It’s Author Interview Thursday… Yes! I have to admit that I had a low period earlier on this year due to some issues with my illustrator and a potential book deal that got put on ice for the meantime. However, following my visit to the London Book Fair (and you can read all about it here) where I met quite a few famous authors and attended some world class seminars, I’m happy to say that my enthusiasm and passion for writing and growing my self publishing business has been rekindled. Something that has greatly benefited from this renewed passion is Author Interview Thursday! It has been an absolute pleasure meeting and interviewing the featured guests every Thursday. I learn so much and I hope you do too. It was such a delight getting to know our featured author today. I found the story regarding her inspiration for storytelling very inspiring. She has written and acted in several theatre productions. I love the fact that she delights in bringing out the unique talents and gifts in her students, clients and readers. With the months of May and June themed as National Teen Self-Esteem and National Child Awareness Months respectively, I believe she’s the perfect author to kick us off for the month of May. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Jamee-Marie Edwards.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?
My passion for storytelling was inherited from my grandfather since childhood. I remember him taking me out (as part of my family’s tradition) to watch the planes take off and land on the weekends. As I sat on the hood of his car, he would amaze me with stories from his childhood. There was always an exciting story to be told in his company. With that being said, I thought it would be fitting to use Jamee-Marie Edwards as my pen name in honor of the literary seeds my grandfather James Edward Lawrie planted in my life. As I matured, I acquired a passion toward health, the sciences and the arts. I truly feel blessed and thankful to have such a rewarding career, which has allowed me to combine all of my passions into one. Educating children about living a healthy lifestyle through the arts (storytelling, dramatic presentations) is one of my dreams that has finally been actualized. I am currently employed in the health office of Allen Christian School located in Queens, N.Y. and recently obtained my Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and Education. The Media/Television Production teacher at my alma mater high school, Hillcrest H.S., was the first person to say those infamous words to me “You Got It!” This came after my group performed a skit I wrote about challenges travellers face at an airport. The teacher and the class got plenty of chuckles out of that one.
What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Jamee-Marie Edwards?
As an author/health educator/science buff/animal lover, my books are typically fables which encompass health, character development and science related themes such as self-esteem, healthy lifestyles and animal kingdom basics. Overall, I write from the heart with a purpose to take readers on a journey filled with colourful illustrations and entertaining dialogue from fun loving characters who depict real life situations, lessons and resolutions.
Congratulations on the publication of your first children’s book ‘But I Am a Cat!’ Can you tell us where the idea for this book came from and what you hope the reader takes away after reading it?
Thank You David! In the scheme of life, we all wonder, “Where do I fit in?” I wanted to create a playful, but meaningful story that gives children, and even adults, a lesson on what it truly means to be “comfortable in your own skin.” It is my desire that “But I Am a Cat!” will inspire readers to discover, embrace, and celebrate their unique gifts, talents, and abilities. The book was also written to fuel a child’s interest in the sciences, as it presents a fascinating look into the basics of the animal kingdom, giving children new insights on the habitats of some of their favorite animals.
You’ve written several stage plays and acted in quite a few. How did this help or hinder when you were writing your children’s book?
My theatrical background proved to be very beneficial in my endeavor as an author. This especially holds true in the area of character development. As an actor and writer, you must “know your character” (i.e. their objectives, style, mannerisms, etc.). The goal is to make your characters believable and relatable.
Can you tell us how you worked with your illustrator to ensure that your vision was conveyed through the illustrations in the book?
I was very fortunate to work closely with an illustration coordinator throughout the entire process. Before the process began, we had several conversations to ensure I was matched with an illustrator that best suited my vision. In addition, I was able to incorporate pictures of my cat Mason (who is the main character) and other animals I desired. Each sketch had to be approved by me, down to the vivid coloring of the illustrations.
What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?
As an indie author, marketing can be one of our greatest challenges. I have found that social media has played an integral part in marketing my book. I also participate in various events— schools visits and health fairs, to market myself. I always have promotional items such as business cards, bookmarks and pencils on hand to help get my name out and build my brand. Book giveaways/contest are also beneficial.
