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Meet Kathryn Orlando

Hailing from Long Island, New York, Kathryn Orlando is the mother of two, Kara and Rick, and Nana to seven grandchildren, Kalina, Kayla, Christian, Kiara, Wayne Jr., Kaliese, and Benjamin. She has a passion for her family, writing children's books, and writing song lyrics. The Cardinal and the Kitten, Dusty and Kit is her newly released book, but she also coauthored The Magical Adventures of Katinka and Darinka, a whimsical tale of identical twin girls and their amazing imaginary odysseys. To read that interview click the link:

Please share a brief summary of The Cardinal and the Kitten, Dusty and Kit .

The Cardinal and the Kitten, Dusty and Kit is about two loving creatures who are always together in an enchanted meadow. Kit watches her beloved pal Dusty cross over. Dusty's soul soars across the illuminated sky to depict spiritual rebirth. It's a story of love beyond the physical realm. He may never be in her life as he once was, but he will always be her angel. The enchanted meadow represents a place where souls that have crossed over and souls that are still in the mortal world co-exist. It's a magnificent place where the bonds of love are eternal.

What inspired you to write this very poignant book that delves into the delicate subject of death and loss? And what precipitated your choice of a cardinal and a kitten for the main characters in your story?

My Dad's death inspired my book. Since I write children's books, I wanted to help children and really anyone who reads this book to see that we may not be here physically anymore but love lives on forever. After he passed, I would see cardinals everywhere and always associated them with him. One surreal memory was when my granddaughter Kalina and I were sitting inside our home with the door open. A bright red cardinal came right up to the glass door and looked directly at us! We sat there in shock as the cardinal was very intent on us looking at him. Before he flew away, he shook his head three times from left to right. As he ascended upward, we saw a stream of brilliant glowing red go up to the sky! We both sat in amazement. We knew it was a sign of his love. She was only a small child, but that memory is ingrained in our minds.

My Dad was the strongest most loving soul I ever knew. He was my Hero! I wanted to honor him. We were both battling cancer at the same time. He lived long enough to know I was cancer-free. About a month after my surgery he went to Heaven. I was holding his hand just like I did when I was a little girl.

Are Dusty and Kit based on real people?

Yes, my Dad's nickname was Dusty and his nickname for me was Kitten or Kit.

How did you come up with the title?

I just wanted a simple title and decided to add Dusty and Kit to personalize it.

I love the idea of the enchanted meadow. What prompted you to consider this as the setting?

I wanted to depict God's magnificent creations. The flowers. the sun, the sky, the creatures, and everything there is by his design. Any child could imagine frolicking in this beautiful, enchanted meadow.

The vivid illustrations in your book are stunning. How did you find your illustrator? Can you describe the collaboration process? Was it through email, phone conversations, or Zoom?

I found Jose Lopez via the internet. He illustrated The Magical Adventures of Katinka and Darinka. I was so impressed with his talent and felt blessed he would illustrate my book. We collaborated through emails and text messages. I would describe to him exactly how I felt the characters should look even the smallest details. For example, the cardinal has green eyes because my Dad did and the kitten has brown eyes like me. He would send me the characters and then I would fine tune them. Honestly, Jose just had a feel for what I was asking him to illustrate, and this made the process so enjoyable. Though we live on opposite coasts and have never met, together we created something truly special. We will absolutely do another book together.

Were you instrumental in helping to create the depiction of the characters, Dusty and Kit?

I had a vision of what Dusty and Kit should look like and I was instrumental in their creation, but Jose brought them to life. He listened to what I wanted then worked his magic. I look at the cardinal and the kitten and get emotional because I see my Dad and Me. I have so much admiration for his talent.

Seraphina, the sun, is included on your book’s cover and many of the pages. She has very soulful eyes and a soft expression. Did you picture the way this character would look while drafting the story?

I did picture how she would look. Thank you for your description of Seraphina that is exactly how I wanted her to be illustrated. Even the daisies around her have meaning. Seraphina means, " . . . angel of the highest order associated with light, ardor, and purity," and her name also means fiery one. Her angelic light guides and watches over all in the meadow with kindness and love.

This book is a self-published work. Aspiring authors often draft a children’s book or novel then become stymied by the self-publishing process. Please shed some light on how you chose the company you ultimately picked and what services they provided to you.

I have worked with this publisher before and just decided to use them again for convenience. There are so many companies with varying services it's a bit overwhelming choosing. For me the process was not very difficult as I had the book completed, edited, and formatted. I just had to submit it and have minor adjustments made. I didn't use their services for illustrations, editing, and book design, even though it was part of the package. They do offer these services, but I chose to use my own illustrator. I wanted sole ownership of my book. Each company has different policies it is just a matter of what is a better fit for your book.

The hardest part about self-publishing is the promotion of the book.

How long did the process take from conception to holding the book in your hands?

I wrote this story at least 6 years ago. I tabled it to work on another book and in doing so met the perfect illustrator for my book. The process would have been much shorter if I did this book first. Just an aside, the final copyright date was April 13, 2023. The Anniversary of my Dad's Death was April 13th! I couldn't have planned that if I tried.

Please share your best advice for aspiring authors.

My only advice is to make time for your passion especially in this fast-paced world.

Do you have any new books on the horizon?

We have two more books in the series I coauthored, The Magical Adventures of Katinka and Darinka.

I am also working on another book, but it is still in the early stages. I should take my own advice and make time to complete it!

To learn more about Kathryn Orlando or to buy her books, click the links below:

The Magical Adventures of Katinka and Darinka:


Hi. I'm Liz Ambrico, freelance proofreader and aspiring author. I too am querying agents, editors, and publishers in hopes of becoming a published author.



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I co-founded and managed a successful author and writer group on Long Island for five years. During events with publishers and authors I learned what matters, what agents are looking for, and the benefits and pitfalls of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

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