Tag: background

A Deep Dive Into Me & My Writing

A Deep Dive Into Me & My Writing

As part of my virtual book tour, I’ve been invited to do a few author interviews that provide potential readers with a deeper perspective on my writing and some background on who I am as a person.

Being open and vulnerable has never been an easy thing for me to do but I’m happy to embrace this new opportunity for personal growth and development as I live out my dream of sharing my book Eating These Foods Makes Me… with the world!

Here are my top 10 Author Q&A :

  1. What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

I was inspired to write this book by my 2-year-old daughter, a picky eater who has faced many feeding/nutrition challenges since being born very prematurely. Back then, I would spend my days and nights in the NICU singing, praying, and reading to her, and this sparked my dream to write my own children’s book. Also, after searching for a nutrition-related children’s book that encompassed the values and concepts I wanted to share with my daughter, I noticed there weren’t many available, and since I’m a practicing registered dietitian I figured what better way to share my passion for nutrition than to fulfill that need and write a credible nutrition book for kids.

Dynasty a few days old in the NICU incubator
  1. How did you come up with your idea for your book?

As a clinical nutritionist who works with an adult population, I see firsthand how many of the health issues people face – from self-esteem and mental health challenges to chronic diseases- could be prevented or at least reduced if they had some prior nutrition-related knowledge and developed healthy eating habits earlier in life. I also know that food is so much more than just the basic nutrition it provides. The foods we eat are tied to our family traditions, our values, and our identity, they significantly impact not only our physical but mental wellbeing.

So I knew this book would have many layers. I wanted to take a complicated intimidating subject that even adults struggle with and simplify it so that a young child could learn the basic foundation of nutrition without overloading them with too much detail. I knew from the beginning I would include practical examples with real photo images so, young kids, could practice their vocabulary and develop their ability to identify different foods and how they’re connected via the role key nutrients play in the body. At the same time, it was an opportunity to make a real impact by introducing crucial nutrition concepts that I feel could be life-changing if grasped at a young age, such as nutritional mindfulness.

  1. What elements are necessary components for this genre?

I believe a great children’s non-fiction book should have 3 key elements; it should be informative, entertaining and inspirational. Eating These Foods Makes Me… provides a great basis for food/nutrition intelligence at a young age, and plants the seed for leading a healthy lifestyle. It’s perfect for picky eaters because the real photo images expose them to different kinds of foods and allow them to explore in a safe and fun way via the characters and illustrations in the book, while the bonus activity pages offer even more interactive ideas to consolidate their learning. Last but not least the repeated positive affirmations are empowering and aim to inspire a healthy relationship with food. The gender and culturally diverse representation of characters, even those with special needs such as those having physical or “hidden” disabilities such as ADHD, aim to broaden the reader’s view of the world- something all non-fiction books should strive to accomplish, such that readers of different backgrounds and experiences can also recognize themselves within the pages of the book.

  1. What expertise did you bring to your writing?

As a currently practicing registered dietitian I’ve obtained a bachelor’s degree in nutritional biochemistry as well as a master’s degree in human nutrition and dietetics, and I’m currently a practicing registered dietitian so my passion for nutrition is a huge component. But, I also rely on my personal life experiences as a parent to truly connect with my readers.

  1. What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

The characters in my book represent children of various racial, ethnic and social demographics. It also celebrates those who identify with equity deserving groups. For example, Eating These Foods Makes Me… includes illustrations of characters with a physical disability as well as one with a “hidden” challenge such as ADHD. There is a persistent problem in children’s literature, and that is a lack of diversity. Furthermore, misrepresentation of underrepresented communities.  I believe that reading books can be a powerful means of self-affirmation and seeing someone who looks like you doing things, in turn, plants the idea of that possibly being you someday. I owe it to the people whom I based my characters on to be validated, empowered and feel a sense of belonging as they read the pages of my book.

  1. Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

Reading has always been one of my favourite pastimes, however, I would say after my daughter was born, my passion for children’s books in particular skyrocketed. In the NICU we were encouraged to read storybooks to her and the bond this created has resulted in a deep-rooted love for children’s books/reading and now writing. Back then, I would spend my days and nights in the NICU singing, praying, and reading to her, and this sparked my dream to write my own children’s book someday. Also, after searching for a nutrition-related children’s book that encompassed the values and concepts I wanted to share with my daughter, I noticed there weren’t many available, and since I’m a practicing registered dietitian I figured what better way to share my passion for nutrition than to fulfill that need and write a credible nutrition book for kids.

  1. What would you want your readers to know about you that might not be in your bio?

I am a self-declared personal development enthusiast! I love listening to anything or anyone motivational. As a toddler mom, I barely have time to sit and read for fun anymore so my favourite thing at the moment is listening to audiobooks, it’s become part of my daily morning routine on my way to work

 

  1. What is the first book that made you cry?

One book I connect with on so many levels is the children’s book “When I Pray for You” by Matthew Paul Turner. It is beautifully written and illustrated. It makes me emotional almost every time I read it with my family because it is as though Turner has taken what’s in my heart and expressed it on paper. It brings me back to the times I would pray many of the same prayers expressed in this book as I sat and watched my daughter lay -so small and fragile- in the incubator of the NICU.  I long with everything in me to be able to watch her grow and experience the world. “When I Pray for you” truly captures my dreams, hopes and love as a parent.

  1. How do you maintain your creativity?

I think my creativity is maintained by a synergy of prayer, meditation, journaling and reading.  I also like to push myself to do things that are outside of my comfort zone, and this develops my abilities to be adaptable and rely on my creativity.

  1. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?

I have a deep desire to write another children’s book in the future, I have so many great ideas it’s just a matter of putting them down on paper.

Kalifa Rodriguez M.Sc, RD, CBS
Author of Eating These Foods Makes Me…​

p.s. Let’s connect on social media! You can follow my FB page Kalifa Rodriguez Books or IG @the.nutrition.connection and for more health-related videos check out my YouTube Channel. Want to share this blog post with a friend? Simply copy this URL and send it to them!