Miss Lillian, Jonah's Kids Interview

For nearly 10 years, Miss Lillian, former member of the Red Hat Society and active member of Cedar Park Presbyterian Church, wrote theatre and film reviews for "Scoop U.S.A." She was the first African-American to serve as Publicist for Old Academy Players, a community theatre group in East Falls, the oldest community theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She as well created "Serene Scene Showcase," also a Philly spot where she engaged local poets to share their unique artistry.

Interviewed (May 2010) by RYCJ/OEBooks

What inspired you to write Jonah's Kids?

Jonah's Kids was originally a play. I wrote it approximately 10 years ago and the book is an adaptation. What prompted me to write the book is the meaningful message of God's love for all people, regardless of their station or stature in life.

How long did it take you to write?

Actually, it took me longer to adapt it than I expected. I am accustomed to writing plays and discovered early-on that the format was quite different. I wrote and "tweaked" it in 4 to 5 months.

What did you find most challenging about writing a children's book?

The great challenge that I faced was to write more descriptively than I did when creating play manuscripts. With playwriting, my actors brought the narrative to life along with, of course, scenic design, lighting and other technicals. But with book writing... it was my responsibility to create the narrative visuals.

How would you describe Jonah's Kids? Is it intended to be more humorous, inspirational, fairy-tale-ish, fun? And what importance did you place on writing it this way?

Jonah's Kids is a poignant and spiritually compelling book. It was written to be enlightening and to cause the reader to think. Though crafted with humor, the subject matter of bigotry is seriously prevalent even in 2010.

Will there be a Jonah's Kids 2 or 3?

My intention when I wrote Jonah's Kids was to adapt other of my plays into a trilogy using a character or two from one and moving their characterization through the other two books. Book sales from Jonah's Kids will determine if I can implement such a trilogy.

What were the first children's book you read as a child? And what were your favorites?

It is likely that the first children's books I read were of the Grimm's fairy tales genre. My favorite book, however, was Cinderella. I suppose I was fascinated over the theme that good triumphs over evil. It has always stuck with me that the simple truth of integrity has its own reward.

Is there any advice you can give writers exploring the idea of writing a children's book?

I can't give any valued advice other than to suggest a writing style that children can relate to and comprehend. It should be captivating and have an easy flow and fluency.

Lastly, but not least, are you planning any book-signings or events where readers can meet you and Jonah's Kids?

I have had 3 since my book release on April 20th. My publisher has and is developing a "local tour" and that's really quite exciting. On May 29th, I will be a vendor at the Art Sanctuary sponsored Black Writer's Book Fair from 10:00 A.M. 'til 6:00 P.M. (Broad & Cecil B. Moore Avenues). On June 12th, I will appear for a book signing at Borders, which is located at 80 E. Wynnewood Road in Wynnewood, Pa. from 1:00P.M. through 3:00 P.M. Willow Grove, Center City, Plymouth Meeting and Exton are being developed and firmed. I feel especially blessed as my background is in Advertising & Promotions.

Miss Lillian has written well over 40 plays and productions (produced in the 80’s); all Christian drama full-length plays, short plays, chancel drama and themed sketches, some produced in churches. Titles include: Who Killed First Greater New Reformed Mt. Full of Peace Church, Waiting by the Window, Mama's Prayer, The Red Room, The Checkered Tablecloth, Who Wrote The Sermon, God's Gift (female version), God's Gift (male version), The Dream Is Still Alive, Steward's Ship and others.