Hope, Mindy, and NoNieqa are members of the Soaring ’20’s group of talented and prolific authors, and each one continues to bring us picture (and other) books imbued with heart. Each author of this uplifting trio has graciously answered the following questions:
1. What was the inspiration for your new book?
2. What is your book’s heart?
3. What’s the MOST important advice you can give to struggling writers?
4. How should readers connect with you?
A young boy is surprised that his mother’s Korean hometown is nothing like he had imagined from her stories about her childhood. When he comes to realize that not everything has changed and imagines himself in his mother’s stories, readers will share his joy.
Hope Lim, author of MOMMY’S HOMETOWN:
1.) Childhood memories of my hometown in Korea and the changes I witnessed every time I visited my parents were the inspirations for this story. I used to walk to the river and play there all day. Sharing that memory with my kids and taking them to the river inspired me to write a story that captures the passage of time in a place where old and new co-exist.
2.) The heart of my book is the mother/child connection that transcends time and place; a connection rooted in love and sharing, which defines the meaning of home.
3.) Keep reading and writing and believe in yourself. Another piece of advice that stayed with me is to write a story that only you can.
Readers are welcome to contact me via my website, hopelim.com.
Fatima al-Fihri had a thirst for learning and a lifelong wish: to build a university freely available to all. At first, she kept her wish inside her. But when she had the means, she oversaw the building of the university in 859 C.E. in Fez, Morocco – and it still stands today! Throughout her entire life, she remained true to her Muslim faith and stood tall, determined, and strong.
Mindy Yuksel, author of ONE WISH:
1.) I first learned about Fatima al-Fihri at an exhibit in New York City. I was surprised and captivated by this visionary, trailblazing woman who founded the oldest university in the world in Fez, Morocco. She is an inspirational figure who contributed to humanity and illuminated our world for over 1,200 years. Her university is still in operation today and continues to grant degrees. I was so inspired by Fatima al-Fihri, I had to write a story about her. We need stories about women who have changed the world for the better, especially marginalized women who are often stereotyped and maligned in our society.
2.)The heart of One Wish is to believe in yourself and your dreams. No matter how difficult Fatima’s life became she never gave up on her dreams, believed in herself, and persevered.
3.) Like Fatima al-Fihri, believe in yourself and your story. Be persistent, patient, and continue to hone your craft. Like a kind friend told me when I was starting off, it’s only a matter of time. Keep going and don’t give up.
I invite readers to visit my website, www.moyuksel.com
Beauty’s parents surround their daughter with love, culture, and community, but as she grows, hateful words shake Beauty’s belief in her own worth. In this fairy tale-like story, you can’t help but cheer for Beauty when she learns to embrace her culture and herself.
NoNieqa Ramos, author of BEAUTY WOKE:
1.) I always think of the littles and their caregivers when I write books. My inspiration to write Beauty Woke comes from a place of healing. Racism, whether experienced first hand, witnessed, or experienced by exposure to the media, takes a devastating toll on mental health. I wanted to validate my readers’ experiences of confusion and pain, but give them comfort, nurturing, and hope in the arms of their family and community.
I intentionally did not have Beauty march in a protest in this book. Children should certainly be empowered to be active members of their community and have a voice. But being a political activist can be exhausting. Instead, I have Beauty march in celebration of her culture and her people, centering childhood, laughter, and joy.
2.) The book’s heart is in Beauty’s name. To every parent who reads this and feels seen, you are beautiful. To every child who experiences racism and does not have the vocabulary to explain what is happening or what you are feeling, everything you heard was fiction and everything beautiful about you is a fact.
3.) The most important advice I can give struggling writers is the struggle is normal. It doesn’t mean you can’t write the book or you won’t write the book. The struggle has a message for you, only you have to dig a bit for it first. You may need to take a walk before you get the answer. Listen to the traffic or birds outside your window. If you are struggling to write a scene, work on the outline. If you are struggling to write the main character, try a minor character’s perspective. Maybe just do a personal journal for the day. No writing is wasted.
Readers can contact me on my website at https://nonieqaramos.com/. My handle on Twitter and Instagram is @nonieqaramos. I have great information on school visits for educators. I look forward to connecting!
I’m so grateful to Hope, Mindy, and NoNieqa for sharing their amazing insights with us! From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all continued success!! I’d also like to give a huge shout out to Jaime Kim, Mariam Quraishi, and Paola Escabar, for bringing these wonderful picture books to life with their stunning illustrations. To view earlier Writers’ Rumpus posts about the Soaring ’20s group, check out PLOTTING AND PANTSING THEIR WAY TO A DEBUT by Kim Chaffee and NEW PICTURE BOOKS by Marcia Strykowski.