An author’s route to publication is rarely the straight and true. For Ana Maria Rodriguez, it wasn’t until she completed a doctorate in immunology that she realized her dream of writing non-fiction. Recently, Ana Maria stopped by for a visit and we chatted about her quest for adventure, growing up in Venezuela and her new book The Iron Butterfly.
How did your science background lead you to writing for kids?
I have one master and one doctorate degree in biological sciences, specifically Immunology (how living things fight disease). I am passionate about science and the natural world and understanding how they work, how they do what they do, and I love to tell all people interested about it! I enjoy talking to children because they are very curious about the natural world and writing articles and books about nature and science seemed a good way to communicate with my audience.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence you creatively?
I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela and had two major influences that pointed me toward a career in science. First, I had a 4th grade teacher who taught science like a story and organized many experiments for us to do. Secondly, I spent most of my free time outdoors, either in the beach or in the mountain that surrounds the city. During vacation time I had many first-hand experiences exploring Venezuela’s beautiful regions. I traveled to the Andes Mountains, to the rainforest and Angel Falls (the tallest waterfall in the world), as well as the Caribbean coast with its beautiful crystal-clear waters and fascinating fauna. All together, my experiences led me to study Biology to try to understand how the natural world works.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in two main places: in the natural world and talking to people who have amazing stories to tell. You never know when and where you will meet somebody who could inspire a book!
Tell us about your new book THE IRON BUTTERFLY.
The Iron Butterfly is the memoir of Choon-Ok Harmon who is a martial arts master. She lives in Houston where she runs a martial arts school with her husband. She is the highest ranking woman in Kuk Sool Won, a traditional Korean Martial Art. Her personal and professional experiences are extraordinary and for this reason I decided that her story had to be told. As you read The Iron Butterfly, you will get to know this amazing woman as she overcomes tragic personal experiences and perseveres toward her goal for a better life. Check out my blog for more behind the scenes information http://mustknowwomen.blogspot.com/
What’s next for Ana Maria Rodriguez?
I am focused now in two aspects of my work. First, there is the debut of The Iron Butterfly on March 1st. We have many author appearances coming up and I invite everyone to come! I’m also working on research for my next book. I can’t tell you much except that the next book will be “out of this world”!
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Always ask yourself this question: what do I want to write about? Why do I want to write about it? Know what you want to achieve with your writing. Read every day, write every day, and network with other writers and find those that truly inspire you. Happy writing!
Or come meet her and celebrate her new book!
March 5th Katy Budget Books (2450 Fry Rd., Houston, TX 77084), from 11 am to 1 pm.
March 12th Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands (1201 Lake Woodlands Dr., The Woodlands, TX 77380), 1-3 pm.
April 2nd Barnes & Noble, River Oaks, (2030 W Gray St., Houston, TX 77019), from 2-4 pm.
This interview also appeared in the February 2001 edition of the Houston Banner.