Meet the Authors: Interview with Rick Grant
Rick Grant always had a passion for writing and a particular desire to communicate with children in a language that they would enjoy.
In 2016 he submitted his manuscripts Where I Live and When I Grow Up to us for possible publication. We liked the stories and decided to publish When I Grow Up.
As a Virgin Islands author, his manuscript was perfect to be presented to the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education for possible inclusion in the Governor’s Summer Reading challenge as a feature book. An important component of the feature books is that they are written and if possible illustrated by Virgin Islanders, or Caribbean authors and illustrators. The definition includes people born in the region, or Caribbean residents. The idea is to allow these artists and writers to interact with the children that receive their books, and to create a literary collection that encourages and promotes local talent.
For the illustrations we went to Cuban artist Anabel Alfonso who had work with us in other projects. The final result is a beautiful book that inspires readers to follow their dreams and to recognize that all jobs are important and worthy as long you enjoy doing them.
The book was a hit, and for 2018 we decided to publish Where I Live with illustrations by Galih Sakti.
Rick has also become a children’s literacy ambassador carrying copies of his books wherever he goes, doing readings and offering free copies to public libraries and schools whether in the continental USA, the Caribbean or most recently South Africa.
We are happy to have Rick in our family of writers, and look forward to publishing more of his stories.
Interview with Rick Grant
Did you always want to write?
Writing has always been part of my life. My first piece was at age seven when I wrote a short story, on a poster board, about my wish to have a little sister. She was to be named Sabrina. Throughout elementary and high school my interest in writing and comprehension further developed. It was in college that writing became even more of an active part of my day-to-day life. I used writing, especially poetry, as an avenue to share my thoughts on various issues.
What inspired you to write your book?
The inspiration for my book was random. It just came to me. As I have gotten older, I have found that my inspiration is best when I am functioning in a space of clarity.
Tell us a little about your writing process.
My writing happens at all hours of the day and frankly anywhere. I get inspired and then I conduct a brain dump in my phone. Once I receive the release that I have “gotten it all out,” I transfer my writings to a word document and edit accordingly. I then seek the feedback of the specific target population which includes parents, teachers and administrators. The goal of this targeted feedback is to ensure relatability and that the title is meeting the needs of the intended audience.
What do you want to achieve with your writing?
I have two goals for my writings. 1. To promote writing as an attainable goal for everyone. I want others to understand and believe that they can write and publish too; and 2. To create literature that is inclusive and depicts accurate representation of Caribbean children, so all children can relate to and be empowered by the stories being told.
Is there a message for your readers in the book? What is it?
Where I Live is intended to expose readers to the world around them and help them better understand various living conditions.
How do you feel about having your book selected as part of the VI Governor's Reading challenge?
It is an honor to have been selected as one of the featured titles in the VI Governor's Reading challenge. This opportunity validates hard work, talent, creativity and gives local authors a unique opportunity to show their work, at home, where it can positively impact the lives of our community.
How did you find your illustrator?
My illustrator is a personal family friend. He and my brother attended the same college and when I saw his work, I was intrigued and wished to work with him on this project.
Do you have plans for future books?
I have personally launched what I call “Five for 5.” I am committed to publish five books for five years. This title is the second in the series. The first is called When I Grow Up. The other three titles will be called When the Storm Winds Blow, Virgin Islands Holidays, and My Summer Adventure.
Can you tell us if you have one in mind already? What is it about?
For my next title, When The Storm Winds Blows, I want to look at hurricane preparation through the eyes of a child. The next title after that will explore Virgin Islands’ Holidays. This title will help children have a better understanding of the meaning of the holidays we celebrate. The final title, My Summer Adventure will explore what it is like to spend a summer in the Virgin Islands.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
I would encourage them that authorship and being a published author is an attainable goal. I would also encourage them to attend a Literacy Fair or Conference. Being able to align yourself with other authors in caring and sharing atmosphere helps to sharpen your craft.
I would encourage parents to read with their children. Not put them off in a corner to read; but read with them and encourage dialogue on the contents of the book. Challenge them to think. I would encourage teachers to always be vigilant so they are able to identify the talents of the students they teach. Once they identify a talent, help to cultivate it. To children I would encourage them dreams really do come through. So dream big!