Carol Lawrence and Stacy Toten: What made you pick a blind child for your main character? Do you have experience working with the blind?
Kathy Parra: When I was in sixth grade the teacher asked if anyone wanted to assist with the special needs students, I raised my hand and said, “Pick me!” I was paired up with many children but one in particular who we will call Willow, Willow explained to me that she had been blind since birth, each day I went in there to assist her with her Braille reading, which I might add she so wanted me to learn, but I never did. She would sit flitting her tiny fingers over the bumps in the thin translucent paper at rapid speed and I would pencil scratch my stories just at furiously, one day she asked me “what are you writing?” I told her I like to write stories about nature, she asked me to read them to her, she would delight in my story making and I would delight in her listening, we spent many a lunch hour eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as I read my nature stories.
One day out of the blue Willow took out her pear from her lunch bag, and said “I wish I knew what my pear looked like” “Kathy” she asked “what does a pear look like?” I started with well it’s green on the outside; she said, “what does green look like?” I knew then and there I was to take her in nature to share what the pear looked like, so I took her under a beautiful mulberry tree on the schoolyard as she stood under the tree I took her hand and let her feel the green leaves I said these are leaves and they are green and it is the same color as the outside of the pear, she said oh it is smooth-warm, then I ran her hand over the branch to which would be the sense of the stem of the pear, I said this is the stem and it is a brownish green, oh she said this too feels smooth yet strong, yes-yes! I was excited that she was associating the feel-sense of what I was sharing in a feeling sense, putting feelings to the colors, then I took her to the sand box and ran her fingers through the sand, I said the inside of the pear, it a soft white color yet as you bite into the pear there is just a bit of grit, she ran her fingers through the sand, then taking a bite of pear, she said oh it feels like life, like it has energy, when I feel the sand and then bite the pear I feel life-energy! Needless to say Willow quickly began to associate most everything in her daily life with a feeling for a color, she even made up her own colors! Willow often told me I was like a lot of colors put together, saying that all those colors were love. In that short amount of time that we spent together I was grateful for her friendship and she for mine, I think we both knew it was transient and as they say a reason- season or a lifetime. I had never had “experience” with blind children, but since then as an adult have assisted with Special Olympics only one other time.
Carol Lawrence and Stacy Toten: Do you have any children and were they an inspiration for your book?
Carol Lawrence and Stacy Toten: How long did it take you to write Love is the Color of a Rainbow?
Carol Lawrence and Stacy Toten: Any advice for other children's authors?
Carol Lawrence and Stacy Toten: Are there special ways you take care of Mother Earth?
Carol Lawrence and Stacy Toten: How did you meet your illustrator Candace Keach?
Kathy Parra: To always look through the eyes of a child for when you do this, thus this is what you shall see.
“When we look through the eyes of a child the world becomes what it always is and has been, Love”.-Kathy Parra
Find out more about Kathy Parra at http://www.kathyparra.com/