A: Travel gets me really excited. I love to experience different cultures, political structures, and people. Children excite me. I love their honesty. They give me hope. Through my work with Major League Baseball's Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life and my life as a children's author, I've met thousands of children and read tens of thousands of essays written by them. It's kept me in tune with kids and their issues and reminded me just how resilient children are!
Q: Who is your hero or role model?
A: My father was my first hero. I thought he was a giant of a man with a soft heart. My father nurtured both the girly girl and the tomboy in me. My mother is also my hero. Nothing stops her! It was from my mother that I learned to love books, music, dance, and theater.
Q: What do you hope people, more specifically kids, learn from your writing?
A: I hope that readers will find something about a character in my book that they can relate to. Sometimes reading about how a character, real or fictional, deals with life can help the reader cope with his or her own life.
Q: What book from your childhood gives you the fondest memories?
A: As a child, I loved Grimm's Fairy Tales, Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham, and the entire Nancy Drew series. Little Red Riding Hood was one of my favorites. I could relate to a small girl who is on an adventure in the woods and gets charmed by a sly fox.
Q: If you could relive your childhood, how would it look in comparison to how it actually turned out? What would you do differently?
A: To be able to use wisdom and insight gained from experience to rewrite history is everyone's fantasy. The truth is I loved most of my childhood but I was very shy. I was the only black girl in my school. I did not distinguish myself. I didn't think that I was smart. So, if I could do it over again, my family would have lived in a community that included other black families. I would have gone to a multicultural school that valued girls and encouraged them to be assertive leaders.
Q: What is one thing about you that most people don't know that you would like for them to know?
A: That I love to dance!
Q: What book are you currently reading?
A: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to talk about?
A: Oh, yes! I just received Kadir Nelson's sketches for a picture book we're working on. It's so exciting to see it coming together. The story is a treasured family memory about my father testing the ice before we're allowed to ice skate. It has a nice twist at the end. Some of you may think you know the story, but not like it's told in my new book! But, no more details. You'll have to wait until fall 2009!