What were some of your favourite books as a child?
“The Little Engine That Could” is without a doubt my favourite book of all times. Although I owed a copy of the book, my mother told me I was adamant about taking the book out with each library visit. I also loved reading anything by Dr. Seuss, Don Freedman’s Corduroy, The Nursery Rhymes Classics as “Jack and Jill” and “Humpty Dumpty”, “Curious George” and “Uptown, Downtown” to name a few.
What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
“I think I can, I think I can, I thought I could, I thought I could!” are the infamous words of the Little Engine. I realize words have the power to change a person’s life, be an Inspiration to others.
Hmmm, this question is a toss-up considering the fact that, I am truly a kid at heart and I can appreciate all animations with positive themes. I am also chuckling as I read this question because I do have a closet full of my childhood toys and books. However, if I must choose, I would have to say Shrek. As stated by Jeffrey Katzenberg (Shrek’s producer) the theme of the movie is ‘there is something wonderful about us all.’ As a facilitator of self-esteem workshops, I realize the importance of instilling a positive self-image into children, teens and adults alike. My choice is also in honor of May being National Teen Self-Esteem Month.
What three things should a first time visitor to New York do?
Choosing only three things to see from the city that never sleeps was definitely a challenge. However, I did manage to narrow the plethora of activities and sights the Big Apple has to offer to: Times Square where the infamous New Year’s Eve Ball is dropped. The bright lights and fan-fare especially at night is a must see. Of course, NYC is also known for its stunning productions on Broadway. Lastly, what would a trip to NYC be without a visit to Central Park? From the gardens, to the infamous fountain that is often seen on the big screen and the surrounding attractions as FAO Schwartz (toy store), the park seems endless and a venture through it is worth the trip. In addition, if I may sneak in another one, Rockefeller Center during the Christmas holiday season. The tree lighting is amazing!
What can we expect from Jamee-Marie Edwards in the next 12 months?
“But I Am a Cat!” is the first of the character development “I Am” series. So the next installation is in the works. Of course, there is always another skit or play waiting to be birthed. I would also like to venture into the Young Adult world.
I would appreciate and love to connect through
My website - www.maeinspireu.com (may inspire u)
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/jameemarie.edwards
Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jamee-Marie-Edwards-Author/435774816492157?ref=hl
Twitter – @JMarie_Edwards
Instagram – JAMEE_MARIE_EDWARDS
Link to IPAD Application - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/but-i-am-a-cat!/id815125891?ls=1&mt=8
I am also on Linkedin.
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” I hold this eloquent statement close to heart and love to share with students during school visits. I believe it can be inspirational to adults alike. Continue to BELIEVE in your dream of becoming an author and surround yourself with people who are pursuing or have pursued the same dream. I have joined countless writing groups/forums/associations as a support system to exchange ideas and to give and receive encouragement and inspiration. Remember tomorrow is another day and another chance. So many people give up too easily and are closer to their dreams than they think. Keep pushing! #dream #believe # create # succeed David, this was truly an honor! I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share and all that you do to encourage and inspire others. Continued blessings always!
The pleasure was all mine Jamee-Marie and it was such a joy to have you today. I really found the story of how your grandfather inspired the desire in you to write and tell stories very uplifting. It really goes to show that as children book authors, we really are in a privileged position to inspire the next generation. Jamee-Marie and I would like to hear any questions or comments that you may have regarding our interview. So do leave your comments in the box below and remember to share this interview on your social network.
Read This ====> Jamee-Marie is doing a giveaway for 3 signed copies of her book ‘But I Am a Cat’ To enter this competition, all you have to do is send a tweet to @@JMarie_Edwards and mention Jamee-Marie’s favourite book as a child (clue: it’s revealed in this interview). Include the hashtag #BUTIAMACAT with your tweet. All the best!
Photographs of Jamee-Marie Edwards and the Mother and Daughter reading Jamee-Marie’s book was done by Clifford Mason of Mase FX Photography/Baldwin N.Y