J’can author Susan Smith hopes to inspire, encourage black children
Entrepreneur Susan Smith’s experience with colourism led her to write her first children’s book, Little Black Girl. Now, she is back with a story for boys as well called Hey Black Boy.
“ Hey Black Boy is about inspiring and encouraging young black boys to be confident, and to have good values and integrity, as well. After releasing the first book for the girls, one of the most asked question was, ‘What about the boys?’ So I decided to do this book to motivate black boys to be the best versions of themselves,” she told Living.
Smith was raised in a small fishing village named Windsor Forest in Mandeville. Coming from humble beginnings, her parents ensured she had everything she needed. Growing up, she was an avid reader and always had her nose in a book. So it was a natural course of action for her to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in literatures in English at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus.
Following that achievement, she went into business, but the hope remained to make a lasting impact with her writing. What better way to deal with the problem of confidence and perceptions of beauty pervading the world today than by empowering and uplifting the future generation of women. “I always wanted to be a children’s book writer, but I ended up doing so many other things. [Eventually] I came back to my original love,” she added.
Following the success of the first book — Little Black Girl — came the demand for the second. And this children’s book author was more than happy to oblige.
“Writing is a passion of mine, especially creative writing. So the book didn’t take long to write. The process was very easy, I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve and I just put pen to paper,” she said, adding, “But I had to find a good illustrator and a good editor.”
She continued, “The person who did the first one had a huge workload, so he couldn’t do this one. It took a while for me to get someone and I ended up working with this young lady from South Africa who goes by the name of Katie. And she did an amazing job.”
As for the editor, Smith is grateful that her stepmother, Janet Smith, could fulfil this significant role.
Since its official release on July 10, the self-published book has been receiving good reviews. “With all the ills that are happening with our nation’s boys, I wanted to do something to encourage them along this journey called life. We have to start nurturing [them] from they are young, so that is why I focus on children’s books,” she shared.
Her previous book speaks positively towards boosting self-esteem so she was happy to keep that narrative going, “ Little Black Girl is a book about building confidence and instilling self love in our girls. Kayra-Rose, the main character and the name of my daughter, shares a beautiful poem that her mom wrote for her called Little Black Girl. I have also included 10 affirmations for our young girls to practice. The main difference between the two books is that the new one was specifically written for little black boys,” she reflected.
This wordsmith juggles a great deal as an author, entrepreneur and mother. The big question is, how does she do it? Her answer: through time management and planning.
“I’m not going to say it is easy, but I do my best and I think that is good enough. I’m good with planning ahead and that has helped me a lot. I usually set aside my weekends for my creative projects and that helps me to keep on track. Being a mom has been the best role so far, I’ve been blessed with such an amazing daughter. What helps me to keep on track with her is setting aside time to go on walks, to play games, do learning exercises,” Smith highlighted.
She hopes that her book will one day be the first to crossover into the school curriculum. “It is important to instil confidence in our children. Outside of that, I hope this book and every book that I write will become a bestseller.”
Smith’s advice to aspiring authors is to begin the writing as soon as possible, and keep going, “Just write; put it on paper or type. Get the words out; that is the first step. From there, just keep pushing.”