Thursday, November 10, 2022

Q&A with Judith L. Roth




Judith L. Roth is the author of the new children's picture book Cadence and Kittenfish: A Mermaid Tale. Her other books include Hiding Baby Moses.


Q: What inspired you to write Cadence and Kittenfish?


A: If I remember right, I was searching for a story that expressed the pain of wanting to have a pet but not being able to have one. The original thought was of a kid who lived in an apartment, and the only pet they could sort of own was by putting a goldfish in the apartment complex's fountain. A mermaid and a kitten seemed like the most difficult situation for that sort of story.


My MG novel, Serendipity & Me, is also about wanting a kitten and not being able to have one. Apparently that's a theme of mine, even though my parents let me and my sisters have all sorts of pets. Maybe the recurring theme is because of the one beloved stray kitten that slipped out of my grasp.


Q: What do you think Jaclyn Sinquett's illustrations add to the story?


A: Oh, her use of color and fun add hugely to the story! She really captured Cadence and the tone I was going for. Her special touches make the story even livelier, even sweeter.


Q: Did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: In general, I tend to be a pantser...I just start writing and see how things come along. This story went through a lot of drafts over many years. Some of the changes evolved from suggestions from editors. I changed the tone of the story a lot after I let it sit for a while and realized Cadence had become too sad and whiny after incorporating suggestions.


As far as how the story ends, the sea otter was always there from the beginning.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: The three main takeaways I'm hoping for are:


—Just because you fall in love with an animal doesn't mean you're the right home for that cutie-pie.

—If you're too focused on one thing, you might miss something better for you that's right under your nose.

—Don't be discouraged when what you desire doesn't happen. “When one door closes, another opens.” (Alexander Graham Bell)


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I'm revising some MG novels I can't give up on. I'm using things I've learned to make them better, I hope! I'm also working on some picture books and new ideas. I'm doing a lot of jumping around from one project to another, at the moment. And I'm trying to find another agent.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: If you want to see my adorable cats, you can find posts and reels of them on Instagram under judith.l.roth. One is a ginger cat like the kitten in Cadence and Kittenfish! Trivia fact: the kitten is not named in the book, but out-of-frame, Cadence names her Hurricane. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb


  1. Nice interview! Thanks for featuring this fun book and Judy.

    1. Thanks so much--I'm really glad we could do this interview!