Katharina “Tina” Rempel immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 1977, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1986. She married her best friend, John Siemens, on April 17, 1988. She is the proud mother of two sons, both married, and Oma to four precious grandchildren. In 1989, Tina and her husband, John, started JW&T, Inc.—a company specializing in both residential and commercial construction.

Tina has served on various boards in Seminole, including the Chamber of Commerce and the hospital board. In November 2015, Tina had the great honor of being named citizen of the year of Seminole, Texas. And hardly a day goes by that she doesn’t tell someone how proud she is to be an American! This is her first book.

1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me!  When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?

Mrs. Carpenter thank you so much for having me, it is truly an honor for me to be on with you. Thank you for sharing my story! I was interested in history from a very young age, when my Grandma told me about her chairs, it started with curiosity about these two elegantly carved wooden chairs that she had when I was about four years old, these chairs told a story in itself, when grandma said they had been brought to Mexico by train from Canada when they journeyed to Chihuahua Mexico in the 1920’s. These two carved wooden chairs were like none others that I saw in our village, this sparked the interest of our families history. I knew I needed to have a written account of our history, so when our two sons were born, I had to find out more about our history and to have it in written form for them when they grew up. What I love about being a writer the most is seeing a physical book where I have spent countless hours of travel, going through archives, interviews, and finally seeing it in a book format is such a satisfactory feeling of accomplishment. It did not come without frustration when there would be missing pieces of information when trying to connect the dots from one migration to another spanning over 450 years of emigration, but in the end, it was like flexing a muscle pushing me to look deeper till I found the answers. 

2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you? 

My first book “Seminole Some People Never Give Up” is a collection of five different migrations, Netherland to present Poland, Poland to present day Ukraine, (seeing the news today of what our ancestors former home in Ukraine has brought many sad circumstances to the minds of many of us) it’s like déjà vu of what happened from 1875 to the 1930s in Ukraine) Ukraine to Canada, Canada to old Mexico, and old Mexico to Texas. I was eight when my parents made the move from Chihuahua Mexico to Seminole Texas. I always say I wasn’t born here but I got here as fast as I could… It has been an absolute blessing not just for my family but for hundreds of others as well, making our home here in West Texas. We moved here on March 26, 1977, it was not without its challenges, not knowing any language except for our low German dialect that we spoke at home, but we were eager to learn and the community embraced and welcomed us. Both of my books can be found on Amazon in Kindle, audio version as well as paperback. My upcoming Children’s book titled “The Little Sandals That Could” this is me telling our Immigration story to Texas through the eyes of me as an eight-year-old. 

3) What projects are you currently working on?

Currently working on book number three, this book will shed light on the connection between the Mennonites and the Comanches, the last chief of the Comanche tribe Quanah Parker. Quanah Parker‘s has a large footprint in our town of Seminole’s history, Quanah Parker‘s mom Cynthia Ann Parker was abducted during a raid on May 19, 1836 at Fort Parker in Texas. 

4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?

Hearing from people far and near of how they were encouraged by reading my families true story is all the reward I could ever ask for. I am aiming to get my current project and the  sequel to “Seminole Some People Never Give Up” which will be a continued saga of our life  in America after becoming US citizens in 1986, getting this done in the next 5 years would  be a dream come full circle. 

5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?

There is always one or another that does not like what you’re writing. At first it’s painful when someone does not share your vision, but at the end of the day one has to reason, and let it go. Just make sure that my motives are in the right place and find peace about it. 

6) Do you have a schedule for when you write?  Do you outline your novels?  How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?

Weekends are my best times to sit down and write or research. I make an outline then dive into chapters before I write in the details. And because my first book “Seminole Some People Never Give Up” spanned over 450 years of history, it took me years of traveling to Europe as well as Ukraine, Canada, and Mexico, to gather information from archives, heritage tours, and interviews. Then the writing process was a lengthy 4+ years. My children’s book “The Little Sandals That Could” was not near as long on account of it being my personal experience as an eight-year-old coming to America. Leaving my only doll behind and anticipating the day my doll and I would be reunited. Will that day come when I will get to hold my doll again? This was a good book project to write during the Covid pandemic where I was not required to do any traveling. I only worked on it about six months.

7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry?  Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?

It is never too late to start your writing career… I think it’s wonderful if a young person has the aspirations of writing, and I would encourage the young writers to start writing. But on your question on whether it would hinder the chances of your writing career once you get older, on the contrary I would say that I think for many writers having raise their families, and experienced life is an ideal time to start your writing career. It’s like a new hobby with great rewards. At a time in life when you are ready to slow down it’s a great time to share your life’s  journey, it can help the written story to be so much more personal whether it is a true story or fiction. 

8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you?  Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?

I have read a lot during my life, I had never read a book until I was about 7 years old, my first book that I owned and had the privilege of having my name written in it was a little primer of learning how to read and write in school.  

My very own real book was after we moved to Texas about the age of ten, I got my very own  Bible, it was a King James version and I read and read in it as well as underlined and  highlighted a lot of verses. In the Mennonite culture books were not a part of a household besides the Bible. But only adults read the Bible. I was very fortunate to have my parents’ permission to have my own Bible. 

Right now I am reading several different books 1) The Last Comanche Chief by Bill Neeley, 2) History of the American Indians by James Adair, this for a broader view of the lives of the American tribes gaining more insight of the American Indian tribes; the connection of a relative of mine that worked together with Chief Quanah Parker in Oklahoma. 

9) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity or did it make you even more driven to get things done?

Like I mentioned above my children’s book will always be considered my pandemic project, I had known that I wanted to write the children’s book but because of the lockdowns and not being able to travel for my other books. I took the time to focus on getting the children’s book done… Not only is my children’s book on perseverance, faith and hope, gleaning from my family‘s personal journey but it gave me the tools to know that we would be able to come out victoriously from the pandemic. I know that many people had a very hard time with the lockdowns, so anxiety was elevated for so many. I aim to be an optimistic person my motto has been for years.” NEVER GIVE UP” 

With my subtitle of my first book, “some people never give up” many days during the pandemic it gave me the nudge and kept me accountable of my advice to others.

10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you? 

I chose to go through the traditional route of publishing after looking into self publishing, it would definitely be cheaper to go self publishing, but in my circumstances it was easier to go through a publishing company. 

Since I’m a person that has many other irons in the fire, a business woman and wife, One of my favorites being an active Oma (grandma in German) doing many projects with our four grandchildren ages 7-10.  

11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally.  I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity?  How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?

I totally agree with you that writing is a remarkable tool to help express oneself. To see a published copy of what you have poured your heart and soul into, seeing it available for others to read is a phenomenal gift not only to yourself but to others who have been touched by what you have written. In my category of writing there was very little that had been written in the  past of my ancestors journey from Canada to Mexico in the 1920’s, it gave me such an open  window into what they experienced by having made the decision to immigrate, leaving everything that they knew and had grown comfortable in, time and time again going back to  the 1500s, emigrating to a new land for religious purposes, so I believe this passion of writing our history down not only for my own family but for the world, was an opportunity that I don’t  take lightly. I am humbled to have had the privilege and the stamina to see it through to the end. Having written my family’s journey gives thousands of others that have made the same journey a voice and a tool to instruct the next generation of the challenges and benefits of writing down the details of their journey.