How long have you been writing?
When I was a preteen, my dad set up a computer and a few games in our home office. One game was a write-your-own story program. I started writing mysteries and my parents still have the blackmail – I mean copies. I just hope the stories never resurface. Since then, my only goal while writing is to tell a better story than those first few “mysteries” written in my parents’ basement. My writing has improved over the years, and I wrote my MFA thesis project - SELLOUT (Scholastic Press, 2010) - while at The New School.
What did you do before you became an author? If you are not writing full-time, what other work do you do?
I’m a full-time English professor. I get to teach composition, effective speaking, and children’s literature to undergraduate students. Years ago, when asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I’d always say write children’s books and teach others about writing. So, I’m living my dream.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
Writing is my small way of contributing to the world. I believe we each have a story to tell and writing allows me to share my story. There is a small piece of my personal story in every book that I write. It’s special to hear how readers react to what I write. I also fall in love with the characters that I create. I’m probably over-invested in their lives and want to make sure I write in a way that readers will fully invest as well.
What inspired you to write these books?
I like to bring African American stories to the forefront. My mom has traced our family members back generations and collected meaningful stories for each person. I want to write stories to honor her efforts, but also in memory of all of my ancestors’ stories that will be passed on to future generations.
What type of book are you writing? What draws you to this category?
I’m drawn to stories for youngest readers because of my experience as a former preschool teacher. I loved taking the children to the library and watching them flip through the pages and witnessing their reactions to the stories they loved and connected with. I also loved filling my classroom library with stories that reflected the students’ lives and experiences. The kids were able to see themselves on the pages. That is why I teach. That is why I write. You can read more about my work at https://ebonyjoywilkins.com/.
What would you like potential readers to know about your books?
My stories highlight the important roles we each play in our families. It’s an honor to be tasked with being the next story keeper and storyteller in the family. Young readers will find comfort in the idea of using stories to keep the memories of loved ones alive.
What are your social media handles?
Tell us one surprising/interesting/fun fact about yourself!
I come up with my best ideas while staring at water. I love beach and lake days, and find it most relaxing to sit near the ocean and/or Lake Michigan and listen to the waves crash against the rocks.