#VaReads Writer of the Week: Marc Boston

How did you get your start as a writer?

I’ve always been a lover of books. I grew up surrounded my them as both of my parents were lovers of books, with overflowing bookshelves and piles stacked high on nearly every flat surface. Many years later, I found myself endeavoring to take on the most daring role of my lifetime—as stay-at-home-dad to first one, then two, then three daughters! Among my numerous job descriptions, I became primary bedtime-story-reader.

I relished the opportunity to read to my girls most evenings as my desire was to expose them to the joys of books, just as I had been. It didn’t take long, however, before I noticed something rather disconcerting: the obvious underrepresentation of people of color in children’s literature. It wasn’t until my daughters began to ask me why there are so few books with prominent African-American characters in them that I decided that I would need to take action.

I never dreamed of becoming a writer; this was a career option that was never on my radar. But since my attempts at finding the books I wished to read to my daughters had come up short, and they’d finally acknowledged that something was amiss, instead of sitting back and complaining about the problem, I got out my pen!

Describe your work in three sentences or less.

I attempt to write inspirational stories that contain messages of self-empowerment and matters of the heart, while addressing issues we face in society today (in a fun way) with the use of rhyme and rhythm. My stories are inspired by my daughters and all their shenanigans; which I attentively observe, and attempt to translate them into a story. Technically, I write picture books for children, however I hope that all readers regardless of age, will glean something from my tales and see themselves in the characters I create.

How does living in Virginia influence your writing?

I was born in Baltimore and grew up in Kansas City. Not only did my family and I move to Virginia four years ago, to be nearer to relatives, but I was also excited to soak up and immerse myself in the vibrant writing scene here in Charlottesville. It’s really amazing the number of writers who reside in Virginia. It’s interesting to note that I was writing in a coffee shop recently and glanced over to the next table and who should be sitting there but Jane Friedman! This is the sort of thing that can happen to a writer who lives in Virginia. My writing has taken off since relocating to Virginia, having only written two stories while living in Kansas City but over twenty finished here. Virginia is for lovers, and writers too.

What’s your favorite part of your most recent book?

I really enjoyed exploring the self-empowering theme of my new children’s picture book entitled, What About Me? I was inspired to write the book by watching the interactions between my daughters during play time. Parents and children with siblings may recognize the central character: in this case, the younger sister who is eager to get the attention of her older sisters who seem oblivious to her appeals to join in their games. As the story progresses, the little sister learns that sometimes by using a little ingenuity and imagination, we can become our own best friend. It’s important for us all to know that it is not essential to seek validation from others. We can learn to be comfortable with who we are, and by accepting responsibility for own happiness, begin to believe in ourselves.

What are you working on next?

Currently I’m working on promoting my new book, What About Me? which was just released in July 2017. I’m developing a children’s chapter book, a book of children’s poetry, and as I mentioned, I’ve written many several manuscripts that we will publish in the near future.

To learn more about Marc Boston, visit his website at marcboston.com.

Through this series, we hope to showcase the depth and breadth of our state-wide literary community while also encouraging readers in the Commonwealth and elsewhere to challenge themselves to read more books by Virginia writers. If you have an author you’d like to suggest for this series, please email sdlawson@virginia.edu with details. Our focus is on writers with books that have been published in the past two years (self-published is welcome as long as the writer’s most recent book is held in at least one public library in the state).