When I look back at my elementary school years, some of my fondest memories were the days when the teacher received that box in the mail from the Weekly Reader Book Club. She’d open it in front of the class and distribute what we had ordered weeks before. It was like having Christmas and my birthday rolled together month after month. I’d bring my books home and binge on Nancy Drew mysteries—The Mystery at Lilac Inn was one of my favorites—Charlotte’s Web, Little Women, various science fiction novels and books about African American historical figures.
I distinctly remember the day when I put whatever book aside that I was reading for a moment and announced to my mother, “When I grow up, I want to be a novelist.”
As I grew older, the desire to write a novel didn’t leave me. I decided to be practical by majoring in journalism in college. I figured that I could hone my craft, learn how to manage deadlines, get used to working with editors, all while getting a paycheck. It was a sound strategy. I spent decades working in radio, newspaper, and television journalism and wrote short stories and essays in my spare time.
It wasn’t until after I left journalism and had more of a 9 to 5 schedule that I began writing The Talking Drum. With the publication of my book completed and weeks behind me, I now have the bandwidth to resume work on my second novel. All that reading as a child has benefited me. If fueled my desire to become a writer. I whisper a heartfelt “Thank You” to all of those authors from my childhood who inspired me.