Today, this blog has the honour of an interview with author Kimberley Jones, who has written the upcoming children’s novel Our Friendship Matters. Recently, I contacted Kimberley and asked her the following questions:
Where do you come from and has this place influenced your writings?
I am from a small country town called St. George in South Carolina. It’s the kind of place where we can count all the stop lights on one hand, and everyone knows everyone. My hometown has played a part in me, expressing my words through novels and children’s books.
To this day, in the small town where I grew up, they still have a school for whites, where no black children attend. Do I think it’s bad? Of course! But it’s their choice. I write to express how I feel about certain situations that I think the world show know about and possibly change.
You are a children’s author. What made you decide to write children’s books?
I started off writing children books because my motto was “young children deserve to learn history.” My grandma lived until she was 94 years old. She shared with me all her stories of her coming up through the Marcus Garvey Movement, Great Depression, boycotting chain stores, War World I & II, The Great Migration, Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement. I wanted children to know history to make life better for those who pave the way for African-Americans today.
I wrote my first children’s book in college and the book that inspired me was White Sox Only. It was a cute book about a young African-American girl, who was confused of signs posted that said “white’s only.” She does not understand the concept of race, but only understands the color.
This blogger: Wow, your late grandmother sounds like extraordinary woman. I studied history as a degree and would have loved to listen to her stories. She experienced so much.
What inspired you to write Our Friendship Matters?
What inspired me to write Our Friendship Matters was when African-Americans started the Black Lives Matters movement. I would search the internet and watch the news. I would see other groups, like Whites Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, and Blue Lives Matter forming against the Black Lives Matter movement, taking the focus off the real issue. In my view, it wasn’t fair or right. The reason Black Lives Matter started was to stop police brutality against African-Americans, which has been happening for decades. Yes, all colors are brutalized by police. But in all reality, African-Americans suffer the most.
Another reason I wrote this book is for African-American parents who shelter their children from the truth. This isn’t good all of the time. Children need to be aware of certain things that could happen because of who they are. That way, when they are faced with reality, they can handle the truth and know what to expect in certain situations.
The world is becoming more diverse and our children are the future that can make change. In this book, two best friends struggle with a friendship because they have been sheltered by money and do not appreciate the role race could play in their lives. Sometimes, we have to sit back and think to ourselves on the point we fought for. We need to think what we can do to make things better. It starts with the youth, who are the future. If we can reach out to them, we can help them and they can help us make this world a better place.
What Is Our Friendship Matters about?
In Our Friendship Matters, these two girls graduate from a St. Louis, Missouri, private school. But during the summer, they become enemies because one friend decides to protest for her race. One black and one white. But once a tragic accident happens, one must come forward to tell the truth by leaning on the friend she betrayed.
Sasha is the smart one who works hard to get good grades. They both have the jocks at school. Leah doesn’t care, what she says goes and if it doesn’t go her way, then expect to pay. When one friend is interested in protesting the other gets jealous of the other’s new friends and goes against her. It’s all about revenge.
It takes a tragic accident, threats, and leaving the city for one friend to realize that she made a huge mistake. A threat which will make all the high school friends come together and protect her.
This blogger: (*sighs*.) This is a great pemise for a story and I like it a lot. It also sounds, sadly, like something that is quite commonplace in the West today.
What message would you like readers to take away from your new book?
I want the message to be that we all come from different backgrounds and to accept people for who they are. We can’t change how people think of each other, but we can change the world to make it a better place to live.
Accepting friendship, forgiveness, and love for one another from all different people with different backgrounds. Sometimes we can’t help what we are taught. But we can help teach to love one another, no matter what color we are.
This blogger: Amen to that. (*clasps hands together*.)
Which of the characters in Our Friendship Matters is the most like you? And why?
I can relate to my character, Sasha. There are some true events that happen in the novel. Growing up, I was fortunate to have parents that provided for their children. But because of our circumstances, I ignored the issues that I was surrounded by in the world until I became older. Then, I became aware of what could happen to me because of my color.
