LITTLE BIG PORTRAIT of KATE BANKS
Our questions to Kate Banks
Which place do you find the most inspiring in Monaco?
My favorite areas of Monaco are those that showcase nature: the Japanese gardens, the two magnificent trees flanking the St. Charles steps, the Rocher with it’s centuries’ old pine trees and landscaped gardens overlooking the sea. I love the privilege of viewing the the mountains on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. And I love looking down on the lit city from the Rocher after dark descends.
Your favourite restaurants ?
My favorite place to eat is home! I love to cook and I take full advantage of the fabulous and varied produce available both here and in nearby Italy. When I eat out it’s usually Italian—Mozza or Terazzino. Otherwise, I am a regular at Eqvita, Jelena and Novak Djokovich’s new vegan restaurant. I admire their passion for clean food and their desire to share that with others.
Your secret to stay in shape?
I’ve been a student of Pilates from its inception in Monaco. There are a couple of great teachers here who are really tops. And I do gyrotonics regularly which is another form of movement that enhances body awareness. Monaco is great for walking and you can get a pretty good workout just going about your everyday business on foot. Lastly, I do pottery on the wheel at the Ecole of Arts Plastiques on the Rocher—great for the body and soul.
As for beauty—plenty of sunshine and fresh air, and generally pursuing what I love.
One of your little daily pleasures ?
Writing, of course! I start my day with 20 minutes of silence, walking in nature or reading—activities which awaken my senses and put me in touch with my inner voice and being. That’s followed by an Italian coffee, homemade pancakes or granola. Then it’s down to business writing for 2-3 hours.
A local artist you admire ?
I am a great fan of movement and dance and enjoy the Monaco Ballet and dance troupes who perform regularly in the principality. As for local artists, anything artisan—whether food or fabric—inspires me. There are some wonderful potters in the Drome—a few hours from Monaco
Your secret addresses to share with our Little Big Monaco reader?
Italy is my second home and it’s near enough so that I go there often. I love some of the local hill towns with their labyrinths of cobbled streets shops, and restaurants. Dolceaqua has a open food market the last Sunday of each month and a retro bar (California) that serves a great cappuccino. Alassio, a bit further down the coast, is another of my favorite spots. It’s closed to traffic and has a sandy beach and restaurants and shops are open on Sundays
Kate Banks is an American children's author who has won many awards, including the New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the Charlotte Zolotow Best Picture Book. Kate has lived in Monaco for 20 years, and is finishing her first novel for adults after having written over 50 books for children.
« I love stories and I have always had a lot of imagination». Kate’s mother was a teacher and Kate spent her childhood in Maine « wrapped in books » .That's where her passion for children’s books was born.
While studying at the prestigious Wellesley College near Boston, she interned for 2 years in the children's book department of «Atlantic Monthly Press. » publishing house where she learned about the various phases of book making. Then after her master degree in History from Columbia University she was hired by the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf as assistant to editor Frances Foster. That’s when Kate published her first children’s book « Alphabet soup » at only 25 years old. Her book tells the story of a little boy, who instead of eating his meal, write words with the letters of his soup creating a story.
« Each of my books is about connections, about the way we connect and share with others». Kate’s literary world is all about nature, love, tenderness, dreams and the passing by seasons. It is a soft and poetic universe.
It was at Columbia university that she met her husband, an Italian, and decided to settle in Rome. « It was cultural shock for me to live with the « l’arte di arrangiarsi ». The «art of getting by» seems indeed to be the opposite of Kate, who like her books appears calm and serene.
It was also in the eternal city that she met illustrator Georg Hallensleben, a decisive encounter in her professional life. « His studio was located in an old four mill and he was exhibited in local art galleries. I loved the sense of place in his work». Together they have published 10 books, all successful, such as « Close your eyes », winner of the New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book, which tells the story of a mother tiger, reassuring her baby at bedtime by telling him about all the beautiful places he can travel to in his dreams.
After 9 years in Rome, the couple decided to look for a quieter place to raise their 2 sons. They chose Monaco, where Kate’s husband, an engineer, had the opportunity to open an office.
Silence is key
«I am always working on several stories at a time. If I get blocked on a project, I move on to another one. Right now, I am finishing my first novel for adults». Kate especially likes to write for children between 10 & 12 years old « the age of understanding ». She’s worried about what teenagers are reading today such as dystopia, that describes a hopeless word. « My sister, a psychiatrist who taught at Harvard, demonstrated how those readings have a negative impact on the mental balance of teenagers by increasing the production of dopamine feeding the desire fore more-more violence and more darkness. Children today are bombarded by visual and sensory stimulation from a very young age when quiet and silent moments are necessary. That’s the reason why Kate wrote « The quiet book », still the publisher changed the tittle for a more commercial one, as peace and quiet are not fashionable in our modern world.
A dramatic event in 2002 led Kate to pursue a second career, in addition to writing. After a terrible accident in Nice and a near death experience, she suffered from chronic pain that handicapped her for 3 years. Working with hypnotherapy and energy medicine she was able to make a complete recovery. She then went on to train at the « Regression Academy » in the UK and became Hypnotherapist and Regression therapist. It’s a way to erase and transform the scars from traumatic events. But my 2 activities are closely linked, she says. « My first job is to write stories and the second one to listen to other people’s stories. For me stories are a means not only to create but to heal.».
▼ THIS IS YOUR POP WINDOW ▼