Kicking Back with Kick-butt, Kathie MacIsaac, and Colleen Nelson!

It’s time to Kick Back with Kick-butt!

Today we’re chatting with Kathie MacIsaac and Collen Nelson, the authors of


There is no single path to the job of your dreams. What does it take to become a stuntperson? How does a
mathematician spend her days? When does a barber become the center of a community?

In this refreshing take on a careers book, meet twenty-five individuals of different backgrounds, genders, and abilities who have found their careers through a wide range of experience, education, intention, and inspiration.

From Joshua Jones, who built a business where he could thrive as a Deaf interior designer, to Teresa Tam, whose hunger for knowledge led her to the position of Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, each of these dreamers found ways to dig deep into their passion, to gain experience and knowledge, and to turn that into a job.

Let’s talk to these outstanding authors about their phenomenal book!
This is Kathie and Colleen. Everyone say, “Hi, Kathie and Colleen!”

Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Kathie and Colleen! Tell us about yourselves!

Kathie: Hi Casey, and thanks so much for having us! 

I’m Kathie, and I run the children’s department in a public library in Manitoba. I’m also a co-founder of the MG Book Village website, and I blog about books at Bit About Books with Laurie Hnatiuk. This is my first nonfiction book, and I’m very excited to have it in the world.

Colleen: I’m Colleen and I teach middle years. This is my sixteenth book, but my first non-fiction and I’m also so excited to have it out in the world!

What was the inspiration behind IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT?

K: We wanted young readers to see a wide variety of jobs and people passionate about what they do. And it was important to us that kids see they don’t have to have their life figured out before they leave high school.

Absolutely true and a really great point to make.

How did this partnership come to be? What was it like working with a co-author?

K: Colleen and I knew each other from a committee on which we sat, and then we started the MG Lit Online Book Club together at the start of the pandemic. We realized how well we worked together, so when the idea for the book arose, we knew we could collaborate on it. We each did our profiles individually, frequently checking in to discuss our progress, but I’m still amazed how our similar writing styles make it difficult to tell who wrote which profile!

That’s so cool!

Can you each share an interesting thing you discovered while working on IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT?

K: So many of the people we profiled didn’t have straight paths to their jobs. Many didn’t discover what they loved to do until they were in their 20s and had some life experience. I think it’s really important for kids to see they can change their minds about their futures.

C: I loved learning about the obstacles people faced and how they overcame them. Many of the folks we talked to were so inspiring. Social justice was an element that ran through a lot of jobs in unexpected ways. 

How did you decide which individuals to include in IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT?

K: We spent a LOT of time researching online to find individuals who loved their jobs and had a unique angle that readers might find interesting. For example, we profiled a female smokejumper and an NHL scout who work in traditionally male-dominated fields. It was also important to focus on diversity so all kinds of young readers could see themselves represented in the book.

What’s your favourite part about working on non-fiction projects?

K: I love conducting interviews. I spoke to so many interesting people, and I found it fascinating to hear their stories and the paths that led them to where they are today. 

C: I’m mainly a fiction writer so I liked the feeling of accomplishment that came after completing a profile. Unlike a book that takes months (and months!), I could complete a profile in a few days. It was satisfying!

Any hints about your next book project? (Either together or individually?)

K: I can’t say much at this point, but keep your eyes open for another collaboration from us.

C: I have a middle grade book out this spring and I’ll work on anything with Kathie! She was the best writing partner I could have asked for.

Oooh, exciting! Can’t wait!

What has been the most surprising part of the publishing journey for each of you?

K: I wasn’t expecting long periods of time between stages of publishing a book. I had to learn patience and trust the process.

C: How seamlessly the writing feels. Readers won’t know there were two writers working on this book. I also love Scot Ritchie’s illustrations–they add a whimsical feel to the book.

What are you reading right now?

K: I’m currently reading Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi, a story about a pack of rescue dogs that have to learn to work together and protect each other.

C: I’m reading ‘Framed’ by James Ponti. My students and I love his City Spies series. My read alouds at school are ‘Butt Sandwich and Tree’ by Wesley King and ‘Dry’ by Neil Shusterman. I also love audio books and am almost finished ‘American Dirt’ by Jeanine Cummins.

What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?

K: Be open to collaborating with another person on a writing project. Sharing ideas and letting the process unfold organically can lead to a great partnership.

C: Don’t be limited to one genre or type of writing because it’s familiar. Taking a risk and trying something new turned into one of my favorite writing experiences.

Both excellent points!

Thank you so much for joining us, Kathie and Colleen!

Kick-butt Kidlit friends, make sure you check out
It’s on shelves now!


Connect with Kathie on Twitter or Instagram!
Connect with Colleen on Twitter or Instagram!

Click here to enter to win a copy of IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT!
Contest closes Thursday, December 8th at 11:59 pm EST

Thanks for reading!


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