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Unexpected Perspective: An Interview with Tamara Anderson, author of Yikes, I Saw a Barracuda!

Tamara Anderson 1

Tamara Anderson is a pediatric speech language pathologist, education specialist, and consultant with a passion for language and literacy. From an early age, she was captivated by stories, especially those that were set in various places around the world. She is originally from Saint Andrew, Jamaica and lived in Miami, Florida for many years. She now resides in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and successfully earned her B.A. in Communication Studies and an M.S. in Speech & Hearing Sciences. Her desire to improve the literacy skills in children with language disorders and learning disabilities led her to complete further studies. She earned a Reading Endorsement from Georgia State University in Atlanta and an Education Specialist or Ed.S. degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Piedmont College. Tamara purposefully uses children’s literature during speech/language therapy sessions to improve the communication, language, and literacy skills of children receiving special education services. She desires for all families to meaningfully use her stories to foster a love for reading. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, attending cultural arts events, going to the beach, and traveling.

You can buy Yikes, I Saw a Barracuda! here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Since the book is a realistic fiction story, the title was selected based on a kid-friendly response that I child may say when encountering a new and unexpected sea creature when snorkeling. The title is intriguing and evokes emotion in English, Yikes, I Saw a Barracuda!, and the Spanish version, Dios Mio Vi Una Barracuda!

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I was excited to see that my illustrator captured the emotion of the main character Alexandra at a pivotal part of the story.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I have always enjoyed the creative outlet of writing from journaling my thoughts, taking notes as a student, writing notes from my pastor’s sermons, blogging on my speech/language therapy website, and writing creative fictional pieces.

I am inspired by stories that highlight diverse cultures around the world and depict unique narratives in different countries. Reading these captivating stories and watching historical films and motion pictures expand my worldview and allow me to see and understand various perspectives.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I work primarily as a pediatric speech/language pathologist with children and adolescents with language disorders, learning differences, dyslexia, ADHD, and autism. Many of them have difficulty learning to read. When I provide therapeutic multi-sensory and individualized speech/language therapy, they are able to make functional gains in their language, literacy, and academic skills. I am glad that I am able to give them the gift of communication and strategies to build reading skills. This allows children with disabilities the ABILITY to succeed in life with their own purpose. Many of them are talented in the arts with music, drawing, and dance. They are truly well-rounded individuals.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

One of the most rewarding parts of publishing my books in English and Spanish was collaborating with Jamaican illustrator, Rachel Moss. She was able to creatively and beautifully bring my story to life.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I desire for readers to enjoy the story and stay connected with Anderson Multicultural Books for future books in the series so they can build their diverse literature collection.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am currently working on another children’s book featuring the Edwards family who will travel to a new destination.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

The staff at Atmosphere Press are professional, responsive to questions, and desire to have quality publications. Other authors should just begin their writing process. A great book starts with a single idea that can be developed into an amazing story to share with the world. Everyone’s voice matters! What’s your story?

You can buy Yikes, I Saw a Barracuda! here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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