An Interview with Colleen H. Robley Blake: Author
Colleen: Thank you Sylvia. I was born and spent most of my childhood in Trinidad, West Indies with my grandparents and moved to Brooklyn, New York at age twelve to live with my parents. I attended Lefferts Junior High School, Prospect Heights High School and Medgar Evers College.
I currently reside in Connecticut with my two boys, Stephen and Alex, whom I use for inspiration for my non-fiction children picture books. My collected works include I Can’t Wait Till I’m Five; Mom, I Fired the Babysitter! Living With Mom, Spending Time With Dad and Don’t You Wish Your Momma Could Cook Like Mine?
Sylvia: Wow, I am sure that is fun for the boys! What inspired you to write your first book?
Colleen: When my youngest son Alex was 4 years old, he complained about not being able to do everything his older brother Stephen did. He wanted to go to school, play baseball and get his own library card. One day I decided to write down everything he complained about and that’s how my first book, “I Can’t Wait Till I’m Five” became alive.
Sylvia: How cute! Do you have any advice for other writers?
Colleen: Yes I do! My advice is to keep doing what you enjoy; continue writing about your interests. Don’t give up.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Colleen: The most effective and successful marketing technique I have used is handing out official Story Time chocolate candies of the characters in my book which helps the kids get excited about reading the books.
Sylvia: Excited and Hyper! Ha…Ha! Why should we buy your book?
Colleen: My books are accessible to all young children who are faced with situations that seem unfair to them. They are stories of actual events of Stephen and Alex to which kids of all ages can relate. It shows kids that they are not alone in whatever situation they are in. I remember the first time I read “Living with Mom, Spending Time with Dad” (which is about divorce). I was very nervous about introducing the book, but before I could get a couple pages in this little girl raised her hand and said, “My Mom and Dad are getting a divorce because they are always fighting”. My books are also prose in a rhyming scheme which makes reading fun and enjoyable. Parents who want to test their children’s level of comprehension can use the reading exercise at the end of the book to spur an academic discussion with their kids.
Sylvia: Is there a special place you prefer when you write?
Colleen: Yes, the basement of my house……that’s where my office is.
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Colleen: I am currently working on releasing my next book, Don’t You Wish Your Momma Could Cook like Mine? I am also working on a CD titled, Respectfully, Alex which is filled with songs of the books I have written and will write in the future. I just released the first song on the CD, Don’t You Wish Your Momma Could Cook Like Mine? By Rapper-Man which is available on ITunes, Amazon and Reverb nation.
Sylvia: Wow, that’s great! What is your POWER word? Why this word?
Colleen: My POWER word is KARMA. How people treat you is their Karma…How you react is yours. I love that!
Sylvia: KAR—MA! I like that! How does Alex feel about your books?
Colleen: Whenever I do book readings the kids cannot get enough of Alex and his adventures. As soon as he gets home I tell him how much the kids loved the stories and the many questions they asked about him. He loves it. When I first started writing, Stephen and Alex told me no one would buy the books. I remember when Alex invited me for career day at his school and introduced me as an author not as a 411 operator (my occupation) as I thought he would. That made my day.
Sylvia: Awwww, that was sweet. Alex was proud of his mama the author! Why did you choose to write in rhyme?
Colleen: When Alex was four everyday he would watch his brother leave for school and ask “why can’t I go”. The first time his brother responded with, “You can’t go to school because you’re not cool”. I sat down at my kitchen table and wrote those words down not knowing at the time that they would flow so well. Everything just fell into place after that. I also love Dr. Seuss books.
Sylvia: Why did you provide reading exercises in the back?
Colleen: I can remember growing up and having a hard time in school writing essays. Oh how I dreaded when it was time to read a book and write about it afterwards. I wanted my books to help the reader at an earlier age to understand the story much better and also personalize the questions.
Sylvia: Colleen, it’s been a pleasure. How can readers purchase your book and contact you.
Colleen: Certainly, my contact information is as follows: