Book Notes: An Interview with Kathryn Whitaker, author of "Live Big, Love Bigger"

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I’ve only been to Texas once, but I loved every second of it (minus the fire ants) and I can’t wait to go back. Hopefully next time I can visit one of my new favorite authors, Kathryn Whitaker. Her new book, with a publication date of August 30, 2019, Live Big, Love Bigger: Getting Real with BBQ, Sweet Tea, and a Whole Lotta Jesus took me back to those memories of my Texas trip and now I need to go back soon.

Live Big, Love Bigger by Kathryn Whitaker was truly a refreshing read. As a mom of little ones, it was wonderful to read and relate to the aspects of her life. It isn’t easy to be a mom of a large family, but reading Kathryn’s book, which was so honest and beautiful, brought the vocation into a different light. Kathryn wrote about her experiences as a growing family, her spiritual life, and her experiences as a new Catholic, in conjunction with BBQ, family trips, sweet tea, church tours, and of course, Dr. Pepper.

I’m so grateful for women who put themselves in the forefront and offer a rare and raw manuscript of their life as a big Catholic family. After following Kathryn’s blog and social media for many years, her book is such a wonderful addition. I hope that every woman reads this book! There are so many lessons that address common problems experienced by all women. We truly are all in this together. Family life was never meant to be lived on an island and Kathryn beautifully discusses this during some of their most difficult times.

Live Big Love Bigger by Kathryn Whitaker (Ave Maria Press)

Thank you, Kathryn, for writing such a fantastic book! I can’t wait to purchase copies and give them to all my friends as gifts! It was my pleasure to interview Kathryn about this book.

Who or what was the biggest inspiration during the process of writing Live Big, Love Bigger?

Luke, our preemie, was obviously the impetus for the book. As I wrote each chapter, though, I envisioned different people from my life sitting across the table. I wanted my book to feel personal, because it is, so it helped to have a face to focus on as I shared my heart.

How did you come up with the title, Live Big, Love Bigger?

The title was actually something the publisher came up with, one of the many things I learned about when writing a book! They did, however, use my tagline for the book, “getting real with BBQ, sweet tea, and a whole lotta Jesus” which made it a team effort. As a Texan, I sure felt like Ave Maria Press captured my personality and really nailed it.

Which chapter was the most exciting to write and which was the most difficult to write?

I lovingly refer to it as the “BBQ chapter.” That was, by far, the easiest to write as I shared how our family found its intention and purpose. It wasn’t the easiest to live through, but those words sure poured out almost faster than I could type them. I think there were parts of other chapters that were hard to write, not because of writer’s block, but because I wanted to be sure I was sharing the story God wanted me to.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book, besides the time constraints of having a large family?

There were two: keeping my eyes on my own paper and sticking to my story. The game of comparison in author world is strong. Honestly, during writing, I stopped reading all books so that I could fully focus on the message I was charged with sharing. And, I chose to only let a handful of people know I was even writing so I could minimize distractions. Sharing stories always involves other people, so there were several times I had to go back and edit my words to ensure the story was from my perspective. Some just weren’t my stories to tell.

What is your absolutely favorite book written by a Catholic mom? What is your favorite secular book?

My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell. Colleen is a gifted storyteller and has a brilliant mind. Her ability to weave saints, some modern-day, some ancient, into her present-day life was a thing of art to read. I’m not a fan of flowery storytelling or over-simplified faith in Jesus. Colleen’s book was truthful, candid and well done. It remains one of my all-time favorites.

My favorite secular book is a little harder – I’m a massive fan of true crime books and I also love a good self-help book. In that regard, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and Everybody Always by Bob Goff were just revelational for me. On a technique level, I sure enjoyed Stephen King’s On Writing. It was fascinating to read his memoir at the beginning and his almost ‘how-to’ guide at the end. Thriller and sci-fi books aren’t my thing, but his honesty put me in the right frame of mind to tackle my own book.

Who is your favorite saint? And what is your favorite liturgical Catholic feast day?

It’s a tie between St. Therese and St. Catherine of Siena. I’ve visited both of their hometowns and places of burial. St. Therese’s reminder that our love is in the little things and St. Catherine’s spunk and tenacity have both been great examples for me as I live out my own vocation. As a convert, liturgical feast days are still relatively new to me. While I have a great respect and admiration for the many feast days on the church calendar, the only one we really go all out and celebrate is the Feast of St. Nicholas. I absolutely love his example of generosity.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Growing up Texan, I am a fan of the Hank the Cowdog books, written by a family friend, John R. Erickson.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Not really. When I’m up against a deadline, I find that writing late at night, when the house is quiet and all my chicks are in the nest is when I write best.

What advice would you give younger moms who are in the trenches with numerous little children?

Stay the course and remember that what you’re doing – all those little things – they matter. In an age of social media, we hold up every aspect of our life to the microscope of a 5×5 square and deem ourselves worthy, or unworthy, on that illusion of perfection. Don’t do that. Find your tribe of mothers in the trenches with you to bolster support and then find a mom just a few years ahead of you for inspiration. We don’t mother alone. Never forget that.

What saint or devotion has helped you the most during the difficult moments of motherhood?

Come Holy Spirit. That’s it. I say it often. I say it when I’m about to sell my kids on Etsy. I say it when my toddler has an accident. I say it when a friend says something that cuts deep. I say it when in traffic on I-35 in Austin. And then I blast Matt Maher or George Strait and move on about my day. If we wallow in the hardness of the season, then we never learn from it.

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Copyright 2019 Danielle Heckenkamp

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About Author

Danielle Marie Heckenkamp is a stay at home mom and freelance writer who lives in the beautiful state of Wisconsin with her husband and children. Danielle is the co-author of a nonfiction book about manners and common sense - you can assume there is a second book "in progress". Danielle is a coffee-drinking, Midwest girl, who loves to spend time with her family, attempt outlandish recipes, and read any book she can get her hands on. You can find more of Danielle's writing at Loving These Days or step inside her daily life at her instagram account (@dmheckenkamp)

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