Interview with Patricia Kieta Author of The Lenny Book Series and More – Lenny Finds His Line

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

A child, at any given moment, is creating a story that is unique to them or perhaps is common to children all over the World.  The reason it is so special is that they do not even realize they are “creating” and what the potential impact may have on future generations.  That is what make this genre special.

When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer?

I always found myself writing letters, poems or stories for individuals who were crossing paths with me at various stages in my life.  They were simple expressions of how felt at the time or fictionalized stories for the children in my life.  When I experienced the closing of my business, the realization of not wanting to work for someone hit me square in the face.  This is when I took stock of what was bubbling up inside of me.  I wanted to be a writer.

What inspires you to write?

The most awe inspiring moments have come while being a grandmother for seven grandchildren.  Parenting gets in the way of sitting back and enjoying the wonderment of watching your children be children.  The light bulb turns on when you see the child of your child.  From then on, it is a hailstorm of thoughts and ideas.  These grandchildren have friends and so more stories evolve.  The possibilities are endless when you have the time to finally look through those rose colored glasses.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?

I wish I was one of the more disciplined writers who make the time to write.  I am really a fly by the seat of your pants writer and I write when the words speak to me and in some cases are yelling at me to get with the program.  Inspiration comes at any time, day or night, which leaves me scrambling for paper and writing tool, or being more tech savvy and dictating to my phone.

Do you think authors have a normal life like others?

Normal is a very difficult concept to define.  Three cats climbing all over your work space is not only normal for me but very acceptable also.  Not sure those with cat allergies would find this normal. There are dishes in the sink, laundry to do, babysitting requirements, volunteering and many other responsibilities that are all in the normal spectrum.  Most of the time I would rather be writing.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I remember being a child that always followed the rules and definitely colored inside the lines.  It is interesting to me as a writer that I definitely get on that “wave” and ride it wherever it takes me.  Sometimes my stories initiate from a title that pops out of my brain in the middle of the night, as it did with my first book.  Other books I have written find their story in a one sentence line or in an outline.  Truly, I am like a bag of popcorn in the microwave when it comes to my story writing.

What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

This is easy for me to answer.  A book should have a character that the reader or the one being read to, can identify with.  Only then will they come back to read the book many times over and to reach out for more books just like them.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

We are a very visual society.  This sense of sight is the first encounter some of the young readers experience.  The design of the cover, with bright colors and pictures will draw them to wanting to open the book and explore the inside.  Then the title becomes the hook for the person who will read the book to them and to the reader as they become more fluent in this skill.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

While I wish I could minimize the importance a book cover plays in the selling process, I have to admit that if you want to sell books they need to have good karma when it comes to the cover.  As a writer who only wants to write, finding illustrators who understand your goals and then putting it to paper is a daunting task.  However, if you do want to sell your books you need to focus on this aspect.

What did you want to become when you were a kid?

My first choice was a ballerina.  Later years were engrossed with being a teacher.  I followed neither of these paths.  My adult life before writing was soundly entrenched in the business world.  While it provided a good financial path, I found myself yearning to have been a teacher, with a close second as a ballerina!

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

My stories are about the children I encounter and their antics.  They are not about my own childhood memories.  That being said, an author always leaves a little bit of themselves in every book they write.  Just the pride of ownership I guess.

Who are your books mostly dedicated to?

All my books have special dedications to family members, children who have inspired the story or a professional class that benefits from the lesson.  I often wonder if I will run out of people to dedicate my books too but I think not.

Is it true that anyone can be a writer?

YES, YES, YES!  In fact, this is something I try and leave with every grade I get to read my books to, which is usually First through Third.  I have even taught some classes on creativity for Seventh Graders where I emphasize this.  The premise revolves around the fact that certain career paths, sports for example, may require you to be a certain height, like in basketball, to be the most effective.  A clear understanding of a subject makes it viable to be a Math Teacher or a Biologist.  I tell them anyone can be a writer.  It does not have to be a book, but it can, any genre or a poem, a piece of music, a reporter for Google or any career where the written word can play a part in who you are.

People believe that being a published author is glamorous, is that true?

Just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is glamour.  I never would describe writing as a glamorous undertaking.  However, if glamour is the same as feeling good about yourself at the end of the day, then glamorous I am.

Are you there where you wanted to be?

I am not and I am.  I am not because there are so many books that I have in various stages of publishing as well as ideas constantly popping from my head, that I want to get into the hands of children.  I am because I have received so much satisfaction in the books I have published and have had the pleasure of reading to my audience of children.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

Currently I am working on books that run the gamut from being a little silly and addressing a more serious issue of respecting differences.  The challenge is making each one interesting to the audience.  It is easier to get the lighter topic to pique the interest of a child.  The greater challenge is taking a serious topic, teaching the lesson, creating the character and not intimidating the reader.

When can the readers expect your next book in print?

I have an aggressive agenda of trying to complete the process of getting six more books in print during the September 2017 – September 2018 school year.

Is today’s generation more aware of the literary art or less?

Never one to speak ill of someone when I can spin it to the good side, I would say that today’s generation is all encompassed in technology that may or may not focus on the literary art.  They are bombarded by so much information that time is limited when it comes to recognizing writing as an art form.  Few people write letters anymore and thank you notes are becoming a thing of the past.  Teachers have less time and more demands to keep the grades at a certain point.  Thus, creativity takes a back seat and creative time to write is limited.

How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?

If you asked my illustrator and marketing person, they would say I am definitely not active enough on Social Media.  I am trying and with some strong encouragement doing better at getting my books out to the new generations.  This new frontier has absolutely no effect on the way I write.  I would like to think you can’t change perfection but it is more a matter of you can only be who you are.

If you had to pick one author to write your biography, who would it be?

Without hesitation it would have to be Dr. Seuss.  There has to be so many rhyming combinations to describe the wonderful ride I call life.  I know it would be great reading for my grandchildren.

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

If you are an aspiring writer I would tell you that you are half way there.  Wanting to write means you have something to write about.  Now you need to learn the magic in creating that written piece so that others will want to read it.  Establish who is your audience and learn everything about them that you can.  Read what other authors have published in the genre you enjoy.  Pick their works apart.  What did you find interesting, what did you like, what did you dislike and would you read it again or read more of their work? Find a unique path.  Go and color outside the lines and enjoy it.

To learn more about Patricia and her books please visit: www.patriciakieta.com

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