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Katrina KusaI met 13-year-old Katrina with her proud parents, Joe and Luba Kusa, at a Florida Authors and Publishers Association awards luncheon. She’s been propelled by a sense of purpose since she turned her playroom into a library at 8 years old! Katrina makes many of us wonder why we didn’t begin our writing careers decades earlier…

Tell me about your background. Where you grew up. Where you live now. Education. Work Experience. Share some things about yourself. Something to know about.

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts. After kindergarten, my family moved to Naples, Florida, where I attended Royal Palm Academy. My family and I have three furry friends, Max, Penni, and Jacque Bleu (two Boston Terriers and a French Bulldog). They are a very big part of our family and we try to take them everywhere, especially when we are traveling up and down the east coast during my school breaks and holidays.

What inspired you to write this book. What is the story behind this story?

As long as I could remember, I loved to create magical stories, playing with dolls and Littlest Pet Shop toys. And when I learned to read at an early age, I became obsessed with books.

When I turned eight years old, I watched a movie called “Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events” which inspired me to write my first short tale, Strange Happenings. Since that day, I have become closer to writing my own original stories. At 10 years old I wrote my first published story, The Kingdom of the Lizards, which won two bronze medals in the FAPA President’s Books Award Program, a national competition.

Living in Florida, there are lizards everywhere and I sometimes saw beautiful black-colored lizards. Also, I observed and recognized that a bit of bullying that was going on at school. I gathered my thoughts together and wrote a story that was half reality and fantasy which later became a magical piece of literature for all ages to read.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle.

As a 13-year-old, I have a lot of challenges! First and foremost is studying all my academics to achieve good grades while balancing my household duties. But as an author, time is my biggest challenge. I want to write more stories to show more meaning to the world that everyone can follow
I am now looking for a publisher for my next two books, “There Once was a Cat” and “The Girl in the White Dress.” I am so excited to get these books published as quickly as possible. I have a wonderful artist, Pavel Kulsha, who illustrated “The Kingdom of the Lizards” and he has also done the illustrations for my new books.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment and success.

When I Entered the 2017 FAPA President’s Book Award Contest, I had no idea of the honor that would come with winning. I received two Bronze Medals for “The Kingdom of the Lizards” in the category of juvenile fiction, both for the State of Florida and the overall National Award.
Then in October 2017 I submitted a short story to be considered for this year’s “Young Writers” creative writing contest, Spine-Chillers – Spooky Sagas. The Contest was organized through school for children ages 11-18. I never told my parents I was entering the contest until I found out that I was a finalist. I wrote a short story (just 100 words) that incorporates atmosphere, tension and suspense. There were over 4,500 entries and from these the publisher produced a collection of special anthologies. I was so excited to hear that I was a finalist. The name of my story is “The World Beyond US.” The anthology was released on Feb. 28, and will be submitted to the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. as well as the British Library in London, U.K. The two libraries are the largest and second largest libraries in the world in terms of catalogued volumes.

What author do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence in you and your writing.

As a book lover, I love to read books from all different genres and authors. Here are some of my favorite authors: Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Hans Christian Andersen. Along with having beautiful works of literature from these amazing authors, there are a few stories that are astounding to me, too. The examples are: Sherlock Holmes, Tom Sawyer, and especially the magic of The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen. With these amazing stories, I can get put my writing to the next level that will help me in the future.

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals.

For the lack of time because I am a student (and someone who does a lot of activities,) I don’t write every single day. But I do write thoughts that I get from my deepest temples into a notebook for future ideas of books and characters. If I have a few hours for myself, I go to my room, shut the door, and travel into the magical world of literature.

What are you interested outside of writing?

I love to spend time with my family and my three dogs, especially during traveling. I love to invite my friends over to my house and do funny and weird things with them. Besides writing, I love to compose my own music and songs and play the piano. I also like fencing and western-style horseback riding.

Share some tips for other authors or aspiring authors. Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.

Every author has a different style and he or she writes in their own way. I wouldn’t try to copy any famous author or try to follow his style to write. All I can say is I would just go with my gut and believe in myself.
I would like to share my thoughts that all authors can benefit from. If you just have your momentum, don’t stop writing. Don’t worry about mistakes or wording, you can always edit it later. After a long writing spurt, take a little break to clear your thoughts and read your story out loud. Hearing your story out loud makes mistakes glaringly obvious. My favorite advice is to believe in what you’re writing. Live in your story, love your characters, no matter if they are good or bad. I wish the best for your writings ahead!


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