I’m pleased to welcome Katie Mazeika to the blog today––she’s a long-time Storystormer and now she’s here to reveal the cover of her debut as an author-illustrator: ANNETTE FEELS FREE: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-life Mermaid. Take it away, Katie!

Thank you, Tara, for hosting the cover reveal of ANNETTE FEELS FREE: THE TRUE STORY OF ANNETTE KELLERMAN, WORLD-CLASS SWIMMER, FASHION PIONEER, AND REAL-LIFE MERMAID (September 13, 2022, from S&S/Beach Lane Books).

I first came across Annette Kellerman’s story in the summer of 2017.  At the time, I was looking at interesting women from history for a series of illustrations––her resolute determination captured my attention, as did the swim records she broke, her grace and showmanship in and out of the water, and her steadfast belief in women being able to compete fairly against men. I did my piece on Annette and moved on to the next image. Well, that was the plan anyway. But Annette’s story stuck with me and begged for a longer exploration.

When Annette was very young, she was diagnosed with a childhood disability and had to wear leg braces. When I was a toddler, I lost my right eye to cancer. I understood all too well how having a disability (especially at such a young age) can change the trajectory of one’s life. Yet it wasn’t just that connection that drew me to her. The more I researched, the more there was to love about Annette! She was a champion swimmer who set world records when she was a teen (some of which remain unbroken today), fashion pioneer, fierce feminist, spunky heroine, and one of America’s first movie stars. What’s not to love? I admire her tenacity and refusal to conform to the expectations of her time. Brave women are often underestimated.

I was lucky; although her swimming career started more than one hundred years ago, I found dozens of photos, newspaper articles, and even videos of Annette swimming and performing. I even found stills from a film where she appeared nude, (she was the first movie star to do so, although that didn’t make it into the book!). ANNETTE FEELS FREE is about determination, disability, girl power, and the birth of a sport!

I am thrilled to share with readers this story that I fell in love with and have so enjoyed researching! Thank you again, Tara, for helping me share Annette.

Blog readers, Katie will be giving away a copy of ANNETTE FEELS FREE when it is released. 

Dive in with a comment to enter.

A winner will be randomly selected in September.

Good luck!

Katie Mazeika is an Ohio girl, born and raised! She grew up in Cincinnati, went to The Columbus College of Art and Design, and now lives in the Cleveland area with her husband, two kids, and two dogs.

Katie quickly fell in love with children’s books and can’t imagine a better job than making books for young readers. ANNETTE FEELS FREE is her author/illustrator debut. She has a second picture book biography about Beulah Henry (a.k.a. “Lady Edison”) coming out with S&S/Beach Lane Books in 2023. Katie illustrated books for the Chicken Soup for the Soul BABIES series: EVERYONE SHARES (EXCEPT CAT) by Jamie Michalak (Charlesbridge 2022) and EVERYONE SAYS PLEASE (EXCEPT CAT) by Jamie Michalak (Charlesbridge 2022), and is at work illustrating a third book in the series.

When she’s not drawing, Katie likes to spend her time gardening or reading other people’s books. You can find her at katiemazeika.com, on Twitter @kdmaz, or on Instagram @kdmazart.