Bridgewater loved reading “The Liberation of Gabriel King.”
So did Going; in fact, she wrote it.
Yes, the newlywed who just bought a home in Glen Spey is an accomplished author.
She left her job at the prestigious Curtis Brown literary agency a year after “Fat Kid Rules the World” hit bookshelves nationwide.
The book, written for teens, features Troy Billings, a teenager who is 6’1” and 296 pounds – the so-called “fat kid.”
Billings gets recruited to play drums in a band.
“There’s one problem,” Going said. “He doesn’t know how to play drums!”
Billings learns quickly, and the book caught on quickly with readers.
The American Library Association named Going’s first book one of its Michael L. Printz Honor books for 2004 (ironically, another Printz honor book for 2004 was written by Callicoon resident Jennifer Connelly).
“It’s a new award, but it’s the [young adult] equivalent of the Newberry or Caldecott,” Going explained. “It really helped to launch my publishing career.”
A year later, “The Liberation of Gabriel King” was released.
A mid-grade novel, Liberation explores a young boy’s fears during the summer of 1976 in a hot Georgia town.
“I’d been thinking about fear and the fact that we all have a lot of fears,” she explained. “Sometimes they can be really big, and sometimes they can be really small and funny, but they seem really big to you.
“I wrote the entire thing in a spiral notebook by hand because I was writing on the train,” Going recalled.
She’d put it away, not expecting to submit it to a publishing house for some time.
But after the success of Fat Kid, Going pulled it back out and sent it along to her editor at Penguin/Putnam.
It’s done equally well in bookstores, earning a nod as the summer Booksense pick by the Association of Independent Booksellers.
And it’s helped Going make the transition from working full-time and writing on the side to full-time writer.
She spends mornings at her home in Glen Spey working on her novels.
“I have to run right downstairs and start writing because I don’t want to lose that writing time,” she explained.
She still does freelance editing – despite the grind of the publishing industry, Going truly loved the work.
To let her talents go to waste doesn’t make sense, she said, so she edits manuscripts.
And she offers a chance for kids to reach out to her on her Website for help with their writing.
Going has long had an interest in children’s literature and writing.
Her father, William Going, still has her first poem, the story of an owl, posted on his bulletin board.
Going was in the first grade in the Wallkill Central School District when she wrote it.
As a child, she said she dreamed of joining the Peace Corps.
But she wrote her first novel during her senior year at Wallkill High School, a piece of fantasy fiction.
She’d worked her way through Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, read through Lloyd Alexander and she was looking for more good fantasies.
“I’d gotten bored with what I read,” she recalled.
Going said her job at the literary agency sort of fell into her lap.
“I didn’t go there specifically thinking, ‘Now I can get my stuff published,’” she recalled.
Going was actually working the front desk at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, and she liked her job.
But a friend whose father worked for Curtis Brown suggested she apply at the agency.
He knew she liked literature, and he saw Going and the job as a perfect fit.
When she finally made the decision to begin submitting her work to publishing houses, her position made the task much easier.
“I think Fat Kid would have sold anyway,” Going said. “But it helped speed up the process.
“Normally, to submit to agents is a looooong process,” she explained. “You have to send out query letters.”
Once an author finally finds an agent, that agent still has to convince a publishing house that this book will sell.
Fortunately, Going was able to walk right into the office of one of her bosses, Ginger, and pitch her work.
It was a big risk.
“If she didn’t like it, it would have changed our whole working dynamic,” Going recalled.
But Ginger saw gold in Going.
She eventually helped broker the deal with Penguin/Putnam that resulted in the publication of both Fat Kid and Liberation.
Going has used the experience she gained at Curtis Brown in her writing as well.
“When you work in publishing, you read everything,” she explained. “I think that makes me a better writer . . . it teaches you not to be a writing snob.”
She’s found writing for children and young adults is her niche.
“Everyone always says, ‘You have to find your voice,’” she noted. “It was one of those things . . . as soon as I hit upon that genre, I knew it was right and right for me.
“I think you can explore things for kids and teens that you can’t necessarily explore when you’re writing for adults,” Going explained. “You can’t be self-indulgent . . . kids don’t have the same attention span, so you can’t go off on tangents.
“You have to choose your words,” Going said. “You have to choose the best words.”
She takes inspiration from feelings – Liberation was a study of Gabriel King’s fears, Fat Kid of Troy Billings’ life as a fat kid in a skinny world.
Going devotes much of her Web-site to giving kids a voice in the world.
She just started a forum open to any age group where kids can feel comfortable talking about books, movies . . . basically anything, she said.
“It’s a unique opportunity to have intergenerational chatting going on,” she said.
Just recently, a 10-year-old boy posted a problem he’s had with writer’s block.
When his teacher gives him a prompt, he just doesn’t know what to write.
Going’s proud to say the boy got an answer from another published author – and the back-and-forth has been “wonderful.”
Going’s new husband, Dustin Adams, has been helping her revamp the Website.
The couple was married in February. He works in Port Jervis and has family in the Sullivan County area, Going said, so their new home is perfectly situated.
“We wanted a couple things – we wanted something close to Port Jervis, but we wanted something a little more rural.”
Since moving in, Going has expanded her offer to make presentations for schools, libraries and civic groups to anywhere in the county.
Tuesday she spoke with fourth and fifth graders at the Duggan Elementary School in White Lake – days after they’d finished up Liberation.
That afternoon, Going went home and found an e-mail waiting for her from a little girl who’d seen her that morning.
And for her, that’s the best part – allowing kids to express themselves.
K.L. Going’s next book, a novel for teens, “Saint Iggy,” will be in bookstores in October.
She’s currently working on another mid-grade novel and a picture book.
For more information, visit

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