We are doing something different this week. Instead of interviewing a cat blogger or a cat with a social media presence, we would like to introduce you to a new writer of children’s books that feature animal stories with a life lesson. The first book of the series is about … what else! … a cat.
FFF: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Jaimi: Hi, my name is Jaimi Ilama (an acronym I use that stands for I Love All My Animals). I have eleven animals right now in my home. Three cats, two dogs, and seven turtles. Three of the turtles are lucky enough to live outside due to the beautiful Southern California weather. However, on chilly nights I have to bring in Yertle our 19-year-old leopard tortoise, so he can stay warm.
I have written a series of children’s picture books called Rescue Me. There are five stories in all, and they all have an animal as the main character. The books are made to help parents and teachers talk to kids about “life struggles” that both humans and animals go through sometime in their life. The themes that are discussed are facing fears and change, abandonment, prejudice, homelessness and saying goodbye to a loved one. Although some may regard this as inappropriate for kids, the stories are compelling, optimistic and empowering from beginning to end. They are age-appropriate and are told from the animal’s prospective. And, they are semi-autobiographical and come directly from experiences that both my animals (all rescues) and I have been through and the lessons we learned.
FFF: You have just released “The Upstairs Cat”. Is it true there is a real upstairs cat named Amazon?
Jaimi: Yes, I have just released the first book of the Rescue Me series called “The Upstairs Cat”. It is about “Amazon” the real upstairs cat and how she deals with being alone in the upstairs room she had always shared with her “favorite” boy. Once he left and went away to college her world turned to black and white until she was brave enough to go outside the door of her room. Once outside the room she finds loving humans and animals throughout the house and the color came back in her world. Amazon’s photograph and story are on the back cover of the book.
FFF: How long have you been writing? Is this your first book?
Jaimi: I have been writing ever since I can remember. I started when I was about 8-years-old. At that time I wrote poems and limericks. In my 20’s I even had one of my poems published, but it was an anthology of many authors and honestly don’t even know where it can be found. At around that time, I also wrote a children’s Sci-Fi novella about a group of young friends who went on an adventure to find a “legendary” wizard without the permission of their elders. It is called “The Legend of Cabalista” and sits in my computer’s database awaiting attention, which makes “The Upstairs Cat” my first published book and I am very excited about it!
FFF: What prompted you to write a children’s book — a personal experience, a desire to entertain or to educate?
Jaimi: Though it was my husband who suggested that I publish the stories, it was my animals who fueled my passion. Throughout my life I have endured many obstacles, but never realized the importance of sharing those stories with anyone but those close to me. Yet, when I watched my animals go through their own difficulties, it compelled me to tell the stories of the courage and the challenges and obstacles they had to face. While writing I discovered the similarities we all share both human and animal and the importance of teaching the youngest of readers how they can help change the way the world views challenges by being the voice of the voiceless (animals) or those who have lost it along the way (humans).
It is my goal to educate as many children as possible, and hopefully some adults that will also read these stories, to have a clearer understanding of how bad things can happen to good people and animals. I dedicate myself to raising awareness of certain issues and discussing them with children by opening dialogue and giving them the knowledge that they can change lives and make the world a kinder more compassionate place. And hopefully they will take the lessons they learn and share them with others. Every story in the Rescue Me series teaches the importance of being open-minded, accepting, tolerant, and giving. Just imagine what a world like that would do to both humans and animals.
FFF: This will be the first book of a series. Have you already written all of them and they will be published as there are sufficient funds, or are the other books currently being written in your head?
Jaimi: All the stories are written and just need some tweaks here and there. The second book “A Pup’s Tale” is about a Border Collie who was returned to the rescue three times until he found his fourth and forever home. He takes you with him on his journey and shares his experiences and the friends he makes along the way. I am hopeful that the sales from “The Upstairs Cat” will allow me the financial abundance to print the rest of the series.
FFF: We understand you will be donating a portion of all proceeds to a charity related to the particular subject of each book.
Jaimi: These books are published by Open Door Publishing, a nonprofit which I own. This allows me full access and control so that I can ensure that the money goes directly to rescues/shelters and sanctuaries that I have chosen specifically for the theme and that have either saved the life of one of my rescued animals or have affected me in some way for the wonderful work they do. Just go to Open Door Publishing and click on the charities door to find out more about these incredible nonprofits.
FFF: You also have a blog as a part of the Open Door Publishing website. Will you be using the blog to keep readers up to date on the progress of the book and of the series?
Jaimi: Yes, we do have a blog on our website and will be keeping it updated for all our readers. We will let them know about new releases, contests, events, and keep them updated about the progress of the Rescue Me series. We are also working on “author” packages so anyone ages 5-105 can be published and have their book, song, essay or poem in print. The only requirement is that write about something that educates and gives back to their community. They can pick their favorite charity/animal shelter/homeless shelter/food bank/nonprofit and give a portion of their sales to them. We also have a waiver for children 18 and under linked to our site that their parents must sign when applicable.
FFF: Do you have any social media links you would like to include?
Jaimi: Our social media links are www.facebook.com/opendoorpublishing and twitter.com/opendoorpublish. We are still working on creating a bigger social media presence and will blog about it once we have more links. Please bear with us when going to all the sites as we are in the process of reconstructing our sites to be more viewer “friendly”.
FFF: For any readers who might like to purchase a copy of the book for a child, what age group would it be appropriate for?
Jaimi: My target audience is 1-12 since it is a picture book. However, all ages will get something from it. And in fact, it touches the adults most deeply because we know what it is like to face fears and deal with change!
FFF: The book is available at Open Door Publishing, as well as Amazon.com and it is coming soon to barnesandnoble.com.