Kelly Starling Lyons, a proud native of Pittsburgh, PA, started writing as a child. Inspired by her mother to express herself through the arts, she watched as her mother acted in local theaters and write plays for their church. She wrote her first poem in second grade. It was about the beauty of the color black.
As she got older her love of writing got more serious as she knew it would be apart of who she was. She began writing plays and poems and even started buying Writer’s Digest on her visits to the bookstore.
One Million Men and Me, a great book for children 5-10, is her first picture book but her second children’s book. Her first being NEATE: Eddie’s Ordeal.
To start the interview let’s find out about Nia, the main character.
Can you tell us a little bit about Nia and her day at the Million Man March?
My main character Nia was inspired by a little girl I saw at the March walking past the Reflecting Pool with her father. Her eyes were big and twinkling. To me, she looked like a princess in a sea of kings. When I left the March, I wondered what the day was like for that little girl. What moments would she would always remember? Those wonderings led to what I featured in One Million Men and Me. Nia's day, like the one I imagined the little girl had, was filled with the sights, feelings and sounds of the March.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when you wrote:
Like a quilt of moving pieces, we walked together, singing songs that made my heart dance.
We stood tall and proud as mighty oaks, the men, Daddy and me.
They came to make changes, came to make themselves and their communities better.
And I was their Princess, there to see the dream of this day come true.
I squeezed Daddy's hand as the view stretched before us – million Black men, one million Black Kings.
Happiness glowed in Daddy's eyes. Tears shone too.
Through Nia's eyes we can see the beauty and strength of that day. Can you tell us how important it was for you to show that through her eyes?