I read the Trey Jones series for Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Today meet the author of the series in my 200th blog post!
Tell me a little about yourself: I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Currently, I live in Maryland with my firefighter husband and high school-age son. I work in Washington, D.C. as a contract investigator for the federal government but often dream about becoming a full-time author. Writing is my passion. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing or dreaming about the next story to write. Being a writer never leaves me, and I’m okay with that.
When you were my age, did you like to read? YES! I would read anything I could get my hands on, including my parents’ newspapers (comics) and Highlights magazines. My pediatrician gave a free subscription to any of his patients who wanted one. Of course, I did. To this day, I still get a funny fuzzy feeling when I see a Highlights magazine.
What was your favorite story? My mom used to read me a book about a little girl and her teddy bear. They traveled all over the world because her father was in the Army. The girl told about her experiences visiting and living in different places. I LOVED THOSE BOOKS! I think my love of travel began when my mother started reading me that series when I was about four years old.
How do you get your ideas? When my son was younger, I would search for books with an African-American boy as the lead character. Since I couldn’t find one, I created the confident and know-it-all Trey Jones. Many of the stories focus on real-life experiences children can relate to. I worked on the premise and stories for ten years before deciding to publish them.
Is it hard to write a book? For me, it’s hard to get started. Looking at a blank screen and wondering what to write is a little scary at times. But, once I get started and the characters start speaking to me, I can’t stop.
Why do you think multi-cultural books for kids are important? Multi-cultural books are important for kids because they build self-confidence. Books with diverse characters represent the world we live in and allows us to see that we may look different, but we’re all the same. Reading about someone from a different culture, race, or religion gives us a better understand of other people. Multi-cultural books teach us to RESPECT and UNDERSTAND one another.
What author do you really like right now? I will always LOVE Ezra Jack Keats’ books. The Snowy Day was the first time I read with characters who looked like me and the people in my family. Today, I have all of his books on my bookshelf.
And, I will always really like, Barbara Parks’ Junie B. Jones series. When my son was younger, he read the whole series to me. We used to laugh so hard and loud, people would’ve thought we were CRAZY.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read everything. Study the text on the pages. Learn from it. Take notes of what passages make you feel something. Emotions are what keep readers engaged. We like a book that makes us laugh, cry, or question something. Before you sit down to write, THINK. And most of all, enjoy the process. It won’t always be easy, but the final product is all worth it.