Mymcbooks Interview Author Antonee Boykin
Antonee Boykin is a picture book author from Mobile, AL. Alex and Tony Learn to be Gentlemen, is the first of what she plans to make a series of children’s books that teach valuable life lessons geared towards elementary school age children. She hopes that Alex and Tony will entertain as well as open dialogue in schools and families about issues such as the importance of being polite.
Antonee is a graduate ofAuburnUniversityinAuburn,AL. She holds a BA in Mass Communications, and has long considered herself a writer before being published. The mother of twin boys, whom she describes as the inspirations for Alex and Tony, she and her family reside inBirmingham,AL.
“As a child I always wrote short stories and mock books, so to have my work published is a dream come true. I hope that Alex and Tony become househould favorites, and are inspirations to children everywhere.”
Antonee Boykin is the author of Alex and Tony Learn To Be Gentlemen
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What is the last book you read? “Sugar” by Bernice McFadden
What was your favorite children’s book? As a child, I was an avid reader and huge fan of Judy Bloom. My favorite Judy Bloom book was, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” I also loved “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor and the Amelia Bedelia series of books by Peggy Parish.
What were your earliest memories of writing? When I was in the 3rd grade I put together a book and titled it, “Cool Calvin and Friends.” I stapled sheets of paper together and wrote an entire story complete with illustrations and everything. It’s funny when I think about it now, but I was really serious about that book at the time. Also, in the 6th grade I had a poem that I wrote selected for inclusion in a book that our school put together. That’s the earliest memory that I have of something that I wrote being recognized.
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural? Writing comes natural and that encourages me. As early as I can remember, I liked to write creative stories and poems and like most young girls I kept a journal expressing thoughts and feelings. As a child I had a unique way of putting words together. I don’t write for leisure now as much as I used, but I try to whenever I can.
Are you working on a new book? Yes, I’m working on the second book in the “Alex and Tony” series. I’m working with the same illustrator, Dia Reddo (www.sketchidia.com), from the first book and I’m excited!
What inspired you to write Alex and Tony Learn To Be Gentlemen and how did you come up with each character?
I got the idea for the Alex and Tony series from some difficult to answer questions my children were asking me. I wanted to create a series of books that catered to the concerns and issues of children. I began to write various stories and jot down ideas centered around some of our conversations. I shortened my children’s middle names of “Alexander and Anthony” to get the names “Alex and Tony.” The characters are inspired by my children but they aren’t my children. They do however share similarities, Alex and Tony (like my kids) are twins, also like my kids there’s a noticeable height difference with the characters. Some of the things that Alex and Tony say are similar to how my boys say or ask things. But most importantly, I wanted to create a family that did things like have conversations at the breakfast table, and I wanted to create children who ask their mom and dad questions, and parents who patiently explained things to them! Parents are their children’s first teacher and I want that to be visible with the relationship between Alex and TonyANDtheir mother and father.
What is the most difficult part of writing? The most difficult part of writing for me is when I can’t seem to clearly express what I’m trying to say. Sometimes it’s easy and other times I may have something in mind but can’t write it the way that I would like. But it always feels good when I finally get it right.
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books? Spend family time!
How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block? I’m fairly new in the children’s literary world so fortunately I haven’t experienced a bad review as of yet. But I’m sure if that should happen, I would take into consideration what was said and be mindful of the constructive criticism. As far as writer’s block, I definitely have suffered from it. It’s quite frustrating, but I view it as a challenge to defeat it and come up with something great!
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book? I hope that my book will serve as a learning tool, spark dialogue between children and adults, and encourage behavioral improvements. I had a parent tell me that after reading “Alex and Tony Learn to be Gentlemen,” her son became more aware of his actions and wanted to open the door for everybody. He became fixated on being a gentleman and that made me feel awesome! I want to provide lesson teaching literature that also entertains children and makes reading fun.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with? Because she was my favorite as a child, I would love to dine with Judy Bloom. I would tell her how much her books meant to me as a young reader. I would also like to dine with Maya Angelou. I’m a fan of her poetry, and her book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was one of my favorites in High School. She seems so full of wisdom, and I would love to have a conversation with her over dinner.
What author inspires you the most and why? The careers of authors like Stephen King and John Grisham inspire me. They were self published authors (like me) who have had major successes.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.? I just try to remain focused on what I have to do.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? I would advise parents to let children select their own books (assuming that the material is appropriate for their age). My children love the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. They literally get lost in those books and I love it. It’s important to encourage reading and to see what children gravitate towards on his or her own. If a child doesn’t like to read, I would advise selecting easy reader books with attractive illustrations that contain stories of interest to the child.
What advice you would give to new writers? My advice is to never let anything be a discouragement. If writing is what you love, don’t let any rejections or lack of acceptance take that love away.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Yes. “Alex and Tony Learn to be Gentlemen” is really a dream come true. This book is more meaningful to me than I can ever put into words. It makes me smile just imagining a child reading and enjoying something that means so much to me. As parents are building their children’s libraries at home, I hope that they add this book to the collection!
Thank you for this interview.
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
My goal is to giveaway at least 300 books to children each year.
Books Given in 2011: 315
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Read Interview about Ella Johnson, http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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