Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Greetings, Mom’s Choice readers! We hope this finds you well- thanks for joining us for another installment of our interview series. We were privileged to speak with Mom’s Choice Award-winning Author Kim English, who wrote the children’s books Rolly and Mac & A Home For Kayla. Keep reading to learn more about Kim and how her love for pets inspired her to write these award-winning children’s books!
MCA: Hi Kim! Thanks for chatting with us today! Can you start by sharing a little bit about yourself with our readers?
Kim: I am a Florida native, a later-in-life author and, as is evident from my books, an animal lover. I grew up in rural Florida and had the advantage of a childhood filled with horses, pets, 4-H and tons of outdoor exploring. I am a proud mama to many fur babies and one human. In addition to hanging with my critters, I am an avid reader, moviegoer, and love to travel. Most recently, my husband and I were able to take a trip to several different countries, including Peru and Australia. So I am trying to learn how to take proper pictures with a real camera and not a phone. This time of year in Florida is especially beautiful to photograph because some of the migratory birds are already here. I also love live theatre and music and truly wish I could sing in tune.
MCA: Florida sounds pretty nice, especially this time of year! You mentioned becoming a later-in-life author…what was your path to becoming a writer like? What inspired you?
Kim: Like many people, I said “I want to write a book” for years before I actually did. I first wrote Coriander Jones, a YA novel, which was originally published by a small press in 2013 and which I now have the rights to and am hoping to put out again (especially since the sequel has also been written). The Kayla picture book was my first collaboration with illustrator Yis Vang, and was really a personal endeavor. It is this book that the proceeds from goes to a local animal shelter. Real Kayla is now 14 years old and doing great for an old lady. In between the Kayla book and Rolly and Mac, I wrote two adult thrillers, which are on submission through my agent, Gina Panettieri, and which were both award winners in 2019, one for the Florida Writers Association and one at Killer Nashville’s Claymore Awards.
MCA: Wow, that’s inspiring! I too am an animal lover and just love that you are giving back locally to those animals in need. And, I think you’re well on your way to becoming a loved author if not already. Your recent award-winning book, Rolly and Mac, is about a friendship that is tested when the other animals say they are too different to get along. What are some of the key lessons found in Rolly and Mac?
Kim: Rolly and Mac is a book about finding community regardless of outward appearances, physical differences, or others’ opinions. I wanted to tell a story about friendship. The animals themselves in the story look very much like our own pets (Yis actually came out and took some pictures for reference). I hope it sends a gentle message that we are all in this together because I think it is so important for kids (and adults) to take a step back and not make snap judgments about another person. Much like children, Rolly and Mac are at that age where they see nothing other than potential new friends when they meet new people. As we get older, we make our world smaller and sometimes pass up the opportunity to form relationships. Rolly and Mac see this when the older animals point out all the reasons they are unlikely friends. But because their friendship is genuine, they instinctively know that this exclusion can’t be right, and, in the end, everyone agrees!
MCA: What kind of response from readers have you received?
Kim: The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, especially from the folks that also read Kayla, which was themed around adoption and what makes a family. Everything I write for children or teens, or even adults, usually has some common thread about family, relationships, or friendship.
MCA: As you mentioned earlier, proceeds from your book go to a local animal rescue. Tell us more about this!
Kim: The proceeds from Kayla do go a local no-kill cat shelter or a local dog rescue. Being a small and independent writer, my donations have been modest, but since Kayla, a rescue who was found wandering on the street, has brought us so much joy, I wanted to give back in the hopes that more animals will also find their perfect forever home.
MCA: If you could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?
Kim: One main lesson… Kindness is always the right choice.
MCA: That’s a great lesson and so important, especially in today’s world where people can be so cruel. Thank you so much, Kim, for sharing your time, knowledge, and talents with us! We are excited for our readers to learn more about kindness through your award-winning books while back at the same time!