Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Q&A with Stephanie L. Jones




Stephanie L. Jones is the author of the new children's picture book Giving Gal and the Christmas Cookie Extravaganza. Her other books include Giving Gal. A former police officer, she lives in Indiana.


Q: This is the second book in your Giving Gal series--how did you create your character Gabi, and what inspired this latest book?


A: Even though my parents did not have much money or material possessions, I was raised a Giving Gal. My mom was always baking and cooking, taking us to visit the elderly, shut-ins, and those at the nursing homes. Much of Gabi was inspired by my childhood.


The latest book was inspired by an annual event hosted by my best friend. We’ve been friends since kindergarten. The baking weekend started over a decade ago, I joined in on the fun five years ago, and I loved all the aspects of the weekend. Family and friends, making memories, working as a team to create delicious goodies, and then giveaway to those that serve us every day (teachers, police officers, etc.).


Q: What do you think Angelina Valieva's illustrations add to the story?


A: Angelina has been a gift from God. She somehow takes what I envision in my mind and creates vivid, engaging, and heartfelt illustrations that both children and adults love. Her illustrations add depth, emotion, and reader engagement to the story.

Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: We are all different. Whether it is how we look or our abilities, everyone likes to be included and has something to contribute. The book highlights how to be a good friend, the power of the gift of encouragement, and that we all have strengths and weaknesses. And because we are all different, when we work together, magical moments happen!


Q: How did you first get interested in writing children's picture books?


A: Writing children’s books was not on my radar. I had previously written two nonfiction books and a prayer and gratitude journal. I had become friends with a well-known children’s author and pitched the idea of Giving Gal to her, as the character seemed to be rattling around in my head, and she wouldn’t leave me. She thought the idea was worth pursuing.


We never know what will come of an idea until we try. One day, floating in a kayak, I jotted down a story on my phone. As they say, the rest is history.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Book three in the Giving Gal series is written. I’m just waiting on Angelina to wrap up another project.


I’ve started 23 other books, including a fiction book. With a new year coming, I’m trying to figure out, what book to start next. But one that keeps bubbling up is about the time I spent in a treehouse, a tent, and living without a staircase.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: At the age of 39, six months before I launched my first book, The Giving Challenge, I discovered I was dyslexic. When I speak in schools, I always love to highlight that even though I have this disability, it hasn’t prevented me from pursuing a life as an author.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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