What drew you to the genre of children/young adults?
I read a lot when I was growing up but at the time, I never really realized I was not reading anything that featured a young African protagonist. My first ever book with a black female character was the Jasmine Candle by Christine Botchway and I totally loved the story. The descriptions of the food, Zenobia’s hair and skin, the weather, the environment, even the way the characters spoke, these were all things I could relate to. The story just seemed to come alive because I knew the setting and it was almost as if I knew people too.
When I started writing, that was what mattered most to me. To have African children and young adults see themselves reflected in the pages of the books they read. To give them a sense of identity, to let them know that their stories matter too, that they are important enough to have books written about them.
Where do you get your ideas or storylines?
Usually, it’s a new location, the sense of place. Travelling to a different part of the country and seeing how people in those parts live give me ideas. In the Middle of Nowhere, Perfectly Imperfect, The Lost Royal Treasure and The Step-monster were inspired by the settings of the story. Other times it is a newspaper article or a story I heard on the news. Plain Yellow and When the Shackles Fall were the results of news stories. Disfigured was written after I found a lump in my breast.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
A lot of my writing is basically about female empowerment. I started off writing for adults, but now I am more into young adult literature. I can pretty much do what I want but I am finding that a lot of my characters end up being female. In my part of the world that is quite a big thing as I want to empower young girls and let them know that they can be whatever they want to be. I want them to see themselves reflected in the pages of books. I hope that through my books, young girls will be able to identify with my characters and will know that they can achieve more than what they’ve been led to believe is the norm.
Should an aspiring children’s writer go the publishing house route or the self-publishing route?
It’s a decision the author will have to make for themselves.
Some factors to consider include:
-your target audience
- your finances ( to pay for an illustrator, graphic designer, editor, printer, book promotions and adverts etc)
- your marketing skills
There are lot of resources online to help self-published authors. The author will have to weigh the cons and pros and decide for themselves.
Can you read through or edit my manuscript?
Congratulations on completion of your manuscript! Well done! Unfortunately, I am so swamped with my full-time job and with writing that I cannot critique manuscripts or offer advice on your literary works. I do however highly recommend that you get a professional editor to edit your manuscript.
Can you donate books to my NGO?
I'm happy to collaborate with NGOs/ charities whose core beliefs align with mine. I am given a limited number of books as "Author's copies" upon publication of the title, as such I cannot honour every request to donate books to charities and NGOs. To do this, I will have to purchase the books from my publishers and this is not feasible. I am however willing to link you up with my publishers. If you are interested in this arrangement please contact me via email.
Do you do school/ reading club/ book club visits?
Yes, I do, depending on my schedule and availability. Kindly provide the following information in an email to determine the rate: duration of the visit, location, audience numbers, age group, activity based/ non-activity based reading/ book signing.
Do you have any advice for young people who want to get into writing?
The most important message I could give is to read the types of books that you would like to write. Get to know the types of books your target audience is reading and read them. Read a whole bunch of them and notice what works and what doesn’t work in them and apply it to your writing. Do your research first and read, read, read.
Keep writing. Don’t give up.