Katelyn Medlin, a sophomore at Sonoma State University, turned tragedy into triumph this year with the release of her book “Rusty to the Rescue.”
“Rusty to the Rescue” is a children’s book about a girl in the hospital named Susie, who is visited by Rusty, a therapy dog who helps her heal. The book is based on Medlin and a seven-year-old Dachshund who currently travels to care homes and hospitals.
During Medlin’s first semester at Sonoma State, she found herself in the hospital with doctors who had a tough time diagnosing her. Rusty and his owner, Terry Brown, began visiting Katelyn in the hospital.
“I started crying. I was so happy to have a little bundle of joy visit because hospitals can be so negative,” said Medlin. “I just want to inspire people the way Rusty inspired me.”
Despite being in her second year of college and being preoccupied with a double major in biology and business, as well as being active in her sorority Alpha Gamma Delta, Medlin finds time for book signings in her home town of Yuba City.
Medlin has also been in touch with The Good Dog Foundation in New York, whose mission is “to ease human suffering and promote recovery from trauma and stress using animal-assisted therapy.”
Medlin didn’t always plan to become an author.
“I never had any intentions to become an author, my mom suggested the idea,” said Medlin.
She went with the idea and started writing one week after getting out of hospital.
“I was in the hospital for two weeks and home recovering, writing down everything I remembered. I came up with a really rad manuscript and hired an editor and we worked together on that.”
The entire process, including editing and illustrating, took about a year to complete, considering that Medlin was still going to school and “wanted to make sure I was working with all of the right people.”
Danielle Boccio, a sophomore pre-business major, knows Medlin through their sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta.
“It’s inspiring that someone so young can complete this task and it’s extremely heartwarming at the same time,” said Boccio. “She took this shocking experience and turned it around to inspire other people and because she aimed it to little kids it shows the kind of person she is and how much she cares for other people.”
Medlin’s success isn’t just local, as people have been reaching out to her from all over the United States.
“Hearing the feedback, how much people love it and all of the support is extremely wonderful and helped me get better,” said Medlin.
Medlin’s illustrator, however, was not local to the United States. After contacting her editor in New York, he provided her with a list of illustrators and suggested she reach out and see if any reached back out to her. Medlin contacted the first person on the list, Richard Gomer Vivas, who is located in the Philippines.
“He did an amazing job, but the time difference was difficult,” she said.
Another sorority sister of Medlin’s, Brittney Karanopoulos, had plenty to say about Medlin.
“As a person, Katie has to be one of the strongest people I know. It’s amazing how she turned her not so great experience into something she is now able to share with kids and families everywhere,” said Karanopoulos,.“Her book is so adorable and I think it’s incredible how she takes on school, sorority life, family life and still has time to write a book. She is such an inspiring woman and I aspire to be like her in so many ways.”
Medlin’s success comes as a surprise to her.
“I didn’t expect it to shoot off. I did it for myself, but it has definitely turned into something extremely wonderful. And it’s definitely helped my health improve too,” Medlin said.
“Rusty to the Rescue” is currently available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and Powell’s Books. Medlin has already started the second book in the Rusty series, but says “I’m taking it slow. I have to account for my schedule and keep my grades up. I want to keep writing and get it all out there. I think it’s really fun.”