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Tyler native, children's author to make appearance at local entertainment store

Tyler native, children's author to make appearance at local entertainment store
Katina Chimney
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Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 9:37am

A Tyler native will be making a stop in her hometown to showcase her newest children's book this weekend.

Katina Chimney is a first-time children’s book author who lives in Houston, Texas, and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Chimney is a native of Tyler where she graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1996 and went on to earn an Associate of Arts in Journalism at Tyler Junior College.

She completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Relations degree at the University of Texas in Austin. She also earned a Graduate Marketing Certificate at the University of Phoenix. She has been a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters for the last six years. She loves good food, cool people and her dog, Naila.

She will be doing her signing Saturday, May 24, at Hasting's in Tyler from 2:00 p.m., - 4:00 p.m.

Keilah West: The World's Greatest Klutz

Who is Keilah West?

Keilah West is a loveable character I designed to be someone her young fans can identify with and find encouragement. You know growing up many of us tend not to be proud of our individuality. I wanted Keilah to be different and for kids to know that’s ok. Not only is it alright to be different, it is what makes them and Keilah great.

From dance class to gardening, minor disasters seem to be around every corner for Keilah West. You know after all, life as the “world’s greatest klutz” comes with minor “hiccups.” There is nothing, of course, this spunky, confident girl can’t brush off with help from a band-aide or two. Instead of downplaying her uniqueness, Keilah celebrates it and encourages those around her to do the same.

What is her story?

Minor mishaps and adventure fill Keilah’s quest to find her niche. It’s fair to say, the lovable little girl’s misadventures test the patience of those around her, especially the adults! Despite the bumpy path, high-spirited Keilah does not let her mistakes discourage her, and eventually that determination pays off as she discovers something she can really raise her pinky to, tea. Yes the “world’s greatest klutz” finds out she can also be the “Queen of Tea!”

Where did you get the idea of Keilah West?

She actually came to me in a dream. It was 2004 and I had a dream about a little girl named Keilah. I looked it up in the Bible and discovered “Keilah” is the name of city in Judah. From there, I was inspired to tell her story.
For the next nine years, I worked on developing the character. Finally in 2013, shortly after I lost my father to a long illness, I decided it was time to introduce the adorable Keilah to children all over the world.

Where does the inspiration for her positive message come from?

During my college and early adult years, I’ve had wonderful opportunities to work with children through programs like summer camps, Girl Scouts and Big

Brothers Big Sisters. From those experiences, I realized many of the poor decisions young people make are really related to low self- esteem and that develops very early for kids. So I decided to reach out to elementary aged children, while they are still forming an understanding of themselves. I see Keilah as a kind of super hero for kids. She lets them know they are great, just like they are!

Is this your first book?

This is my first book to be published. I’ve been writing all of my life. I grew up in the small East Texas town of Tyler, in a house with three brothers. As you can imagine, it was always very loud and a little crazy around the house so reading became my refuge. The more I became engrossed in books, the more I was inspired to write. It started with me rewriting my favorite stories, like Cinderella but with different characters and plots. Then I moved to writing my own stories and poetry. Writing was an outlet that I fell in love with very early on and eventually it led me to Keilah.

Is Keilah West based on you?

Not entirely, Keilah West is really a compilation of many little girls I’ve known or admired, even some fictional ones like Punky Brewster, Pippie Lonstonging, and Rudy Huxtable from the Cosby Show. There is really a bit of all us in Keilah West.

What is next for Keilah West?

More adventure awaits Keilah West, the World’s Greatest Klutz. I’ve planned a series of ten to twelve books. Later this year, I hope to see Keilah West and the Accidental Puppy published.

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