Kathie Lee Gifford can now add children’s author to her resumé: her new book, Party Animals — based on a song she wrote for a children’s album nine years ago – teaches kids the importance of accepting each other. She recently spoke with EW about what she’s reading, what it’s like to balance writing with being a television personality, and how she deals with her “problem child.”
On her new book Party Animals (out April 13):
It’s meant for quite young children…I’m thrilled with the illustrations. It’s adorable. I haven’t even met the illustrator [Peter Bay Alexandersen]. He’s a Danish gentleman, and the whole process was done via FedEx. We just sent him the lyrics and our concept for it, and back and forth the packets would come with his sketches first and his layouts. It was a fun process, mostly because my work was done nine years ago!
On writing for children:
I think just because you’re a celebrity doesn’t mean you know how to write a book, even a book for children. You have to be child like yourself in a way and you can share morals with them without being preachy. Even little kids don’t like to be preached at. It absolutely has to be enveloped in a sense of fun and wonder.
What else she’s working on:
I’ve been working on a novel for about 10 years. I hope to bring one of my musicals to Broadway next year. I’ve been writing that for 12 years. These things take a long time to get right. It’s called Saving Aimee, and it’s based on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson, an extraordinary woman who lived in the 1920s and ’30s. That’s my major focus the next year, besides doing the Today show, which is a full-time job. I have never, ever had such a challenge in my life as writing this, except for I guess marriage and child-rearing. I say I have three children — Cody, who’s 20, Cassidy, who’s going to be 17, and Aimee, my problem child, she’s 12.
When she finds time to write:
I write in my dressing room, the car, sitting in a restaurant waiting for a friend. I write a lot in the middle of the night, write in the morning. I was writing for Saving Aimee this morning; I had a thought and rushed downstairs. It keeps all your juices flowing, your creative nerves always crackling. It gives you a purpose for each day.
What she’s reading:
There’s so much I have to read for the show. I’m almost finished with The Walk by Richard Paul Evans. I read a book over spring break and fell in love with it, so did [co-host] Hoda [Kotb], it’s Mitch Albom’s book, Have a Little Faith. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I just started a new book called A Lineage of Grace, by a woman named Francine Rivers, that I’m enjoying very much. It’s a novel, fiction, but it’s biblical fiction. It takes five women from the Bible and writes a fictional account of what their lives would have been like, based on what we know from scripture. Really, really interesting. I just finished Carol Burnett’s book, This Time Together. I laughed through the whole thing. I took over for Carol when she did Broadway, Putting It Together. I have a real history with Carol and I just adore her.