Kathy Aneziris is a first-time children’s author who I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past 12 months. Now, we celebrate the launch of her debut picture book, Georgia’s Allergy. To learn more about Kathy and her journey, we sat down to chat and celebrate the launch.
MIRIAM LAUNDRY: Hi, Kathy! Congratulations on publishing your first picture book. Can you tell us who this book is for?
KATHY ANEZIRIS: Georgia’s Allergy is for children in the primary grades, but it can also be for older children too.
ML: And how did you start writing this book?
KA: I started writing this book shortly after completing your Children’s Book Masterclass in the summer of 2022. I wanted to write a book for children to raise awareness for food allergies and anaphylaxis.
As an allergy mom, I know first-hand the challenges that children with food allergies face daily, and I wanted to write a book that would shed some light on food allergies and anaphylaxis. A lot of the time children with allergies are reminded of all the things they can’t do or can’t eat, or sometimes they even miss out on social events because of their food allergy – so at an early age I tried to instil in my own son, self-advocacy skills by encouraging him to speak up for himself – which is what we see the main character in Georgia’s Allergy do.
In my story, Georgia is allergic to peanuts and must carry an epipen with her – it also happens to be Georgia’s first day at a new school and so of course she worries that no one will like her and that she may even get made fun of because of her food allergy. We really see Georgia face her challenge head on – we see her stand up to the class bully and this is a very important skill for children with food allergies. A very important skill for all children but extra important for children with food allergies.
ML: You mentioned that you are an allergy mom yourself and that you wrote this book to encourage children, like your son, who have severe allergies. Why else was this message important to you?
KA: I felt that it was important to write this book because I want children with food allergies to know that they are so much more than their allergy, and that they can do it all; in spite of their food allergies, they can have it all and have a great life.
I also wanted to send the message to children without food allergies because they also want to help. A lot of the time you will see children without food allergies really look out for their friends with food allergies and become a second set of eyes, similar to Georgia in my book and the new friends she makes on her first day of school.
ML: What was the biggest challenge you faced while publishing?KA: Patience – I was so eager to just get my story completed that I needed to constantly remind myself that it was a process that it would come together one step at a time.
ML: Do you have a memorable moment to share about your experience as you worked on the book?
KA: I remember coming back from a flight from Mexico one year with my family and the flight attendant had made an announcement on my son’s behalf regarding his food allergy, and so during that flight I was half asleep when I was awoken by a man that wanted to ask me if it was okay if him and his family could use the hand cream that they had been using at our all-inclusive hotel – and so I knew which hand cream he was speaking of because we had the same hand cream in our hotel room.
And so as I proceeded to tell him that yes it was fine and that I knew which cream he was speaking about, at that moment when I was speaking to him I looked back at his family and I could see his family was waiting for my response. I remember thinking how nice this family was that they really just wanted to help, and that is what I find with most people is that most people really just want to help.
ML: It’s wonderful when we look out for each other like that. It truly does make a big difference. Speaking of, it was so wonderful working with you in Publishing Mastermind. Did you find the program valuable? What made you decide to join in the first place?
KA: I knew that by working in a group the whole process of working on my book and getting to the finish line would be so much faster rather than working on my own. It takes a village.
I really enjoyed the meetings, and I had an excellent group. I also enjoyed my zoom meetings with my author coach. Being a retired teacher, Maggie had so much valuable information for me. I really appreciate all her help.
ML: I’m so glad Publishing Mastermind could help you in that way. Now a published author, if you could share one piece of advice with an aspiring author, what would it be?
KA: Trust the process. In the end it all comes together; in the beginning it feels like a puzzle and that you are just putting pieces together and hoping that it comes together, and it sure does. In the end the result is more than what I could have hoped for.
My message is if you want to write a children’s book and you have a message you want people to hear, go for it. Write the book. You will be happy you did it.
ML: Lastly, what do you hope parents and children take away from your book?
KA: My book is an excellent resource for teachers, parents and librarians. It is a great tool to use to start the conversation about food allergies and to introduce the term anaphylaxis.
ML: Thank you, Kathy, and congratulations again on publishing your first picture book.
Watch the Full Interview:
Kathy and her husband live in southern Ontario with their two sons and their dog, Buddy. Kathy enjoys writing children’s books. She is dedicated to raising awareness of food allergies and is a proud supporter of the many research initiatives that currently share the same mission. Her hope is that this book will help children facing food allergies feel seen and heard. She also hopes this book can help children without food allergies understand how to be supportive and empathetic towards their friends with food allergies.