The Great Katie Kate Author Speaks
Douglas Cobb: Dr. DeLand is the author of the children’s book The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma, as well as being the parent of a daughter who has asthma, and a radiation oncologist specializing in the treatment of women and children.
Thanks for doing this interview with me, Dr. DeLand, so that the readers of The Guardian Liberty Voice will learn more about asthma, how it affects children and adults, and more about the dangers of cold weather asthma attacks — attacks which can be terrifying for any young child to experience.
First of all, Dr. DeLand, would you please tell our readers what asthma is, how long you’ve been a doctor, and what some of the causes and of asthma are, as well as mention ways to treat asthma attacks?
Dr. DeLand: Asthma is a chronic, or long-term, disease that inflames and narrows the airways of your lungs. Asthma causes a variety of symptoms that can worsen at any time, making breathing difficult. Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma.
The main components of asthma are inflammation and constriction. Both components affect the airways of your lungs, making it more difficult for you to breathe. When you are exposed to a trigger, you may feel changes in your airways. At the same time, there may be changes to your airways that you don’t feel. The more severe the inflammation and constriction get, and the longer they go untreated, the worse your asthma symptoms may be and the harder they may be to control. That’s why it’s so important to work closely with your healthcare provider in managing your asthma.
There are many types of asthma medications. Some medications reduce inflammation that causes asthma symptoms, while some relax the muscles around the airways to help relieve airway constriction. Some medicines are taken daily on a long-term basis or for as long as your healthcare provider deems necessary, while other medications are taken as needed for the quick relief of sudden, severe asthma symptoms or during periods of worsening asthma.
Douglas Cobb: Asthma is an ailment which you know quite a bit about, as you have a daughter who has it, right? How old was your daughter when you realized she had asthma, and could you please tell our readers how her asthma influenced you to write The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma?
Dr. DeLand: My daughter Claire was 3 when she was hospitalized for pneumonia, shortness of breath and subsequently lost weight. At that point she was diagnosed with severe allergies and asthma at age 3. It sort of crept up on me because I thought she was getting respiratory infections from playmates at school. I thought she was just a fragile child.
Her illness influenced me to write because I thought many people did not realize that it could be a life threatening problem and a chronic illness. Both child and parent need to get a grasp on that fact and use preventative measures when possible and know how to treat it appropriately and on a regular basis. Maintenance is just as important as appropriate response during emergency situations.
Douglas Cobb: What age and/or grade levels is your book meant for, Dr. DeLand, how long is it, and is it illustrated?
Dr. DeLand: All of my books are intended for children who are in preschool through elementary school. The Great Katie Kate Answers Questions About Asthma is 30 pages long and it has colorful images that peek a child’s curiosity.
Douglas Cobb: Most people who have allergies can imagine, to a degree, how difficult asthma sufferers have it during spring, when pollen starts to get blown all over the place by the wind. But, not as many people know that winter weather can pose dangers and cause cold weather asthma attacks.
Would you please differentiate between these two seasons, and the dangers that each pose to children and adults who have asthma?
Dr. DeLand: In the Winter extreme cold air can trigger an asthma attack, smoke from a fireplace can trigger an asthma attack, as well as any upper respiratory infections, pneumonia or cold like symptoms, ie: cough, sputum runny nose, sore throat. The other thing is that when it is cold outside we are indoors more, the windows are shut and the heat is on, which increases exposure to pet dander, dust mites, and any viruses brought in by friends or neighbors.
In the Spring, what some people call “hay fever” is actually an allergic reaction to grasses and pollens that triggers asthma. Extreme heat, high humidity, air pollution and mold can trigger symptoms of asthma. Strong odors such as cleaning products and gas stoves can trigger an attack. Exercise can also induce an asthma attack.
Reactions are the same for both seasons, though the causes are different.
Douglas Cobb: Why did you decide to call your main character “Katie Kate” and is someone asking her questions about asthma, which she then answers; or, does she possibly decide to write a book answering questions which she thinks people might like to know the answers to? How old is Katie Kate?
Dr. DeLand: Katie Kate is a young elementary-age child who becomes best friends with children who have been diagnosed with somewhat scary illnesses. She helps explain the nature and treatment of allergies and asthma to young kids and answers their questions to help them breathe a sigh of relief.
Douglas Cobb: Dr. DeLand, The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma is one of a series of books you’ve written which feature Katie Kate as the main character. What are the other ones, and do you have plans to write more in the series?
Dr. DeLand: That’s right! The books in the series so far are The Great Katie Kate Dicusses Diabetes, The Great KK Tackles Questions about Cancer, and The Great Katie Kate Explains Epilepsy. I absolutely plan to write more for the Katie Kate series.
Douglas Cobb: The “Katie Kate” series isn’t the only series you’ve written specifically for children. You’ve also written the “Baby Santa” series and the “Busy Bees” series. Would you please let our readers know more about each of these series, also?
Dr. DeLand: That’s correct. In the Baby Santa series Santa has to get the help of his son, baby Santa, to avoid disaster at the North Pole. Baby Santa travels around the world, finds a sack of lost letters, and helps find a missing reindeer.
In the Busy Bees series Bambina Bee and her mother explore the importance of work and play in the first book, while Bambina and her grandmother learn to appreciate the many different aspects of the world of theater and performance.
Douglas Cobb: Where do you get your inspiration from, and how long does it usually take you to write a book? Also, what books have been big influences on you?
Dr. DeLand: I get my inspiration from my own children, the children I treat, other patients, and my friends. It usually takes about a year for me to write a book from start to finish. The biggest influences I get from books are 18th Century British Literature, Richard Scarry books, A Child’s Garden of Verses, Dr. Suess, Raul Dahl, and Shel Silverstein.
Douglas Cobb: Dr. DeLand, besides writing literature for children and being a radiation oncologist, you serve as a member of the BreastCancer.org. Professional Advisory Board. What are some of the responsibilities which being a board member entail?
Dr. DeLand: My main responsibilities in this position are evaluation of any new treatment for breast cancer and studies that have been performed. I’m tasked with differentiating between what is fact and what has been scientifically proven versus unproven literature.
Douglas Cobb: Are you currently working on another book for children, Dr. DeLand? If so, do you have a title yet, and could you please mention what it will be about?
Dr. DeLand: Yes, I have several that I have been thinking about. The Great Katie Kate: Eat Right and Move for healthy diet and exercise and The Great Katie Kate: The Case of the Missing Manners. It is an honor for me to be working with the NIH on a book for TrialNet, which is the international study to prevent Type 1 Diabetes and this book will be out later this year. It is very dear to my heart, if it could help prevent diabetes in children, I would feel like my life is worthwhile.
Douglas Cobb: Thanks very much for agreeing to let me interview you, Dr. DeLand, and for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions!
Written by: Douglas Cobb
Buy The Great Katie Kate books and others which Dr, M. Maitland DeLand has published at Amazon by clicking here.