OMG! I can’t believe it, but this is my 100th blog post! To celebrate, below is my first (of hopefully more) author interviews and my first (again, of hopefully more) book giveaway! Enjoy!
As I shared in this previous post, I recently got to review a book written by a local author, Danual Berkley. And as an added bonus, he agreed to let me interview him for my blog. During our conversation, we covered some of everything–from his childhood to his writing process to his own trials #RaisingReaders. Here’s what I learned:
I think the story of how he became an author is pretty original:
“I actually became a writer by accident. When I was in the 11th grade, my teacher, who was Mrs. Homer at the time, made it mandatory that everyone had to do the Young Author’s competition. She said we would either do a short story or a poem and being the 11th grade teenager I was, I was gonna do the poem. I decided to write a poem about a bully, who had bullied me in elementary school. I didn’t want to do the whole, sad feel bad for me, so I wrote it from the bully’s perspective.” Danual ended up winning 3rd place in the whole state with that poem!
He started writing again while he was deployed to Iraq. “My job was to escort convoys from one place to another. So I had an extremely dangerous job, so to escape my reality and to kind of enjoy life, I would start writing again. I would start writing adventurous stories…about these made up characters in made up places.” After a while, his buddies began requesting to hear his adventure poetry and after their tour in Iraq, one of them even suggested that he consider writing as a career, and that started him on this journey.
He has a lot of ideas when it comes to what he wants kids to get from his books:
“The first thing is, there’s a lack of representation for children of color. That’s the main thing I want to do, I want to close that gap…The second thing is the educational value for non-blacks. I want to educate non-African-American children on what Black culture is. A larger topic is the negative stereotypes about black men in general. They say that black men don’t raise their kids or we don’t get married or settle down. In my book, you clearly see a father who is devoted to his family, to his children.” Mr. Berkley wants to make sure that men like himself, and life experiences like his become more commonplace in children’s books than they are now, and he’s doing his part through his books to help that.
I had to know what his favorite childhood books were:
“My favorite children’s book would have to be Green Eggs and Ham, because believe it or not, my nickname is Sam. I don’t know how they got Sam out of Danual, but my nickname is Sam. My mom she would read Green Eggs and Ham to me, so it was my favorite.” Also, when he was in high school, Danual really got into Shel Silverstein’s poetry, which of course has influenced his current writing.
Here’s what we can expect from him in the near future:
This is the cover of a book of poetry that Danual is working on, but he also has more books with tales of adventure coming with the characters of his first book, Davy’s Pirate Adventure.
And of course, he has his own stories and trials when it comes to raising his own kids to be readers (his sons are 7 & 2):
“Well for the youngest one its real easy…my wife has this package that comes every month that has a book in it that we read. My oldest, when he’s in school, he has a reading assignment every day. Usually how we try to do it is 15-30 minutes of reading a day, but its getting increasingly difficult because the older one doesn’t want to read, he’d rather be on his tablet.” So Danual and his wife have tried to make a concerted effort to do a couple of things: 1) they have been trying to make reading fun, starting with helping their 7 year old use expression when reading and 2) making sure they are reading themselves in front of their children. As his wife told him, “You can’t be an author and have kids who don’t read!”
I really enjoyed my time talking with Danual, he is very easy to talk to and I appreciated hearing his story as well as his drive to share his story and his books with as many people as possible. You can find out more about him at https://www.danualberkley.com/.
Another super cool thing about Danual: He gave me some books to GIVEAWAY!! So, you have some options. I’m giving away 2 copies of Davy’s Pirate Adventures on Twitter, so you can head on over to my twitter page @DMetzke so you can enter to win! But, he also gave me a book pack, which includes a copy of Davy’s Pirate Adventures AND his first book of poetry, Wonderful Magical Place AND two hardback Princess Truly books, written by Kelly Greenawalt, and illustrated by Amariah Rauscher, who illustrates Danual’s work. You can enter to win that pack below: