I had the privilege of meeting Dolores Andral at the WNBA Author’s Showcase in Charlotte, NC on March 7. Her first book, a picture book called Prissy on the Moon, came out in August, 2014. Here is the synopsis from Dolores’ website:
Prissy on the Moon is the first in a new series of children’s books centered around a young girl named Prissy. In this title, Prissy is bored and unhappy, so she wants to leave home and live on the moon! As she lets her imagination run wild, she jumps on the furniture, she uses her outside voice indoors, and ultimately crashes into her momma. When she learns about a party her family is throwing, will the excitement of party favorites and friends be enough to keep her grounded on earth?
LP: Welcome, Dolores, and congratulations on the publication of your first book. Tell us a little about your background, your family, schooling, etc.
DA: I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where I lived with my parents and five siblings (including a twin brother) in our family home. I went to public school in New York, then a state school, which is still one of the premier public schools in the nation. I eventually received an MFA in writing from Queens University in Charlotte where I currently live with my husband and four kids.
LP: Have you always wanted to be a writer? And if so, have you found encouragement along the way from family and friends?
DA: I have always had a passion for writing, though I never thought of writing as a career. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I started writing seriously. It actually began because I attempted to create a magazine/newsletter for “twenty-somethings.” Though it never made it off the ground, it started me on my journey to writing.
LP: Where did you get your idea for the Prissy on the Moon series?
DA: Prissy came about organically, as I’m sure many children’s books do, from the antics of my own children. When my oldest daughter was a toddler, she practically screamed when she talked. We’d constantly tell her she wasn’t on the moon. The running joke was that if she were on the moon, she could do whatever she liked: run, jump, and shout, which is precisely what Prissy does in the story.
LP: Tell us about Laurel View Press which you founded. Are you aiming to publish other authors as well as your own work?
DA: My husband and I created LVP for the sole purpose of bringing our books to life. Instead of bemoaning the often talked-about but unchanging lack of diverse characters in books, we wanted to create the type of diversity we were seeking.
Also, I was aware that unless you were the author and illustrator, the publishing industry didn’t want you to bring your own artist. I also knew that the publishers ultimately had the final say in what the characters looked like, and I wanted to control that aspect of it.
We are not currently seeking to publish other artists at this time because I believe in order to be of service to them we would need to be experts in this field, and we’re still learning.
LP: From your blog and also in conversation, I’ve learned that diversity is on your mind. Tell us how you see your book fitting into the popular http://weneeddiversebooks.org movement.
DA: Diversity is all about inclusion and not exclusion. Despite what some conspiracy theorists may champion, the recognition of others is not the death or genocide of any group.
Prissy is diverse not only in her look, but also in her story. If you look on any average bookstore shelf, you don’t see many characters who look like her.
Sadly, the majority of books published by and about blacks are in reference to slavery and the civil rights movement. If we were to look at this in terms of gender rather than race, perhaps we would begin to paint a better picture. Imagine if 90% of the books on the shelves were for and about men. Imagine now if only about 3% were about women. And now imagine if most of the books about women were about how to keep a home, how to have babies, how to make your husband happy. What if the only selections in the libraries were about the life and times when women didn’t have any rights, following women on their journey to be educated, reading the first time women could vote.
And while those books exist and are important, those are not the only books about women available—thankfully so. And why? Because we know women are not only smart and educated, they are teachers, and CEO’s, and athletes, and inventors, and writers, and astronauts, etc. Their stories are not pigeonholed into what once was, but are reflective of what is, what’s coming, and what we dream of.
And that’s how we have to see others. Not only in the context of narrowly limited roles.
So my goal with Prissy and the Prissy series is to introduce a girl who happens to be of color and who has a normal, fun, and sometimes magical existence in this world.
LP: Your husband is the artist, but I understand that was somewhat of a surprise. Tell us about that.
DA: Every time I think about how he came to illustrate my book I see it more as a love story. I was the damsel in distress who couldn’t draw to save her life. He was the heroic knight who came to my aid with pencil in hand. I had attempted to be the author/illustrator and in an effort save me from myself (and to show me just how bad my drawing was), he took the exact picture I drew and did his own rendition. Of course his was vastly superior and that’s how he became the artist.
He has no formal training, although he did take a painting class in college, but he really didn’t know his own artistic strength.
LP: How many books do you envision in your series? Do you have other projects lined up as well?
DA: There are about 9 stories currently written with Prissy as the protagonist. We are working on illustrating the second story now. I have a couple of other children’s stories and two adult novels that I am currently seeking agent representation for.
LP: What is the best nugget of wisdom you have gleaned from the writing life so far?
DA: Writing is subjective and hard. I think many people dream of being among the people who write books in a few months, get a 6- and 7-figure writing contract, then get a movie deal. The other 99% of writers might find the road from written work to published book to be a long road. It’s important not to give up.
LP: Thanks so much for joining us today and offering a signed copy of your book! I wish you and your husband every success in your publishing pursuits. Readers, leave a comment if you want to be entered in the drawing which will be announced next Monday. You can “like” Dolores on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PrissyWorld or check out her website at www.prissyworld.com.