Conversation with Judith L. Roth

By Emily Mellentine, Kristin Fuhs Wells Communications Intern

We recently spoke with Children’s book author Judith L. Roth, who wrote Cadence and Kittenfish: A Mermaid Tale and Hiding Baby Moses. Click here to visit Roth’s website. 

Your background includes a bachelor’s degree in English and music. How has your musical education influenced your writing, particularly in the context of writing children’s books and poetry? 

Rhythm and sound. My English degree had an emphasis in creative writing, and I’ve found the combination of that with music very helpful. Poetry is music with words, so what could be a better match? I always want my words to sing – especially when writing for children. 

It took 25 years from your first submission to the acceptance of your first fiction piece. Can you share some insights into your journey as an author and the perseverance it took to achieve your dream of writing fiction for children? 

It helped to keep going by having some other publishing successes along the way, and support from others. From the beginning, I was able to get several poems published in magazines, then curriculum, then songs for children. Writers and non-writers encouraged my writing, and my husband also supported me financially. Mainly, I’m truly driven because I feel like this is what I’m called to do. 

As a third-generation California native living in Indiana, how has your environment and life experience influenced your writing and the stories you choose to tell? 

Having a long-lived experience in two very different parts of the country gives me a different perspective and an appreciation for different habitats and cultures. Most of my books have some relation to water, and that comes both from the Southern California ocean and the northern Indiana rivers, which are both part of my heart. 

Do you have a writing community here or a special place you go to write? 

I have a writing community I found through SCBWI [Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators]. We usually interact now through the internet, but I also get together with them at writing retreats, conferences and one on one. They are very special friends. 

What kind of message or lesson do you hope young readers will take away from Cadence and Kittenfish: A Mermaid Tale

The main message is about perseverance. Just because your dream isn’t working out doesn’t mean you should give up on it. It might mean you need to open yourself up to other possibilities that are just as fulfilling, but you hadn’t thought of them yet. And don’t miss out on the treasures right below your nose. 

What advice do you have for aspiring authors, especially those who dream of writing for children? 

Read a lot in your chosen genres. Join SCBWI and take advantage of all the learning opportunities there. Write because you have to, not because you think you’ll earn a living. 

Are there any upcoming projects or books you’re working on that you can give us a sneak peek into? 

My favorite project right now is a rhyming picture book manuscript that’s set at the beach. I’m desperate for it to become a real book because I think it’s special. Hoping that dream comes true!