1. What was your inspiration in writing The Young Conquerors Series, Leon's Share?
When I write, I do so with the intention that I am composing stories which can be tools for social growth and learning. I want children to walk away with a better understanding and appreciation for others.
During the many years I worked as a teacher, I often saw students who were genuinely funny. Unfortunately, sometimes children don’t always stop to examine or recognize the effect their behaviors can have on the feelings of their peers. Also with so much being done and said nowadays about bullying, I want readers to begin putting themselves in the place of others. I wanted Leon’s Share to be a story about an unlikely friendship that comes about as a result of a character learning to care about the needs of someone else.
As a teacher, I saw so many African American boys who were gifted often times act as though they were embarrassed about being gifted. Sometimes male students would mask their intelligence by telling jokes or even becoming disruptive. I wanted to write a story about a young African American boy who realizes it’s alright to be gifted and even use his gift to help someone else.
2. How did your 30+ years as an educator help in the writing of this book?
All of the characters I write about have traces of the children I worked with during my thirty-two year career as a teacher. Whether a smile or a degree of shyness, many children have stood out and the memories I have of those children are the foundation and inspiration for my characters.
3. Some kids or parents, when reading this book, may recognize themselves or their kids within its pages. What would you say to them at this time?
I hope if they recognize themselves in this story, they will walk away feeling a need to convey to their children that everyone has value and working together with others is key to building good relationship. Every individual has something to share that can help make somebody else’s life better.
I hope parents will take a moment to emphasize and help their children see how accepting a person’s disability can actually help their children grow into kind human beings who know the importance of having compassion for others.
4. Your book is very thought provoking and an inspiration to young readers. What lessons would you like for kids to take away from this book?
In all of the stories I write, I want young readers to recognize the importance of creating good friendships. I also hope to encourage their hopes and dreams, build their self-esteem, and create a sense of compassion for those who may be different.
5. This book is the first in the series. What's next for Leon?
I have actually titled this The Young Conquerors Series because each book in the series will tell the story of a child who overcomes a problem or situation. I want young readers to know that problems can be solved and goals can be reached. The second young conqueror story may have a girl as its central character.