An interview with author Winona Rasheed
Winona Rasheed writes to inspire. And, to that end, she succeeds.
Rasheed writes children’s books. From a new home for her cubs, the tale of a lioness searching for a peaceful and safe home to raise her family, to the deceptively impressive broken voices, she artistically conveys a message of hope and love for children of all ages and, yes, abilities and disabilities.
Rasheed’s voice is powerful, yet with a gentleness that snuggles you next to your child in bed, sharing her marvelous tales and creating lifelong memories and smiles.
Q. What were the first books that captured your imagination and gave you the thought you might like to write?
A. As a child, some of the first books that I loved were the old-time favorites like “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “Tom Sawyer” and “Chicken Little.” I loved stories that made you giggle and those with a happy ending. At 13, it seemed to me that reading and writing went together like peanut butter and jelly; you couldn’t have one without the other. Though I always loved reading, it wasn’t until I wrote a short story for extra credit for English class that got me interested in writing. When I saw that big fat A+ on my work, I was hooked. It gave me confidence in myself at the age of 13.
Q. Why children’s books? And, given your skill at creating and telling such masterful stories, have you considered other genres?
A. I didn’t always write children stories. That did not occur until after I took a course in writing for children and teens from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Before that, my short stories that I wrote for fun or as a hobby consisted of light romantic situations that were geared toward young adults in relationships. That particular writing venue came from me reading lots of Harlequin Romance books. In my stories that never took off, my characters were African-American. With the children genre, I feel that I have found my nitch and I am quite comfortable in it.
Q. Your startling article “The Diamonds of Africa” includes this line: “Do you really need to walk in the shoes of the poor, the destitute, the young and helpless before we give a helping hand?” Usually, when someone is filled with such passion and compassion, someone instrumental in their life planted the seed.
A. My mother was a very compassionate and caring person. However, I can remember as teen seeing TV commercials about poor and destitute children in other countries. Seeing kids with torn clothes and not enough food, insects flying around their faces, broke my heart. The only thing I could do was write about it, informing the world that children are still suffering, children too destitute to even have dreams of a better tomorrow. On my website blog, I have other articles on this topic.
Q. You just attended your first book signing in Washington, D.C. How did it feel meeting some of your fans?
A. Although I am an author with six published books, my latest book, “Broken Voices,” which is published by New Line Press, really opened doors for me as an author. I have never attended a book signing or been interviewed before with the rest of my books. I was in seventh heaven when invitations started coming in. Actually, I felt like a star at the Academy Awards. It was an awesome feeling standing there talking about all of my books. It took me two weeks to prepare. It was very exciting. At last, I was making my debut as an author, and the library event was my red carpet. At the end of the event, I walked away feeling accomplished, motivated and inventive. I was a bona fide author.
Q. The concept of books is evolving. Most of the time, when discussing the advent of e-books, the talk overlooks the feel of your child or grandchild on your lap sharing a book together. What is your take on the future of printed books?
A. Even in this modern world of technology, and staying up with the changing times and trends, I must admit I am a bit old fashioned. There is nothing like having a child sit on your lap listening to a story being read while they turn the pages. I believe old-fashioned paper-bound books will never be obsolete. I don’t see anything wrong with e-books; it gives authors and readers options. For myself, I am pleased that all of my books can be bought as either an e-book or a print copy, because it gives potential buyers choices. However, I don’t think that libraries or bookstores will ever do away with paper-bound books. Even in the 21st century, there are some things that just shouldn’t be changed.
Check out Rasheed's website at www.winonarasheed.com.
DA Kentner is a Freeport, Ill., author who can be reached through his blog, dakentner.blogspot.com or his e-mail, email@example.com. “Out of the Closet,” a romantic comedy by DA Kentner’s alter ego, KevaD, is available on DA’s blog and nobleromance.com.