Join me in welcoming African American author Cherese Vines. I met Cherese through the Facebook group for African American authors. Her passion for the written word impressed me hugely, and this is what led me to interview her.
Can you tell the readers about yourself?
I’m an author, wife and mother of two. My parents were in the military, so I’ve lived all over the U.S. I’ve lived in Georgia near Atlanta since 1999. I’m a self-published author. I love to read and write, and I can’t get enough of the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com). Many movies are just adaptations of great books and plays. I participate in the National Novel Writing Month each November (www.nanowrimo.org) where we write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve won (reached the goal) three years out of four. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I have a number of books written that I haven’t published yet because I’m still editing. I like talking and encouraging people who are interested in writing and publishing their books.
What inspired you to start writing books?
I started writing my own books when I was 11 or 12 and since then I’ve always felt comfortable writing at that level. Just the idea of being able to enter a story I created and change what happens is exciting. I’ve always loved to read, and writing just came naturally. I especially like fantasy, magic and science fiction, and children’s literature really focuses on those genres and imagination and less on reality. We have to deal with reality everyday. Why read about it?
What are your thoughts on the lack of children’s books that portray children of color in a positive light?
Since I have a five-year-old I’m always going to the library, and we have found many positive books with children of many different cultures. I think the popularity of TV shows like Dora the Explorer has really opened the industry’s eyes to the need of diversifying TV as well as the book market. Also, the ability to publish on demand and ebooks has really opened the market for writers to put out books that have good main characters of color. We have a ways to go, but I see positive changes already.
Do you have children? What kind of books do you like to expose them to?
I have a five-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. I read to them just about anything age-appropriate. I want them to have a diverse exposure to the world through books. My daughter has a great imagination, and she loves books about fantasy like mermaids, dragons, and fairies. But she can read books about the Old West and islands and present time. She especially likes Bible stories for children. The Bible has everything from love to adventure to life-lessons to ghost stories to super heroes. There are some books I avoid for now just to prolong that innocence in my kids. But other than that, almost anything written for children goes. Now when they get old enough to read juvenile and young adult fiction, I’ll probably have to review them first.
Write about everyday things that children can relate to. Children of any color can relate to having a fight with their siblings or getting a surprise. Universal themes work well. Even if the character is from someplace halfway around the world, every child will have to deal with similar situations. Don’t talk at them or over their heads. Make sure that any child heroes solve the problems themselves and not an adult character. Children like to feel independent and responsible and reading about children like themselves doing things for themselves helps build self-esteem. I like the motto that you’re never too small to do anything.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?
Read anything and everything. Not just fiction or not just how-to books. There are books on every subject. Try reading about history or art or music. There are many true stories that are arguably more exciting that fiction. And give each book you approach a chance by getting through chapter one — you may find you like it.
Where can one find more information about you and your books?
Anyone can subscribe to my blog at www.cheresevinescharmingwords.wordpress.com and go to my website www.chereseavines.mysite.com and read excerpts from my books or view my book trailer. You can also find out when new books are coming out. Or email me at [email protected]
Thank you so much for the interview.