Board Member Spotlight: Victoria Watkins
Project Style relies on the drive, dedication and diversity of its volunteers. We are pleased to highlight (and, yes, brag about!) our Vice President, Victoria Watkins, Author of Little Valerie and Her Big World of Options.
We sat down with Victoria to ask her about what sparked the idea to write a children's book and the inspiration behind the story...
Who were some of your favorite author’s as a child?
My absolute favorite author as a child was Ezra Jack Keats. I also had a lot of Judy Blume. I loved her books. I enjoyed the R.L. Stein series, and I really liked poetry, so I read a lot of Shel Silverstein and Bell Hooks.
What inspired you to write Little Valarie And Her Big World of Options? I was inspired by some of the encouraging stories I saw about athletes during the 2016 Summer Olympics. So many of them “weren’t supposed to be there”, and their stories of success inspired me to do my part in making sure little ones, especially girls, know how big the world is, and how many options they have--even outside the space they live in.
Tell us about the main character, where did you get the idea from? The main character is a precocious little girl, full of questions, wonder, and energy. She’s the girl we see with her parents in the stores, chatting and asking questions. I got the idea after thinking about how I could do my part in making sure girls, and boys, like Valarie would know early on, there’s so much out there for them. I, as always, am also inspired by my mom, who Valarie is named after. She’s an Educator of over 35 years, and is a tireless advocate for reading.
What do you hope children take away from reading this book? I hope children read this book and know they can do anything they set their minds to. They have more options in life than they realize. I hope it encourages them to be fearless and live in a way that sees the world as theirs, and without any limits.
Your book was reviewed by toddler Jayde Kamille on her social media channels, how did that make you feel? I was so excited to get a book review from Jayde. She’s exactly the kind of girl Valarie was patterned after. Her zest for life is so pure and exciting. She’s infectious with joy, and that’s unmatched. I’m so thankful to have her as one of the 1st supporters of Little Valarie.
With a busy schedule like yours, how did you manage to find time to write? It’s been a challenge, but I actually hand wrote the story while getting my car’s oil changed one day almost 3 years ago. This book has been a long time coming. I had the idea in my heart for a while, and there was no time like being captive at the car dealership to sit down and make it happen. It took me a bit longer to get things rolling, but my amazing illustrator, Rachel Gadson of ILA Creative Studio, has been beyond magnificent in making this project come to life.
Can we expect to see more writing from you in the future? YES! The plan is for this book to be the 1st in a series. You’ll see Valarie learn about many different topics in school and in extra-curricular activities. She’ll be trying the world out, seeing what’s what, and hopefully landing on merchandise and swag, as only Valarie can. More to come for sure!