The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California
Kate Crane

Courtesy Kate Crane

Kate Crane

March 7, 2020

Journalist Kate Crane has written for Dow Jones, Time Out New York and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. She is currently writing a memoir called, “What Happened to Eddy Crane?” about her father’s murder and her struggle to come to terms with it.

Q: Who/what inspired you to become a writer?

A: I knew I wanted to write stories by the time I was five. I wrote fairy tales about my grandfather’s garden (in a notebook) and a teen love story (on a blue typewriter that I still own). But I didn’t think that I was good enough until Paul Barker, my high school AP English teacher, held up my work once in front of our class. His encouragement changed my life.

Q: How has writing and being part of this community impacted you?

A: In my New York life, I was attached to both the city itself and my communities, plural. In the Bay Area, I‘m deeply attached to the open space preserves that surround us, and I feel more isolated, but it’s the place where I sold my book. In some ways, I feel more alive as a writer than I did in New York. I don’t think I fully understand yet the ongoing ways in which California shapes me.

Q: What was the greatest challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

A: In 2016, my best friend died in a car crash while I was working at an extremely demanding startup and writing chapters for my book proposal. The next six months were a blur. In order to survive, I had to believe in God and my adoptive dad. I walked countless miles in open spaces and writing one sentence at a time. 

Q: Who is your favorite writer at the moment and why?

A: Damon Young and Alexander Chee. Damon is one of the funniest writers in America, and he brings humor to darkness in a way that is imperative and very difficult to pull off. Alexander is the finest imaginable prose writer. The beauty of his essays…Just go read one.

Q: What do you hope to bring to the Los Altos community by participating in Writer’s Week?

A: I would like everyone to know that if they want to write, they can write. Commitment matters as much—if not far more—than raw talent. Beyond that, I hope to encourage students to follow their own path. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s to be worthwhile. 

Q: If you could recommend one book to Los Altos students, what would it be?

A: “The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison. This phenomenal 1952 novel telegraphs the depths and complexities of blackness in America. It is an essential read.

Q: What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?

A: Jim Knipfel, an author best known for “Slackjaw,” says it’s possible to write 500 words on absolutely anything. This has been a key, countless times, to unlock my stuck mind.

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