Today, we share with you an interview with Susan B. Katz, author of My Mama Earth, which celebrates the bond between a child, his mother and Mother Earth. Read on to learn more about Susan’s inspiration, her tips for aspiring writers and more!

Q: What was your favorite thing to do outdoors as a child?
A: When I was a child, my favorite thing to do outdoors was show my dog, Ginger, in local competitions. She looked just like Lassie and won many blue ribbons. My dad and I also grew a garden with sunflowers, watermelons, cucumbers and the like. I used to race outside every day after school to see the progress of the garden and then report on it to my dad as soon as he walked in the door from work. We’d go check it together. It was my favorite part of the day.

Q: Where did you get the idea for the story My Mama Earth?
A: My best friend from childhood, who is also named Susan, and I were talking on the phone one day while I was driving to work. She said that her daughter, MacKenzie, thinks that her twin aunts “hung the moon.” I loved that saying and started thinking up the words to the book right way.

The two lines that I came up with in the car were, “My Mama hangs the moon for me. She puts it low so I can see,” and “My Mama lights the millionth star. Not too close, but not too far.”

Q:  As a bilingual teacher and literacy coach, what are two things you tell your students that you hope they’ll always remember?
A: “You are a good person, no matter what.Sometimes, your behavior is bad or good, but you are always a good person at the core.”

“Try your best. Nobody is perfect and we are all learning and make mistakes. Even me. Be creative and think outside the box. That is what most famous artists, scientists and writers have always done. Everyone learns differently and has different strengths.”

Q: What was the funniest memory you have of working on the book?
A: I was on a writers’ retreat with my critique group at a house in the mountains, thinking about the ending. We were lying in the attic of the house, staring at the stars when a bat flew into the house. My friends and I called it a “flying marsupial,” which is not correct, but it became a running joke.

Q: Who were you thinking of when you wrote the book?
A: I wrote this book five or six years ago, before my twin nephews were born, and I was thinking about my nephew, Sam, and my nieces, Kate and Sofia, and all of the wonderful children who are loved so very deeply by their mamas. I based the sentiment around the unconditional love I feel from my grandmother (who turned 99 last week), mom and dad-hence the dedication-but also thought about the connection that I have to nature and children, both of which are pure and perfect to me.

Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
A: I have heard so many at conferences and in writers’ group. I would say, “Write what you know” is cliché, but true. Develop your own unique voice and write about what you are passionate about. If you believe in a story, write it, even if people say it won’t sell.  People told me–and still tell me–that rhyme doesn’t sell, but I seem to have a magnetic attraction to writing in rhyme. I must be a distant relative of Dr. Seuss, my family jokingly calls me Dr. Suz (Suz is my nickname) as I began writing in rhyme in school.

Q: What’s been the most fun reaction of a child to your book?
A: During my presentations, I love to see students sway like tree branches or hear them roar like lions while singing the song that my good friend, Julia Bordenaro of The Levins, recorded on YouTube. That is as blissful as an author can get.

Q: How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day?
A: I plan to celebrate Earth Day by presenting My Mama Earth to children at my west coast book launch at Book Passage in Corte Madera on 4/21 at 10 a.m.  On Earth Day, which is the following day, I will probably go to the beach or hike one of the incredible trails in Marin County in order to stay connected with and appreciative of Mother Nature.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: When I’m not writing I am dancing salsa, samba, merengue, bachata or zumba on the weekend and teaching children to read and write. I also coach teachers on how to teach reading and writing during the week.

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