Becoming a published children’s book author is a legacy decision. It’s something you do for yourself but can have a significant impact on others. It is an amazing way to make a difference in the world because children’s books have the power to shape young minds when they can see themselves in what they read. This was only a small piece of the inspiration for Shardé Redmon – who knows the power of children’s books firsthand. Well, sort of. It was more the power she gained realizing she didn’t have any book available to her that made her “see herself” and what she experienced. As a result, she was motivated to write children’s books that featured main characters who looked like her and came from similar backgrounds.
I had the pleasure to catch up with this busy and beautiful author, and she shared her journey to becoming an author. I was really impressed by her story and how passionate she is about her work. It was inspiring to hear about her journey, and I know her success and impact will continue for many years to come.
What is your backstory? Tell me about what inspired you to become an author.
My name is Shardé Redmon, and I was born in Dallas, Texas. I graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Development and Family Studies. My ultimate goal is to unlock the potential and build confidence in tiny brown and black children facing adversities in life. Growing up, I also struggled with the constant question, “Why do you talk proper?” As a child, literacy about this particular topic did not exist. It still didn’t exist until I published my book in 2022! I am hoping to truly make an early impact on her young readers and embrace being different. Personal experience was my ultimate motivator in terms of being inspired to become an author. Growing up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, I often was teased for talking too proper and even being labeled as a white girl simply because I spoke differently than others. I was in Miami as an adult vacationing when the infamous question of “why do you talk so proper?” stumbled across my way from a complete stranger. The idea came to me like a lightbulb, and here we are six years later. I became more determined to publish my children’s book when I learned that this book doesn’t exist.
What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
The key theme and message in my book are to continue being yourself no matter what your differences may be. In my children’s book, the specific topic is centered around the question of “Why do you talk so proper?. Other topics that are discussed within the book are bullying and the subject of science. The question of “why do you talk so proper?” may not seem harmful to some, but when constantly taunted and belittled for being different, it most defiantly can turn into bullying. Sometimes words are harmful and can stick with you for a lifetime. My book could help teach a valuable lesson to readers on both ends of the stick. I think it’s important to spark interest in various topics, such as the solar system, at an early age for our children, especially children of color. I hope the few facts about the solar system shared in my book will interest readers to dig deeper into exploring science.
What was the highlight of writing this book?
The highlight of writing my children’s book was making it a dream come true! The idea of writing a children’s book has been on my vision board for about six years. It honestly felt great to mark it off my goal list. The other highlight of writing this book was the impact that it would have on so many readers. The topic of “Why do you talk so proper?” is very relevant within our community, and I believe it will make the impact so many children deserve.
What comes first, the plot or characters?
The plot came first for me when writing “Why do you talk so proper?” Writing the book and creating the plot was an effortless process, as this book has been the story of my life! Over the years, I rewrote the book three different times. I had a lot to work with, making this part of the process much easier. When creating the character, I tried my best not to get ahead of myself during this part of the process. Don’t get me wrong, creating my character was a lot of fun, but I also did not want to lose focus. I had to be like Nike and “just do it”!
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
My hope for my readers to take away from “Why do you talk so proper?” is to be yourself no matter what! Life can be difficult enough, especially from the perspective of a child. We must teach our children, at an early age, how to deal with the negativity of others, no matter how difficult it may be. If we teach our kids this valuable lesson at an early age, just imagine all the possibilities that lie within their future. I also believe anybody, both children and adults, can read this book as the overall message is the biggest takeaway. This is a book I desperately needed twenty years ago as a sixth grader. I truly believe that if I had read my current book as a child, my entire perspective would have been shaped and molded in a different direction. That is my WHY for my children’s book.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Yes! The main character Ginger Honeysuckle holds a very special place in my heart. The character is based on my experiences dealing with talking too properly, but the image of the character is based on the sweetest, smartest, and funniest little girl named Hanah. Since I met her as a baby, she has held a special place in my heart, and I love her so much! I am forever for her and the relationship we continue to maintain. She approves of Miss Ginger Honeysuckle!
