Interview with T. Katz, Author of Children's Chapter Book,Miss L'eau

T. Katz, a resident of Southern California has been involved in the children's entertainment industry since the early 80's working on hundreds of episodes of animated television and as a music instructor to hundreds of very animated children. She is also the honorary conductor of a four-part harmony household, consisting of her two children (three if you count the spouse on a bad day) and Alice the cat. The people that surround her help her to continue seeing the world with all its magic, beauty and potential. She lives by the motto "a good book, a cup of tea and somehow all is right with the world." Her adventures in life are adding welcome lines of character to her face and scattered optimistic silver linings all over her head. You can visit her website at www.tkatz.com.

We interviewed Ms. Katz to find out more about her writing life as well as what was involved in writing her new children's chapter book, Miss L'eau.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Ms. Katz. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been writing?


Having been involved in the children's entertainment industry since the early 80's (working on hundreds of episodes of animated television) and as a current music instructor to hundreds of very animated children - storytelling has always been a part of my world. Writing has also always been a part of my daily routine since childhood, but I started getting serious about it when I was in television production and a particularly prickly boss laughed and told me, "Girls can't write." I immediately when into my office, shut the door and started writing Miss L'eau.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Miss L'eau tells the tales of two kids in a coastal town who discover a secret about their elementary school teacher, Miss L'eau, which changes their lives forever. The kids had always known there was something unusual about her, but they could never quite put their finger on it. Even though they've have always lived near the ocean, they never thought about its importance, power and certainly never its vulnerability. Through Miss L'eau, and her unexpected relationship to the sea, they develop a love and understanding for the great body of water covering nearly 75% of the earth's surface. With their teacher's help, they become involved with a nearby aquarium and organize an annual clean-up event in their community and hope to inspire others to do the same.

Growing up in Watsonville in Northern California you're not far from the ocean, and it becomes a part of you. Watsonville is sandwiched between Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, and though it's a booming agricultural area - when you live there you're still a product of the sea. It's in your bones, all that salt air and hundreds of days of fog a year. You're practically swimming in moisture standing on the sidewalk. As a result, the sea is never far from your thoughts. Even when I moved to sunny, bone-dry Southern California's high desert I still had saltwater running in my veins. Every chance I had, I would turn my car in the direction of the nearest beach and spend as much time as I could, but seeing the ocean slurp up and spit back litter made me cry. I didn't remember seeing all that trash as a young person, so I decided to write Miss L'eau, in an effort to make young minds aware of the help our shores needed. If one page of Miss L'eau makes a reader want to investigate more about the water surrounding us, then a good deed was done.
What kind of research was involved in writing Miss L'eau?

There are so many great books and websites about the care and keeping of the ocean and importance of the water cycle that I spent months and months immersed in them, absorbing as much as I could to infuse into the story of Miss L'eau. It was my intention that even though Miss L'eau is a fictional story, it's heart would be based in fact.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

None, really, but I was happy that the artist was intrigued by the imagery in the eyes of Miss L'eau and chose to follow that theme.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

It has been a life-long journey of bumpy roads paved with rejection letters and the speed bumps that come with life, like marriage, children, illnesses and creative inertia.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

My first batch of query letters that mentioned Miss L'eau went out at the end of 2005, was accepted by an independent publisher in June of 2006 and the book was published in March of 2008.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it's necessary to have one?

At this time, I do not have an agent and am still trying to secure a date for that literary prom in the sky.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I am knee-deep in research for a teen ghost novel that weaves it way through the historic gold mining district of Northern California, a story that keeps me up at night like a melody that won't go away once it's in your head. I'm also finishing the last pages of another children's chapter book that deals with bullying and puberty.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Depending on what's happening in my life, and in my children's lives, it's scheduling that determines whether I become the dreaded night owl or the socially acceptable day light writer. I find I'm a happier, more well-balanced person making hay when the sun shines and my family prefers it, too. There are times though when the characters in your head refuse to wait until morning, no matter what, and you sacrifice that precious midnight oil.
If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

It would have to be money for planes, trains and automobiles for school visits. I really enjoy talking to kids about the message of Miss L'eau, ocean conservation and preservation and the importance of water, but it's cost-prohibitive for schools nowadays to invite an author to visit and I'd like to go anyway.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Just like the old joke about a kid having "a face only a mother could love", nobody knows and loves your book and it's characters the way the author does. Therefore, self-promotion means the author will do more for a book than the publisher can. For Miss L'eau I have been very busy contacting, via snail mail, ocean conservation organizations, aquariums and libraries and through the internet I've been maintaining as much as a social media profile as I can. I have also recently produced a Miss L'eauBook Trailer that I have on YouTube and other websites.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

The phrase, "Never, never, never give up!" may have been uttered about military conflict, but the words should be the battle cry for all warrior writers. While you may have to focus your attention on other things to keep a roof over your head and food in the refrigerator, you should not let your love of writing be stifled by feelings of inadequacy, paralyzing perfectionism or the opinions of others. The march on the road to publishing has to be a constant cycle of write, revise, submit and repeat and never, never, never give up.
Thank you for your interview, Ms. Katz. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

You can visit my website at www.TKatz.com. Miss L'eau is available now on Amazon.com and in select bookstores.
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