Kathleen was born in Compton, California, to Mexican parents, and grew up in San Bernardino. She has a degree in linguistics from Stanford University, an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and an MFA from the University of New Orleans. The author of six books, Kathleen has written a collection of stories, three novels, a book of essays, and most recently, The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, from the University of Washington Press.

Her work has received many awards, including the Western States Book Award, the Governors Writers Award, and two Artist Trust Fellowships. Kathleen also teaches creative writing at the graduate level, and has served as permanent faculty at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, as a visiting professor at Seattle University and the University of New Mexico, and at conferences and workshops that include the Clarion West Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop. She has lived near Seattle, Washington, for twenty-one years, and has been designated an Island Treasure.

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