A whimsical voice and a serious mind.
I never intended to be a writer.
“In a fourth- grade fantasy of who I would be at age thirty, I dreamed of being an artist. I would live in the desert with one horse, two dogs, three cats, four gerbils, etc. etc. etc. (and a conspicuous absence of men). I would have long, straight, blonde hair down to my butt. I would wear a clingy blue bell-bottomed pantsuit with a round zipper pull.” — from Perfectly Revolting: My Glamorous Cartooning Career
I wanted to be someone that people wrote about.
But as the daughter of a writer, the mother of a writer, and the wife of a writer, I faced the inevitable and started writing seriously in my late 30s. In my late 40s I was diagnosed with ADHD, after which I was able to more fully embrace my hallmark (and sometimes off-putting) hyperactivity, distractibility, and impulsivity as my brand, incorporating my strengths of critical thinking, creativity, and curiosity. I chafe constantly at the notion that I, as a woman, have to be more perfect than I come across, but when I let my intelligence and humor lead the way, I am heard.
I wallow in, rejoice in, and trust my way with words.
And when I fall in love with an idea, words channel my intensity and create possibility.
Meanwhile, my muse challenges me to embrace multiple genera and platforms.
I like writing everything but bios. Theatrically aware of voice, when I try to write a literary sounding statement, it comes up sounding like: “Writing hyperactively at the intersection of humor, holism, and hilarity…” or, “Writing at the intersection of School and Champion Streets…” “Kristen Caven attempts to be a voice for the strong feminine, the seer and the shaper.”
Kristen (Baumgardner) Caven is the author of two memoirs: Perfectly Revolting: My Glamorous Cartooning Career (Little Pig Productions, 2010), The Reason She Left and Other Stories (Little Pig Productions, 2011), and a novel, The Souls of Her Feet (Uplift Press, 2015, 2019). She is the co-author of three self-help books: The Winning Family (Dodd, Mead, Inc 1987, LifeSkills Press 1990, Celestial Arts, 1990), On The Wings of Self-Esteem (Celestial Arts 1993, Uplift Press 2014), and The Bullying Antidote (Hazelden, 2013). She’s written a dozen or so blogs including the nationally appearing Life in the Fast Brain (ADDitude Magazine), published paper doll ‘zines, wrote the libretto for a triple musical based on fairytales, and several plays.
Kristen’s short stories, articles, essays, cartoons, and comics have been published in Oakland Unseen, Oakland Tribune, The Monthly, Rudolf’s Diner, Doorknobs and Body Paint, Synchronized Chaos, Full of Crow, The Sophisticate, and The Good Men Project to name a few.
She has been featured in The Monthly and The Montclarion, and read many times and presented programs at the legendary Octopus Literary Salon. Her book launches have been legendary. Her work is included in the anthologies 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy,and We Are In This Together and she has participated in or produced many literary readings in the Bay Area.
Kristen’s awards include: Ardella Mills Essay Prize (The Warhol Effect), Bay Guardian Cartoon Contest winner—collection category (Inside the Mills Revolution); Quarterfinalist in the Writer’s Network screenplay & fiction competition (Shoes, a Mirror, and a Big Pink Rose), and the first annual Aluminous Flash Mob Play Festival (Be Mused). She also won a grant from the Dimond Improvement Association to perform The Dirndl Diaspora at Oaktoberfest 2020. An animated version was seen on three continents.