Drawing from her own life experiences, Newton native Katelyn Dorrell came up with the idea for her first (self-published) children's book, "Cavemen Don't Have Bed Times." The 2014 book, Dorrell noted, was based off three children she used to nanny for — who never wanted to go to bed.
Moving forward, given her other experience — with a master's degree in English and a background in editing/publishing — Dorrell saw an opportunity to further invest in her (and others') writing career, starting SlothHead Press in 2017. Additionally, opening the independent publishing company gave her a chance to do more of what she'd come to love.
"I've been a writer since elementary school. It's just something that I was really passionate about, especially about writing for young people because I feel like I gained so much from reading when I was younger — many life lessons and social skills came from books and I've just always loved them," Dorrell said.
Currently, SlothHead Press (based out of Emporia) has released four books in its first year of business — including works from Kansas natives Jerilynn Henrikson, Anna Hefley, Dorrell and fellow Newtonian Barbara Unruh ("Owl Can't Sleep!").
Included among those 2017 releases is Dorrell's third book to be published, "Hannah Bandana," the story of an adventurous young girl whose passion for creating new things leads a neighbor boy to believe she's an alien from outer space — the ultimate lesson being that both are capable of amazing things, regardless of gender. That highlights a focus of the publishing company's mission, which is to tell stories for children and young adults that engage and inspire young people to see things from different viewpoints.
"The kind of motto, I guess, of SlothHead Press is 'dedicated to seeing things from a different perspective,'" Dorrell said. "It's about being able to see eye to eye with other people and see past the differences and to the things that we can really love about each other."
Bringing people together through writing is a goal Dorrell set out to achieve through starting SlothHead Press, hoping to tell some diverse stories.
Going into year two, Dorrell said she hopes to maintain a similar workload — releasing another four books in 2019 — though she is currently working on a chapter book, a process that takes a little more time and may impact the volume of projects she takes on as publisher.
As an independent publisher, Dorrell said she is working to build a rapport with the authors and intends to print books that can build stronger relationships. Those relationships can be formed early, something Dorrell knows from experience, which is part of why she wanted to focus on children's literature at SlothHead Press — as well as the more optimistic tone.
"Part of my reason for focusing on children's books was I have a passion for kids," Dorrell said. "I also feel like adult literature can sometimes be really cynical, and so I think that children's literature is really refreshing in that it can have a lot more hope in general."
For more on the authors and books published by SlothHead Press, visit www.slothheadpress.com.