Throughout my life, I have shed many tears from things that I thought I was secure from, but it was still a challenge because of who I am. Some people thought that, because of my color, I couldn’t handle certain jobs; that I couldn’t relate to staff because I was the only African-American working at that setting. But like Sasha, I fought for what I thought was right and didn’t let anyone change that.
In my first blog post, I wrote about the spark and the push of motivation that writers require to start their novel(s). What was the spark and the push for you? What inspired you to start writing?
The spark for me to write was getting others to know how we feel. Having a voice for ones who don’t. The push for me was to get young readers to understand that the grass isn’t green for everyone and to understand where they come from. Leave no room for judgment!
Momma taught me since I was a little girl that your story is not their story. I didn’t understand this until I got older. She would always say: “Child, you bless and don’t know it,” or “don’t worry how people get things, just be happy you are fortunate to get it.”
When I got older, I became just like her. She would give you the shirt off her back because she cared who you were, not what you were. She always taught me to give because you will get more back than expected. When she was in hospital dying, her last words were: “Keep writing.”
So, I will never stop for my mom’s wishes. From that day on, I’ve been expressing myself for her through my writing. I never told anyone, but I was writing Our Friendship Matters in the hospital when I was staying with her. I quit my job to go home and help take care of her. With this first novel, I was blessed to get with a publishing company, Rhetoric Askew Publishing.
This blogger: First, I would like to express my condolences. Your mother sounds like an incredibly kind and forgiving woman. A true inspiration for all people. Second, may you write forever. I have infinite faith that your mother is smiling down upon you from above because of the person you have become. You have taken her best values forward, and the message from Our Friendship Matters is proof of that.
If you could give your younger self some advice about the writing process, what would it be?
If I could give my younger self some advice writing advice, I would say, “stop the foolishness and start writing now.” I would have a million books out by the age I am now.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My kryptonite is coffee first thing in the morning. If I have my coffee, my brain operates just like a Ferris Wheel. When it stops, I need more coffee to start it up again.
This blogger: (*chuckles*.) Then keep drinking as much of that stuff as you need!
How has writing changed you?
Writing has changed me in so many ways. I just love that I can express how I feel and what I think the world can see. A lot of people don’t know how to express themselves until they read it. Once, they have read it, they can say: “she’s right, I never thought about it that way.”
It’s my freedom to express my thoughts. Maybe some people don’t agree with me, but it’s okay because everyone thinks differently with their own opinions. I accept people for who they are. If I can’t change them, then at least I got my point across.
Have your family and friends read Our Friendship Matters or any of your other two novels? What do they think of your writings, and how do you feel when they talk about it with you?
Yes, I talk to my husband and family from time to help me about my ideas. My husband usually says: “go for it.”
We have discussions about how I feel about writing to express myself. In truth, my friends and family are all very supportive, which gives me a kind of therapy. They understand that we all have different viewpoints on life but at the end of the day we value how we each think.
This blogger: That’s nice. It is so important to have this support.
What time do you usually start writing and what do you find the hardest part about the writing process?
On the weekends, I start writing first thing in the morning. If my son allows it, I can get a full day of writing. (*smiles*.)
During the weekdays after work, I try to do my daily chores and get writing in for a while. Then, I have to stop to get my 5-yr old son into bed by 8:00pm. After that, it’s back to writing for me.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m usually having family time or taking my son to Barnes and Nobles. If I want some me time, I sometimes treat myself with a nice pedicure. But I always have my phone with me, where I’m reading an eBook. So, writing and reading is in my life for a long time.
When I’m not doing either reading or writing, I find myself going shopping. Unsurprisingly, though, I usually end up buying something that deals with writing. I can’t get away from it, it’s my life.
This blogger: Haha! That’s very funny. And it also highlights your passion for your craft and why your stories are so good.
End of interview
That brings our interview with author Kimberley Jones to a close. I would like to thank her for her time, and to say that it has been delightful talking with her. I wish her all the best for her future writings, her family, and her other undertakings.
You can pre-order Kimberley’s lovely children’s novel, Our Friendship Matters, from her website and I am sure it will be value for money. Moreover, like Kimberley on Facebook, follow her on Instagram and on Twitter to stay up-to-date with her and her latest releases.
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