What is the significance of the title(s)?
The title of my children’s book is very significant! Not only is it catchy, but it gets straight to the topic of the book. “Why do you talk so proper?“ is a conversation starter needed in the African-American community, especially regarding our future leaders of tomorrow. The micro-aggression that many of our black children experience based on how they speak is truly disheartening. I also believe that my book is a vital resource for all children simply because it preaches the power of believing in yourself, no matter what comes your way. We also have an affirmation page within our book to help instill these in our children at a young age.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
The journey has been a roller coaster for sure! The idea of publishing a children’s book would reappear on my yearly vision board for about six years before getting serious about making it happen. From being ghosted by one publisher to making deliveries with Uber Eats to fund my book, I was determined at any cost to make it happen. I’ve had many days and late nights of feeling discouraged, uninspired, and even unsure of myself. When the lingering question of “what if?” pops up in my head, I always refer to this quote from Toni Morrison; “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I would encourage anybody wanting to make their dreams come true just do it! Sit down, set intentional goals, create a game plan, and get to work! I had to live by these words daily to make my dreams a reality. The work starts within you!
Are you working on anything at present you would like to share with your readers?
Within the next year, for Redmon Books, we plan on publishing our second children’s book, a series of coloring books, and so much more! We would love to partner with local non-profits that pour into the African American community that targets the youth. We also are pushing for our books to be in stores for purchase, specifically at independently black-owned bookstores. Within the next few years, we would love to be on the shelves at Target and the National African American Museum in Washington, D.C. We also would LOVE for our book to grace the hands of Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama! We have big dreams and aspirations here at Redmon Books!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from the most random things. I would have to say that driving in the car alone in silence and traveling are the top contenders when I have the best brainstorming sessions. For example, the thought of writing a children’s book came when vacationing in Miami. I also am a person full of ideas, and I love feeling inspired! Feeling inspired allows me to see the beauty in the smallest things and be optimistic about keeping going when things get rocky. I also draw inspiration from reading books, networking, and listening to podcasts.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I am not writing, my favorite thing in the world to do is travel! What can I say, I am a wanderlust by heart! I love seeing different parts of the world and how other human beings live life. It truly is an addicting lifestyle! Besides traveling, I love trying new foods, laughing with my loved ones, and taking on as many different life experiences as possible. I also love spending time with my family and friends, reading new books, and playing with my dogs! One thing I would like to do this year is taking a hot air balloon ride paired with a glass of champagne.
How much ‘word-building’ takes place before you start writing?
The act of word-building was a necessity for me when writing my book! I needed catchy words to capture the attention of my young readers to keep them intrigued. Word building was a bit difficult because I’d never written a children’s book before; it all was very new for me. As I work on my second children’s book, I believe word-building will be much easier but may come with challenges. However, I am ready to tackle it head-on!
How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book as you were writing the story?
Dealing with the emotional impact of writing my book was a doable process. My emotions were more tied to getting it done during the writing process. However, once the book was published and in the hands of consumers, that’s when the emotional impact really hit! It was an emotional experience because it never dawned on me how hard I worked on my book until it was a physical product. I also get emotional when customers share their experiences dealing with the question, “why do you talk so proper?” I’ve not only had children share their experiences with me but with adults as well.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
The most difficult part about writing is being still to simply write. The world is full of many distractions, and without discipline, it can be difficult to achieve your goals. Another difficult part about writing a children’s book is writing in terms children can comprehend and understand as adults. Writing is tricky in many other ways, such as transferring all your ideas onto paper. It’s more difficult than many would think!
How can people connect with you, find your books, etc.?
You can find my book primarily online for now. You can purchase “Why do you talk so proper?” On Amazon, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, and our official website. You can connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok. You can find our official and beautifully designed website at www.redmonbooks.net. Feel free to shoot us an email at [email protected]!