Author Ashley G. Smith Discusses the Inspiration Behind Her Makayla’s Blues Children’s Book Series
Writing a successful children’s book requires more than just a great story. It also needs to be well-illustrated, engaging, and appropriate for its target audience. Now take all of that insight and create a series. That is exactly what author Ashley G. Smith did! Writing a children’s book series offered Ashley the opportunity to create an unforgettable character named Makayla and stories about her that will stay with readers for years to come.
In a brief interview, Ashley G. Smith shares her journey and inspiration as an author and the challenges she faced to inspire those who desired to write a children’s book and may not have started or given up. Her story is an inspiration to anyone seeking to find their passion in life and follow their dreams.
Hi, Ashley! It is such a pleasure to chat with you for a bit. For our readers and me, tell us a little about yourself.
I am a country girl born and raised in a small town outside of Clarksdale, MS. I attended The University of Southern Mississippi, where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in management in 2017. Currently, I am a Branch Manager for a private finance company. Although I went to college to study management, writing has always been my passion.
Congratulations on such a wonderful accomplishment! Who is your target audience for your book? Why did you decide to write to this demographic?
My children’s book series target audience is the ages 9-12. I chose to write to this demographic because I believe this is the most influential time in their childhood. This age group is when children process their feelings, emotions, interest, and capabilities. Therefore, I wanted to create books that would inspire them to be the best they could be and believe in themselves.
What inspired your two children’s books?
Two reasons inspired my children’s books. My first reason was the lack of black children’s books. Growing up, I love to read. As a child, I noticed there were no characters in books I read that looked like me. I wanted to change that. I’m also thankful for the other children’s book authors who created books with black representations. It’s fantastic to see. Last, I want to inspire children to never give up on their dreams.
Did you model Makayla after yourself and someone you knew?
Makayla’s character is inspired by my little niece, Layla Calvin. She has the bubbliest, joyful, determined personality I have ever seen in a child. Her ability to try new things fearlessly impresses me. She was the perfect muse for developing Makayla’s character and look. Lastly, Makayla’s love for hip-hop music references the hip-hop culture. Hip-hop has shaped a lot for the black community, so I wanted to highlight it by using it as Makayla’s passion
What was your experience writing children’s books, and did you have any challenges?
My experience writing children’s books have been super challenging but extremely rewarding. I did not have a background in journalism. I only had a passion for writing and telling stories. However, I didn’t want to outsource everything I did for my books. I got where I am today professionally by educating myself on how to complete tasks independently. The biggest challenge I faced was deciding to be my editor. I didn’t have the money to hire an editor and illustrator, so I told myself that wouldn’t be what would end my journey; I would do it myself. I am most proud of how I pushed myself to be the powerhouse I am today. I am the writer, the editor, the designer, the promoter, the website builder, the speaker, you name it. I am my brand.
What would you like your reader to learn from reading your books?
Each of my books tells a story of a child on a magical journey that challenges them to believe in themselves and not to give up. It’s important to remember that every child won’t have representation to show or tell them how to accomplish their goals. Therefore, I use Makayla and other characters to show them how to process failure and achieve goals through practicing until they get it right. Consequently, I want readers to learn how to get through challenging times without giving up.
What is next for you in the next year or so?
Makayla’s Blue’s children’s book series is a 3- part series. I have released Makayla’s Blue’s: Hip-Hop You Never Stop and Hip-Hop Ninja Crew. The final book should be released at the end of this year. I’m super excited and can’t wait to see what the children think about this one.
Where can people pick up your books, and where can people connect with you?
Makayla’s Blues is available on multiple platforms. People can purchase their copies on Amazon, Walmart, and my website makaylasbookworld.com. If they buy on my website, they’ll receive a signed copy of the book from me. Also, to connect with me, I am on Facebook as Makayla’s Book World and Apparel and on Instagram @makaylasbookworld.