Updated: Apr 17, 2018
"Channeling the greatness that lies within."
It’s imperative for children of all races, genders, and abilities to read stories about characters that share similar backgrounds as theirs. The lack of diversity in children’s book, and adult books, is disturbing, and fails to appropriately represent the melting pot of our society.
The gross underrepresentation can have devastating effects on an individual’s self-esteem, self-worth, and sense of pride
about who they are.
Every week, we profile an African American Children's Book Author. Get to know the person(s) behind the Pen. Here's the first of our 7 Questions Series. The person behind the pen.
Q:If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A:I would tell myself that the grind never stops. One moment of slack or one moment of lack of faith and action can deter you or set you back multiple years. Not that everyone should be a diehard workaholic, but one should always have goals and one should always be moving forward on those goals. There is value in networking, there is value in researching late nights and early mornings, and there is value in being your best self on a daily basis. At the end of the day... you are the best representative for your brand, and balancing relationships and work is the best way for one to realize happiness as they are achieving their goals. Never quit.
Q:How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
A:It allowed me to see that I am now the same as Mark Twain or Steven King. When I held my first printed book... I stood in awe – both with excitement and disbelief. It is a surreal thing to witness the process of an idea become a valuable, tangible thing. I began writing more and encouraging others to do the same.
Q:What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? A:The best money a writer can spend is on an editor. There are many types of editor out there – ones who will check for grammar and punctuation and others who will help direct storyline. When writing / publishing a book... there are a few key areas that will make or break your product. One of those things is portraying a clear message (editors help) and of course, ensuring that there are no grammatical errors which will discredit one's author-ity. I thank my partner Francis W. Minikon for utilizing his expertise to shape the direction of our books.
Q:What does literary success look like to you? A:Literary success looks like a changed life. Even if for a day or for a moment. Literary success might be witnessed by an author or she/he may never see it with their own lives. There is sweet serenity in knowing that one's ideas have brought value to the life of another. Now, authors should do their due diligence to gauge reviews to receive feedback on their work. Multitudes of praises allows for more possibilities such as turning books into movies or curriculum to have a greater impact. For me, success is in helping another witness a positive change in their life.
Q:How do you select the names of your characters? A:My company, Melanin Origins LLC, writes children's books about African American Pioneers, such as Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, Madam C.J. Walker, Marcus Garvey, etc. Our names are ready made, but I love most creative processes. Within the creative process for anything, I consider my storyline and I consider my target audience. I then do research on commonalities within the culture/audience. From that point... magic happens once I immerse myself into the world of whatever it is that I'm trying to create at the time. Brainstorming with others certainly helps as well.
Q:What is your favorite childhood book? A:Sad to say... I actually did not read as a child. Even though I knew how to read and made good grades in school – reading was not something that I took up as an extracurricular activity AND I REGRET IT. My company is working to provide many quality books for young people to engage them with the fun that can be found in the literary world.
Q:What does "Representation" mean to you? A:Representation is who you are and what you stand for. Yes, it is your brand, but one must realize that it is YOU. Everything about you. All of your actions and all of your omissions. In word and in deed. The average NFL Player represents the NFL when they put on their uniform on game day. The NFL has strict rules regarding what one can say, wear, and do while on the field. Colin Kaepernick decided to express his 1st Amendment rights and show his representation for young black and brown children nationwide. What you say and do at all times is what your brand becomes and branding is arguably synonymous with representation.
Q:Where can our readers find your book(s)? A:Readers can find our books on Amazon.com simply by typing "Melanin Origins" in the search bar or they can visit www.MelaninOrigins.com. Our learning materials promote STEM, truth telling, leadership, achievement, and provide for a healthy knowledge of self as children learn of historical pioneers who did amazing things with their lives.