I sneak tiny pieces of my life into everything I write.
Sometimes it’s a small thing, like an ancestor’s name, or the shape of my eyes, or my bad habit of biting my fingernails. Sometimes the tidbit is more revealing, like my fear of the dark, or my crises of faith, or how for years I shrouded greatness in mediocrity because I was secretly afraid of success.
When I created Daisy in Braided In My Hair, I gave her my hometown, including the street I grew up on and the elementary school I attended. Daisy also has my natural inquisitiveness and unique way of looking at the world.
Creating Daisy was a special experience. She was born of a need to express the anguish I felt after losing my grandmother to cancer, of a necessity to get over past hurts, and of a desire to write a book that not only moved readers but made them think.
I knew Braided In My Hair would be well received by my peers, but I had no idea Daisy would become such a heroine to teenagers, many of whom emailed me after reading the book to say she was just the friend they needed.
Their responses taught me something: Teenagers need and long for characters who help them deal with their personal anguish and hurt, as well. They need examples of how to handle their crises, and they want to be challenged to look at the world in different ways. So for them, I created Every Day, a blog and book series co-authored by teens.
I have something for our youngest of readers, as well. The Children’s Band project is dedicated to teaching kids as early as possible lessons in money management, work ethic, arts and culture, health and fitness and overcoming life’s obstacles.
To begin filling in the gap between preschoolers and high school students, I came up with my childhood alter ego and gave her my nickname, Tough Tiff. She is “not mean tough, but strong tough.” “Strong enough to do anything she sets her mind to,” she says.
There are several other characters in my mind and on my heart, and I’ll introduce them to you on this website and on my blog as they as born. Know that I have something in store for everyone.
There’s a lot of me to go around.