A Common Wish of Parents, Don't Grow Up Without Me, Author Interview with Christie Blackwell

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Author Christie Blackwell and I were introduced through mutual friend, and fellow blogger, Edi Campbell.  If you remember, a while back, Edi and I interviewed one another, check out the link below if you missed it.  Christie is an author of children's books and her first release, Don't Grow Up without me, shows a mother's love and special bond with her twin children, a boy and girl. The illustrations are too cute, and the story is one we can all relate too.  I wish I had known about this book before Mother's Day because all of my mama friends would have gotten a copy.  

Check out my interview with author, Christie Blackwell, as she dishes about turning ones dreams into action, and the need for diversity within children's literature.  And why she thinks children turning the page of actual paper books enhances their love of reading.  As always my questions will appear in orange, and Christie's responses will be in white.  

Tell us a little about yourself.  Did you always want to be an author?  What brought you to writing?  
An author…no way!  Sure, I have memory boxes full of old love notes and poems, but don’t we all!  I never planned to write.  You see, I received a degree in marketing, which I love.  Creativity and brainstorming fuel my spirit.  I enjoy coming up with ideas in my head and bringing them to life.  Think It.  Do It.  That’s my measure of success.  Up until now I’ve been creating marketing and sales plans for my account management positions over the years, then lesson and unit plans during my tenure as a teacher.  I think it’s those special 5 years in the classroom that planted the seed for my desire to write my first book.  I remember out of hundreds of books in my classroom, each year, I only had one bin of about 30 books to read to my students with multicultural characters.  Books that feature diverse characters and themes of family and love are so scarce, and it is important to me as a mother and wife to bring stories to life that celebrate the family unit.  My first book, Don’t Grow Up Without Me, was birthed after putting my children to bed one night and not being able to sleep after doing so.  I sat down at the table, and just begin to record the elements of our nighttime routine, which created the framework to my very first book.  
      You consider yourself a dreamer, and believe that true happiness is found when you work towards your dream.  Has your dream always been to be an author?  Can you tell us a little about your journey while you pursued your dream?  When you were met with adversity, what kept you going? 
The journey, well, I’ve grown fondly refer to it as the wilderness.  For me, the wilderness has included many lessons of self-discovery.  I’ve learned so much about myself, the desires of my heart, and the impact I want to leave on this world.  The journey has become less about me and more about how I can be a blessing to others.  That’s really the driving force behind my self-publishing company.  It’s important to me that I create stories for our children with images that reflect our diversity.  I haven’t always dreamed of being an author, but I have always had a desire to make an impact in the lives of our young people.  I think focusing on literacy and love is a great way for me to make a difference.  Over the years, I’ve had many dreams and now that I’m looking back and connecting the dots, they were all related, almost like stair steps.  Each dream led me to action, which in turn led me to my next dream.  Had I never become a teacher, I would have never really known the need for multicultural literature, and thus never decided to write my first book.  I’ve kept building and moving towards the visions that are placed over my life.  When I feel a certain tugging in my spirit, I go towards it every time. When I see a door open, I go through it trusting God every step of the way.  I remain prayerful and ask each day that He leads me towards the calling over my life and shows me what I am to do that day.  Each day, I commit to do one thing that moves me towards my dreams and visions for my life.  When I’m met with a stumbling block, I acknowledge it, and plan my way around it!  I don’t get stuck there.  It’s not easy, but in the end, it’s worth it!
What is your favorite book? How has it influenced your writing?
I absolutely love Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee.  The book is simply written, and a beautiful story that shows no matter how frustrating parenting can be, there is no love greater than that of a parent and child.  I enjoy stories like this, and I want to show in my writing that very special bond between parents and their children.  I am fascinated by the eternal nature of love and its unconditional presence. 
In your book Don’t Grow Up Without Me the theme of family is huge, why do you think that is an important message to convey in children’s literature?
I believe children need to grow up with an appreciation for family.  Yes, the family unit, may look different across households, but every child needs to know that it is this very support system that helps make them into responsible adults. 

Tell us a bit about Don’t Grow Up Without Me.  Where did the idea for your book originate?

It’s what I do!  Each night, I tuck my children into bed, and say a special prayer for them.  I stay with them until they fall asleep, sometimes holding their hands, other times laying on the floor until it’s safe to leave and not wake them.  After a hectic day, it’s this moment that rejuvenates me and encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing for them, for their legacy.  Don’t Grow Up Without Me is a beautiful story of a mother’s love, faith, and desire to see her children grow up!  That mother is me, right down to the illustrations that were all drawn from our family’s photographs. 
Do you prefer e-books or paper books?
 I enjoy e-books and find them extremely convenient, but I am still a big fan of paper books, particularly for my genre.  I want children to be able to snuggle up with a good book and share in that reading experience with their family and friends right next to them.  For me, turning the pages of a good book in hand, just makes the experience more memorable and sets a firm foundation for the appreciation of reading. 
Any advice for authors looking to publish?
Do the research!  Authors need to know what is traditionally done in publishing and how they will compete and carve out their niche. Developing and implementing a marketing plan that supports the book is crucial to the book’s success!

Any other books in the works?
Absolutely!  Don’t Grow Up Without Me shows you the special bond between a mother and her children.  But what about Dad?  I can’t wait to show his perspective in my next book.   

Want more from Christie?  Check out her links;

About Christie Blackwell:   She is a dreamer.  She believes that true happiness is found when you work towards your dream and live a life of purpose.  By day, she encourages educators to create engaging, interactive lessons for their students.   By night, she snuggles up with her husband and two children, one daughter and one son, taking in all the joy they bring to her life.  She enjoys teaching and motivating others to have a vision and do something every day to make their dreams a reality.  Christie is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and graduate of The University of Georgia.  Hope is her center and prayer is her foundation.