Q: First tell us something about yourself?
I’m a 21-year-old, writer, musician, activist, and author of a children’s book series that I started at 16.
Q: How and when did your journey start as a writer?
I always was a writer. And so were my parents and some of my other family members, so it comes naturally.
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
When I was 7 I started writing short stories in my room. I would read them to my family and that’s when I said I wanted to be an author someday – but not any author, specifically a children’s book author.
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
They are part of a project I have called “Bears For Cares.” The original idea which I had with my sister was to give stuffed bears to kids with a cause connected to it. I was 15 when I came up with this idea and the cause that was most on my heart at the time was how we were treating – or rather – mistreating the Earth and animals. And so I partnered up with Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program to start the project. I always looked up to Jane Goodall, and Roots & Shoots is her youth program that she created to help and encourage young people to start a project to make a difference. The idea of giving these organic cotton stuffed bears was nice, but how would kids know the cause it was connected to? That’s when we had the idea they would come with a book to help explain it. Now multiple books with matching stuffed animals from the books have been created and are available here. A portion of the proceeds of all books go to the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots program. And the books are printed on recycled, acid-free paper.
Q: Why do you choose kids as your reader ? is there any specific reason?
Children’s books are some of my favorite types of books. I still love them now, even though I’m not a kid, you will still find me browsing in the kids sections. It’s just the most fun section! And I love writing lyrically which is why I write songs and poems. I find children’s books take a similar form to poetry and even music in words flowing together rhythmically. I always loved and was drawn to reading, writing, and listening to things that rhyme, so I made my books rhyme as many kids book do. And I love getting to the core of complex issues and explaining them in simple, easy to understand, accessible ways that everyone, even a child, can comprehend.
Kids see things with fresh eyes. And when it comes to the topics I have discussed in my stories, they understand caring about animals, the Earth, and one another, they get it often more so than adults. And they are the future generation, so as much as we can plant seeds in kids of awareness and compassion, they can grow up to be a kinder, more aware generation than ones that came before.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
In my first book More Beautiful Than Heaven though there isn’t just one main character as much as the Earth and all the creatures who live here make up the story, I write about Beary, a polar bear, who lives where the ice is melting, and the book has a stuffed Beary to go with it. I also mention in the first book an octopus named Billie, who lives in polluted waters, who then got their own book Billie the Octopus and has a stuffed octopus with it. I also mention a chimpanzee named Jenny who lives where trees are being cut down and she also got her own book, Jenny the Chimpanzee, which has a stuffed chimpanzee along with it too, and that book is also a tribute to Jane Goodall. After that I decided to write A Thanksgiving for the Turkeys, with a turkey named Milo taking the lead. Milo is a sweet and naive turkey who is excited for Thanksgiving before he learns what it may mean for him and his friends, and you can also get a stuffed animal turkey with the book. And my most recent book, Friends Lift You Up, is an anti-bullying book which has main characters April and Tyla who are friends who have drama, realistically similar to the types of friendship conflicts that happen at school. There is also a girl Janelle who comes towards the end of the story and models being a good friend. The books have educational back pages that further explain the topic and message behind the story, as well as things you can do and some resources.
Q: Do you want to leave any message for your readers?
I say my overall message is about creating a more compassionate world. And what I want the reader to be left with is the message of interconnectedness, empathy, the desire and drive to make a difference, and respect for and wanting to be there for each other, the Earth and all the beings who live here with us. With us, not for us. As well as whatever message people get from the stories is up to them to interpret and find their own meanings.