ELMHURST – On YouTube, Kat Hibbard is dressed in a tight orange jumpsuit that covers every inch of her body. She is featured wearing an oversized pair of purple goggles, and she has the phrase “Chubby Chasers” strategically placed across her chest. Her backdrop appears to be just a small part of her room. The sunlight, blocked by her window shades, tries to enter her room, leaving the viewer to see little more than a silhouette of the orange figure.
With a calm, crisp and clear tone in her voice, Hibbard greets her viewers and begins to lure them into her world. She reads sections of "Chubby Chasers," the first book of her three-part series, which tells the story of a plus-sized woman named Carrolyyn Davidson who feels trapped by the confines of her strict daily work routine until she discovers an online dating service that opens the door to an unchartered path of confidence, beauty and self-empowerment.
“There’s a little bit of Carrolyyn in all of us,” Hibbard said, adding the connection between the suit and the story may seem a little strange at first.
The Elmhurst author explained Carrolyyn’s story starts off by clueing the reader in on her lifestyle and her job as a successful event planner working on a campaign boldly titled “The Fastest Trim Down.”
“She wears six outfits, you know. She packs her lunch in organized containers,” Hibbard said, adding Carrolyyn is self-conscious about her size, and her work routine has led her to feel stagnant, emotionless.
Hibbard said at its core, the story is a visual, artistic and honest representation “of all us” who may feel imprisoned through relationships or lack of relationships that bring us to that place of vulnerability and loneliness – a feeling she is all too familiar with.
The 50-year-old recalled a painful time in her life that inspired her to write her first book in 2006, a memoir titled "Bullets." In 19 short essays, Hibbard, 42 at the time, chronicled pieces of her childhood, where she and her two sisters were exposed to domestic violence, abuse, drugs and alcoholism by their parents.
“We saw things as kids that kids shouldn’t see,” Hibbard said, noting the book’s title was not only a metaphor of how her childhood felt – fast, violent and fatal – but also represented how her father’s interest in guns left actual bullet holes in the walls of their home.
Hibbard, who works as an educator, said she has read parts of her book aloud to students during speaking engagements. She added many of her readers have asked her if writing the book was a way for her to cope with her past.
“You don’t write a tell-all book if you’re not healed,” Hibbard said, adding her overall mission as a writer is to help encourage kids to talk and tell their stories, especially when no one is listening.
Hibbard recalled a particular chapter in the book where she discussed dropping out of high school at 15 years old after skipping school for a month.
“My parents didn’t know. The school didn’t call. No one knew,” she said, adding she lied about her age to get a full-time job.
Both of her books may be different, Hibbard said, but there is a thread that keeps them together: her children, Bailey, 23, and Logan, 19.
“This is what they call ‘breaking the cycle,’” Hibbard said.
She explained her parents left her to figure things out for herself during her formative years, but when she decided to have her own children, she committed to being a loving, supportive mother.
Hibbard said a part of the reason why she wrote “Chubby Chasers” is to raise money for her children’s college tuition. Like Carrolyyn's decision to click on the dating site, Hibbard is once again taking a chance on her writing to share a story that walks readers through the transition of becoming a fulfilled self.
Bailey and Logan said they have seen their mother bring art to life by pursuing her own dreams with a purpose, which has inspired them to follow their own ambitions of music and performance, along with receiving a higher education.
“You can come out of any situation and be a success,” Bailey said, noting that’s the lesson she learned from her mother – a lesson Hibbard, too, hopes her readers can come to see within the pages of her books.
To learn more about local author Kat Hibbard, visit kathibbard.com.