Friday, August 23, 2013

Interview Friday with LeeAnna Kail, author of The OWL Who Couldn't WHOO

Ever since LeeAnna Kail was little, she had an interest in writing. In fact, when she was in the fourth grade, she completed a career project and dressed as an author with dreams of writing her own book one day.

LeeAnna attended Duquesne University with a double major in political science and English with intentions of attending law school after graduation. While studying abroad in Rome, Italy, LeeAnna had a change of heart and decided to continue her education at Duquesne studying elementary education instead. She knew she found her niche the first day of class. Inspired by an assignment from a children’s literature course, LeeAnna's dream of writing a book has come true.

LeeAnna currently teaches in Pittsburgh and hopes to be an inspiration to her students to follow their dreams.
I want to thank LeeAnna for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today.

VS: How long have you been writing?

LeeAnna: I have been writing since I was a little girl. I can remember in grade school, my favorite projects were ones where we could make up stories, write, and illustrate them. My grandma still has one from third grade. Throughout high school and college, I continued writing papers and poems and gained an effective voice by adopting some of my dad’s techniques, who recently published a children’s novel. My dad would always help me write papers when I was growing up. Writing was also a way to express myself. I would occasionally write journal entries and travel logs. One of my favorite things is rereading those entries and logs and feeling those thoughts and feelings felt so long ago.

VS: What inspired you to write your book (if this is a personal story about you, please share about the decision to open up about your life)?

LeeAnna: The book came from a Children’s Literature class I had in graduate school. The professor had us write and illustrate our very own children’s books as we analyzed other children’s authors. Well, I am a procrastinator by heart and do my best work under pressure. True to character, a week before the project was due I still didn’t have any idea what I wanted to write. During class, I started looking around and noticed a small owl. It’s almost as if this paper cut out was looking at me. As soon as I thought of it, the idea came to me, “Hm…what about an owl who can’t WHOO?” And I ran with it.

VS: Is your family supportive of your writing?

LeeAnna: Very supportive. My family is a main reason why my book is published. I wrote my book for a graduate class and never intended to have it published. After sharing it with many people in my family, they encouraged me to try to get it published. I did what they said, and Wah-lah! The book is here! J

VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book?

LeeAnna: My book is about an owl named Ollie who cannot “WHOO.” Instead he says, “WHEERE!” or “WHEEN!” or “WHYY!” and sometimes “WHAAT!” Because he is different, the other owls tease him. When his little sister gets lost in the forest, Ollie comes up with the idea to use his special words to find her.

VS: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book?

LeeAnna: I found the most challenging part of writing my book to be getting started with an original idea. It took a few weeks to come up with my idea, to be inspired by something that I wanted to write about. Once I saw the little cut out of the owl, the idea immediately came to me. That was the moment I needed to start.

VS: What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?

LeeAnna: The part that stands out the most is that the main character, who is unsure of himself and his differences, is able to overcome his obstacle and accept himself through the help of his little sister.  Not only does Ollie show that this sometimes difficult task of loving yourself can be done, despite what other people say, but he also shows that your differences can be used for good.

VS: If this is a work of fiction, what character is most like you?

LeeAnna: The character that is most like me is Pip, Ollie’s younger sister. She is sassy and confident. She is also very helpful and looks up to her older sibling. I can relate with her on all of these factors.

VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

LeeAnna: I do not have any works in the progress just yet; however, I plan to create a children’s detective series starring Ollie and Pip.

VS: What do you feel as parents we need to do to help our children see success?

LeeAnna: Although I am not yet a parent, I am a teacher who cares for many children. We can help our children see success by providing them effective opportunities to express themselves. Whether it is through reading, writing, art, or other appropriate ways, our children must learn ways to effectively get their thoughts and feelings out. I think another way to help our children see success is spending time with them and showing them love. Most of the time, children learn by showing. If we show love, they will in turn love the way we do.

VS: Where can the readers of The Writing Mama find out more about and your writing?

You can find out more about LeeAnna Kail, her debut children’s picture book and her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Follow LeeAnna Kail at
Twitter: @LA_Kail

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I remember being in a school play as a second grader. The play was called "When Owl Lost His Hoo." That would have been back in 1967 or so. I don't remember much about it, but as a concept this seems similar.