Cathy Kaemmerlen always loved to write stories for puppet shows, plays, and dance performances. From an early age, her two favorite things were writing and performing. “Luckily I found I could do both,” she says.
After Cathy wrote The Buzz on Honeybees, she decided to create a show and portray the book’s main character, Itty Bitty Betty, a bee that collects stories and gossip rather than nectar. “I wrote the show using facts and stories from the book,” Cathy explains. She put together the costumes, gathered some props, and began performing for 4-8-year-olds. “I find it’s very effective to have children fall in love with Itty Bitty Betty. She does more for the reputation of a honeybee than I could ever do,” she says. Unlike wasps and hornets, a honeybee only has one stinger.
As much fun as Cathy had creating the honeybee show, writing the book took two long years of hard work. She first had to reduce the size of her original draft. “This was a difficult but very worthwhile exercise in trimming out all excessive wording and in getting to the essence of my story,” Cathy says. “I learned to have a great respect for children’s writers who are masters of beautiful precision. Never again would I think it’s easy to write a children’s book.”
She also did a lot of research, including spending time with a beekeeper (who raises bees) and a swarming expert (who safely removes bees from unwanted places). “While I write, I write as if I’m already performing the piece,” Cathy says. “If I feel that the character is coming to life, then I can write like crazy. The ideas flow and I don’t stop them. The toughest thing is getting started. The first sentence is the most difficult to write.”
To get published, Cathy says: “It takes grit, determination, hard work, and belief in the value of your writing.”
Find out more about Cathy’s exciting life and how her book came to be on The Studio.