A fourth generation Californian, I was born into a family of educators and musicians, so I was destined to be creative from Day One. I mean, what else could I do with perfect pitch? When I climbed up onto the piano bench at age 3 and plunked out “Happy Birthday” with my thumb, the die was cast. Music filled my life from then on, but so did books. My summers were spent either reading or playing my flute and piano. I became a teacher after my mother and grandmother before me, but writing books didn’t really interest me until I retired from teaching in 2005. Let’s just say, when you look up “late bloomer” in the dictionary, you’ll see my picture.
We moved to Arizona when I was nine, where I learned to play the violin and flute. Favorite books during elementary school included The Box Car Children, anything by Carolyn Haywood and Beverly Cleary, and of course, the Nancy Drew series. My fourth grade teacher read us the Little House books, and I still own the whole series today. During my high school years, I was influenced by such authors as George Orwell, John Steinbeck, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. My writing experiences included the usual essays and short stories required in any AP English class, plus a two-year stint on the newspaper staff. When given a choice, I would much rather take an essay test than multiple choice. I had a knack for finding a reason that every choice could work in some situation. So I welcomed the chance to defend my conclusions in essay form. I received my bachelor's degree in Music Education from Northern Arizona University and my master's from Arizona State. I taught elementary band and general music for twelve years, before making the decision to move into the regular classroom. For 20 years I taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grade until I retired.
I guess you could say that I reinvented myself after retirement. I had written several school musicals that aligned with the curriculum, as well as seven collaborations for a community children's theatre, for which I received four AriZoni Awards for Original Music Composition. Writing seemed to come naturally to me, so I set out to write a series of picture books with an original song for each. One publisher suggested I write chapter books and middle grade. I took that advice and finally found my writing voice. My first chapter book, Mortimer and Me, is based on the bedtime stories my dad used to tell me when I was a child. My books are about the things I love most - family, music, traveling to exotic places, and just the joy of being a kid!
School Visits: Now scheduling in-person and virtual visits for the 2023-2024 school year. Contact me to set a date!
Dec. 16, 2023, 10:00am-5:00pm: Mesa Book Festival, Benedictine University, Mesa, AZ
July 13, 2024, 9:00am-2:30pm: Payson Book Festival, Mazatzal Hotel & Casino, Payson, AZ
Dec. 2, 2023. 10:00am-4:00pm: East Valley Children's Theatre Bookfair, Barnes & Noble-Dana Park, Mesa AZ
Dec. 9, 2023, 1:00-2:30pm: BOOK LAUNCH OF UNDERCOVER MOOSE, HD South, Gilbert, AZ
Special Online Events:
I now have a YouTube channel! Look for me under Kathie McMahon, Children's Author. My first video features one of the experiments done by Jimmy and Chelsey in the book, Moose In Space. There's also a chat with illustrator Tom Tate, as well as Rocket Science with the family on the 4th of July. Check them out here!