Flaws are important because they are authentic. Human beings are all flawed in one way or another; no person is perfect.
If the year 2020 has shown us nothing else, it has shown us that educators are more valuable than we have ever imagined, and they need an annual raise in the ballpark amount of about 3 million dollars! Author Ashea Goldson included. The Sassy Writer spoke with her and learned that she is taking on youth literacy and empowering moves towards the changes she wished to see.
TSW: Now, you are no stranger to using your words for positive change. Your works through your Little Colors of Love Books have been effectively portraying stories of little black and brown kids in uplifting storylines. What is something particularly alarming you have noticed amongst youth literacy?
AG: As an educator for over twenty-five years, I have noticed that children have an urgent need for language and literacy skills; these are skills that they will be required to use for a lifetime. Yet these are the skills that are greatly lacking in many cases. I believe that the missing piece of the puzzle is a love for reading. This may be fueled by exposure to stories of dynamic adventure, topics of interest, relatable characters, or inspirational experiences. In any case, when children love to read, they read more. And when children read more, they read better. I have been dedicated to this mission throughout my career as a teacher. And in the African American community, in particular, there have not been many books with characters of color having diverse experiences until now. When I was a child, black characters were rare, but things are changing.
TSW: I agree 1000 percent. There was such a lack of characters who looked like me in the books I enjoyed growing up. I cannot readily recall any children's books from youth with pictures of girls and boys who looked like me. My fondest memory of a story with so much as a cover with a brown girl was Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. Witnessing this representation gap firsthand, how did you keep this in mind when creating Little Colors of Love Books?
AG: I made up my mind to be a part of the change I wanted to see. As a writer and a publisher, perhaps I may have the greatest impact. I am compelled to provide all children, but, beginning with young children, stories enhance the magic of reading. I have created stories with diverse themes, multicultural characters and settings, adventurous and imaginative plots, and fun-loving rhymes and wordplay. If children can develop this love/habit early, then they will be more likely to carry this love of reading for a lifetime. If not, they are more likely to become an academic statistic.
TSW: I love this. We honor educators like you. Your students are lucky to have you. I'm wondering if they know that their teacher has a literary superpower. Do you share your books with your students?
AG: I spent many years teaching elementary school-aged children, and storytelling was one of my favorite activities. However, I actually do not share my stories with my current students because I am teaching AP Literature and AP Language to high school juniors and seniors. But I do teach an advanced composition dramatic writing class to seniors where I do share on the spot writings with my students.
TSW: Wow, ok! So, I don't think we put enough emphasis on the "superpower." Can I have a couple of day passes to sit in on the Dramatic Writing course? I am definitely intrigued! So, I want to chat a second about personal representation in your work, if any. Your latest, Granny Gets Rolling - what is one characteristic that Granny possesses that you as well have?
AG: I think that one characteristic that Granny and I have in common is probably perseverance. Granny keeps trying, and she will do anything for her grandchildren. Likewise, I love my own grandchildren and family and would do anything for them.
TSW: Now, you don't only write and publish children's books; you also write adult-centered Christian Fiction. You mentioned that your work embodies flawed characters and storylines. Why was it necessary to write books with this sort of reflection?
AG: Flaws are important because they are authentic. Human beings are all flawed in one way or another; no person is perfect. So my characters must reflect real life, real joy, and real human struggle. That is what makes the reader connect with the characters and the story.
TSW: This is an underrated approach, in my opinion, especially in fiction writing. I applaud and thank you for knowing the value of real-life issues in your books. You refer to yourself as a Kingdom- Writer. Tell us about the meaning behind the reference.
AG: A kingdom writer is someone who writes for the kingdom and the glory of God, faith-based writing. For my adult fiction novels, I write faith-based stories and help others write and develop their own inspirational stories.
TSW: Nice. Ashea, you are a writer and publisher, but you have also loaned your pen to other's works through ghostwriting. Do you find more liberation in your creativity when writing your works or ghostwriting for others?
AG: I definitely have more liberty when I am writing for myself because I make those creative decisions. When I am ghostwriting, the story belongs to someone else, and that person must approve my ideas.
TSW: We also understand you are currently adding another title pretty soon - host. When can we expect the podcast to air?
AG: The Little Colors of Love Book Talk Podcast has already aired, and episodes can be found on Apple and other popular podcast platforms. We are currently seeking children's book authors for book reviews, features, and author interviews.
TSW: Ok, Children's book authors, consider this as an all call. We will wrap it up with the TSW Fire Round, BUT, right after, Ashea is going to tell us how she can be contacted, especially for an opportunity to be a part of her podcast. Ashea, fire round! Singing or Dancing?
AG: Definitely singing
TSW: Cotton Candy or Funnel Cake
AG: Funnel cake.
TSW: What is your favorite flower
AG: A purple orchid because my favorite color is purple
TSW: The color of royalty! Now, whether you are a reader or writer, listen carefully. How can people connect with you?