We were excited to speak with author Jem Hughes who told us about going after her dreams and encourages future authors to do the same!
Q - How old were you when you first wrote something substantial?
A - In elementary school, around 8 years old, I always loved creative writing. College was the first time that I remember writing something substantial for a creative writing summer class. I wrote poetry and even my first realistic fiction piece.
Q - Did you ever aspire to become a writer?
A - In elementary school, I had a show and tell, and I bought a Sesame Street book for a read aloud. My teacher told me that her friend was the author of the text and she got the book signed for me by her friend. I was inspired that day because I could not believe that my teacher knew the author and it allowed me to know that I could be an author one day. The feeling that I got from that experience was so wonderful that I still remember the love that it created for writing in me.
Q - What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
A - The best piece of advice that I’ve received is to go after my dreams. Writing my book was something that I always spoke about, but it took someone to say, “do it.” Once I started writing and stopped wishing that I was a writer, it became one was the best day of my life.
Q - What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
A - The advice that I would give to an aspiring writer is that you have so much in you that the world would love to read about. Do not get discouraged, the best story that you will ever write is inside of you.
Q - What did you find easiest and hardest about writing?
A - The easiest part about writing is that I used a lot of my experiences to make it fun. I enhanced the text using experiences that I was familiar with. The hardest thing about writing is being concise, especially in a children’s text. You want to make sure that your writing is kid friendly and that your children’s book does not become a novel for the younger children.
Q - Was it faster to write your book or to have it published?
A - It took me a few months to write the book. Before writing I already had an idea of what I wanted to write about so when it was time to write, it was easy. Publishing took a lot longer. The editing process takes time. You can read your text many times and still find a word or two that needs to be edited. Edits also with the illustrations take time because you must be sure that what you write aligns with the vision of your writing.
Q - What was your favourite part of your book to write?
A - There were so many things I loved about writing, Rae’s Coney Island Birthday Surprise. There was so much in me as the author that came out in the book. I got to talk about my childhood experiences of growing up in the South Bronx and traveling on the train to my favourite childhood amusement park. In the beginning when Rae’s mom speaks in a Caribbean accent that is a great moment because that also speaks to my childhood having parents that are Caribbean. Ultimately, the part with the train Michael Jackson and the magician are my favourite parts because I’ve seen these things on the train growing up and it always gave me joy.
Q - Do you have any plans to publish more work?
A - Yes! I would love to do a children’s book series with Rae who is the main character of my book. I have already started thinking about ideas for my next children’s book.
Q - If you could review Olympia Publishers in just a few words, what would they be?
A - Olympia Publishers gave me the experience that I imagined as a child. They were extremely supportive in making sure that my vision for the book came to life. They have been supportive in all the edits.