Sunday, November 15, 2009
AAMBC Winter Tours w/ Natasha Usher
Interview w/ Natasha Hunts
When did you begin writing, and who nurtured you as a writer? Do you write for children only? What inspired your decision to write children's books?
Unhappy with the ending of the many of the books I read, I began creating my own endings in elementary school. My efforts were nurtured by my teachers and my family, especially my grandmother. Since I’m a middle grades school teacher and deal with children on a daily basis, I’m always on the look out for a great book for my students. What better way to know what they’re reading than by writing the books myself.
Who are some of your favorite children's authors? How do their works differ from the children's authors of your childhood?
I don’t read a lot of books by “new authors”, but if I do read something, it is usually a Walter Dean Myers novel or something by Sharon Draper. I’m still drawn to the classics, I guess, of my childhood. By classics, I mean books that I was introduced to in school.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading (and for the second time) Hill Harper’s Letters to a Young Sister. It’s such an amazing novel.
As an educator, what do you feel that we children need to see more in their books? How will you help fill this void?
As an educator, I just want children to read; it doesn’t matter to me what they read. Still, I would like to see more humor and less seriousness in books. To me, books have always served as an escape, and in this world, I think children need all the hideaways they can get. I also believe that there is a great need for more children’s books with African American characters. When I go to the bookstores, it’s always hard for me to find good stories (for my children) that revolve around the lives of African Americans.That’s why in THE HUNTS, I created a funny story around a group of African American siblings.
Briefly tell us about The Hunts and where did you get the idea for this story.
I have a colorful cast of nieces and nephews, eight of them, who keep me in stitches. They inspired the mischievous bunch of Hunts.
What is your targeted age group audience? How are readers and their parents and/or teachers responding?
My targeted age group is 9-12. So far the response to my book has been positive. Parents and teachers are telling me that they are laughing just as much as the children.
What advice would you like to share with aspiring writers?
Write down every idea you have, no matter how crazy or whacky it seems to you or other people. The best stories come from unusual ideas. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. You only fail when you talk yourself out of trying. And of course, good luck!
Natasha Usher Bio-
Natasha Usher is a wife, a mother, and a middle grades teacher who lives outside of Atlanta Georgia. When not writing or nurturing young minds, Natasha enjoys reading, watching movies, photography, and cooking. She is a graduate of Mercer University where she majored in Business and earned her initial teaching certification. At seven years old, after being denied a role in an elementary school play because of a lack of character roles, Natasha decided she wanted to be a writer. She wanted to write plays and stories that had enough roles to keep all children happy. Since then, she has been sharing her stories with family, friends, and anyone who will listen. The Hunts is her second novel for young adults.
The Hunts Synopsis
Victoria, Luther V, Tyler, Tyger, and DougRoss Hunt. Sure these five African American children are named after their parents’ favorite celebrities, but they still have a lot going for them. Despite their young ages, the Hunts are very resourceful. They have managed to live alone ever since their parents abandoned them. Their survival strategy is quite simple - if it is not given to them, they simply take it.
When the Hunts decide life is too boring in their small town of Acon, Georgia, they decide a trip to the big city of Atlanta is just what they need. The fact they have no money for the trip doesn’t faze them at all.
After the Hunts’ attempt to raise money fails, the townspeople, eager for a quiet weekend, take up a trip collection fund for them. When most of the people hand over their credit cards, the Hunts are on their way. Atlanta and the Hunts will never be the same again.
http://www.thehuntsstory.info – official book site
http://www.myspace.com/runningwildacon - myspace site