Kathy strives to write stories that are historically accurate, realistic, and always hopeful. If you like historical novels about strong and independent women, you’ll love her books!
Kathy Stillerman has thirty years’ experience as a teacher, curriculum specialist, and middle school principal in North Carolina public schools. She graduated Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, with a BA in History. She also earned an MA in Intermediate Education from Campbell University, Buies Creek, North Carolina, and an EdD in Educational Leadership from UNC-Greensboro.
Stillerman lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she and her husband raised four sons. Now retired, she enjoys her new career as an author and spending time with her grandchildren.
Kathy Stillerman began her career as an author when she retired from public school teaching and administration. After publishing a memoir, Retirement: A Journey not a Destination, she decided to try her hand at fiction. With an academic background in U.S. history and a passion for Southern literature and storytelling, she considered historical fiction the ideal genre.
Stillerman set her first novel, Hattie’s Place, in rural Pickens County, South Carolina, in 1906. The main character, Hattie Robinson, a first-year teacher boarding in the home of a wealthy businessman, is loosely based on the life of Kathy’s grandmother.
Over the Mountain skips a generation to follow Hattie’s granddaughter, Harriet Elizabeth Oechsner, into the 1960’s and the era of the Cold War and American Civil Rights movement. Harriet must adjust to her family’s move to the affluent and highly segregated community of Mountain Brook, Alabama, right in the middle of her high school career.
Kathy Stillerman has been a writer for as far back as she can remember. She’s a maker of lists, a keeper of journals, a letter-writer, and a communicator on social media. She’s even writes an occasional poem or anecdote.
Kathy earned a BA in History at Furman University, where she learned the skills of historical research and writing. Her coursework focused primarily on American history, from 1865 to the present.
She started her career as a U.S. history teacher in North Carolina public schools. Later, she earned an MA in Intermediate Education from Campbell University and began teaching language arts and social studies in middle school.
During her career in middle grades, writing was a big focus. As a language arts teacher, she followed Nancy Atwell and her work on creating classroom writing workshops.
“It was the most democratizing method of teaching I ever found! I loved teaching the writing process to my kids and then setting them loose to create their stories and discover their voices. Everyone could participate on his/her own level and at his/her own pace. No one was left outside the circle. We all wrote together and shared our writing.
When Kathy earned an EdD in Educational Leadership from UNC-Greensboro, she left classroom teaching to become a curriculum coordinator and later a building level principal. She continued her writing by developing curriculum materials and guides for her school and district.
When she retired from her job as a middle school principal in 2011, she decided to devote full time to becoming an author. She had never written a novel but she was determined to give it a try. Kathy loves to read Southern literature and wanted to write some. Her background in history drew her to the genre of historical fiction.
Kathy had always wanted to write a memoir of her grandmother, a strong and independent woman who had been a teacher, and had overcome great adversity when she was younger. She faced the problem of knowing only sketchy details about her early life. Instead of a memoir, she decided to write a novel, with the main character based loosely on her grandmother.
“Nonnie never talked much about the early years. And so I developed a fictional story based on what I knew, and imagined the rest. I created the main character, Hattie Robinson, and that’s how the Barton Family series got started.”
Kathy believes in the philosophy of “Learning by Doing” and she had a lot to learn! Now that she has reached her goal of becoming a published author, she is learning how to market and promote her books.
It’s been quite a journey for her, and the learning curve has been steep at times. But she loves her second career and is in it for the long term!
Kathy is currently drafting the fourth novel in the Barton Family series, Rising Above It. The story is set in South Carolina during the Great Depression. In this book, Hattie is faced with personal and economic crises that will test her resolve and challenge her ability to keep the family afloat.