I am beyond happy to have read Sebastian A Jones’ book I Am Mixed, which he co-authored with Haitian-American actress Garcelle Beauvais. My three children are mixed Haitian and German, so the book caught my attention right away. I was in Los Angeles visiting my daughter when Sebastian and Garcelle held their book launch and we attended. My review of the book is here.
What inspired you to write I am Mixed?
Garcelle and I met at the park on a sunny, summer day when my son and her twin boys were playing on the same ride. We quickly got talking about how there were no books we knew of for mixed kids like our own. So, in a very organic way we started brainstorming about creating one that all children could relate to. Therefore, it was our own children and our own experiences that inspired us to write and release a kid’s book, where everyone can celebrate uniqueness and individuality while discovering what connects us all together. From there we pushed the envelope with an end goal to create a series that would tackle many diverse but important topics. I Am Mixed is the first in our I Am Book Series. The follow up will be I Am Living in 2 Homes for children and parents who are dealing with divorce.
How many books have you written?
I have written one other children’s book, Piñata, which I co-authored with my dear friend and brilliant producer, Ken Locsmandi. I have also written a couple of screenplays and a bunch of comic books including, The Untamed, and Dusu: Path of the Ancient, the latter was illustrated by James C. Webster who is the amazing artist behind I Am Mixed. Many of these comics fall under the banner of my company, Stranger Comics, whereas Piñata and I Am Mixed are published under our kids division, Stranger Kids.
How did you and Garcelle come up with the book?
A lot of brainstorming! We danced through the ideas that ranged from doing something metaphorical, but Garcelle was very resolute in staying true to having our book represent actual kids who are reflected in today’s youth. What we wanted to do was make sure that, even though we follow these two little tykes in Jay and Nia, all children of all backgrounds could relate to the book and message. So after a few drafts, one just came very naturally to us and seemed to write itself!
How long did it take you and Garcelle to complete the process of publishing I am Mixed?
We had a few discussions of taking our book to one of the bigger publishers, but decided that we wanted to be able to guide our vision in our own way, so my company Stranger Kids (a division of Stranger Comics) had the honor of publishing. It took some time to create, as we had a very specific approach with a strike-force team. Darrell May crafted some wonderful layouts, and the brilliant design by Adrienne Sangastiano was the icing on the cake to Webster’s magical illustrations. We also had great help from our educational director, Megan Lewitin, who crafted some great parent-to-child questions in the back of the book to accompany activities such as “the family tree.”
What do you hope to accomplish with I Am Mixed?
Spread love. We understand that the subject, even the name, is a raw and most sensitive one. Our goal with the book is to do our small part, by creating a talking point of acceptance, self-awareness, and unity amongst all people of all ages and color, which is just as important now as it has ever been. We are in the age of internet where people can learn, build, and connect, as easily as they can be misled. As we get older, we become rooted in our opinions, which are difficult to sway… but when we are young, very young, we are open, willing, and wanting to love and connect while learning who we are without agenda.
Since, the release of the book, what kind of feedback have you received?
Very positive! There has been an overwhelming support from people of all backgrounds the world over. There has been some minor yet understandable kneejerk reaction, again due to the sensitive nature of race relations, but once people discover the book’s intention is the celebration of all, it has been an awesome. A very common comment we hear is, “I wish this was around when I was young.” There has been some great support from talk shows like Access Hollywood, to celebrities including Halle Berry, Heidi Klum, and Jamie Foxx, and of course the social media has been great. We are making friends everywhere. There have been some mixed communities who have been a wonderful force of nature in supporting and spreading the word: Mixed Nation, Mixed Chicks, Mixed Race Babies, Caramel Curlz N Swirlz, Mixed Up Clothing, and Love Crosses Borders out of Germany to name a few! But we want to make it clear that the book is not only for children of mixed backgrounds, “I Am Mixed is an invaluable teaching tool that all children of all races can learn from.” Halle Berry (from her foreword).
Do you have a website? Please tell the readers where the book can be purchased?
The book can be purchased from any good retailer, like Barnes & Noble, or online. It can also be downloaded from Nook, Kindle or iBooks (iTunes). All links can be found at here.