Kelly Santana-Banks Interview

Kelly Santana-Banks is a writer of nonfiction and children’s books, and a former early childhood teacher and caregiver. When she was young, she loved to play teacher with her sister, cousins, and neighbors. By the time she became a teenager, she had refused to read teenage novels, and instead dove into her mother’s “library” and read adult romance. As a young adult, she never considered teaching as a career, but little did she know that her childhood make-believe would pave the way to what would become her passion.

What inspired you to write?
My stories are inspired by real-life experiences. I have a background in early childhood education and many years of experience working with children in the classroom and as a caregiver. Because all of my stories have an educational moral, a have a lot of material to cover. For instance, Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember, in particular, was inspired by field trips to museums and zoos I participated in while being a teacher. Also, observing children and learning how they interact with the science around them, gave me a plethora of ideas to create with.

Was your inspiration sudden, or did it take time?
Sudden. I can be anywhere, anytime, and an idea just comes up. I rush to write it down so I can revisit and develop later.

Did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
I try to follow an outline. But for the most part, especially when I'm just conceiving the story, I throw the thoughts on the paper. Later on, after I take a break from the piece ( a couple of days or so), I revise and rearrange for better flow.

Do you work alone, or get encouragement from family and friends?
Except for the inspiration in everyday life situations, the entire writing process is done by me. However, I have a team of cheerleaders (close family and friends) who fuel my fire for writing and the creative process. And that certainly helps me move forward.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
For the nursery rhymes, the most difficult part is to balance out the ideas with the rhythm of the rhyme. Not only that, but because I'm writing for a group of young children, I need to find words that are easy for them to understand and also fun to repeat.

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
For my newest book, when I saw the first sketch from the illustrator I was in AWE. When she showed me the first finalized illustrations ( with the final touches and colors), I started crying of happiness. I guess when I witness my characters being brought up to life is an indescribable feeling!

Are you working on a new book at the moment?
I'm working on promotions of my upcoming release, Giggly Bear's Fun Trip in the Yellow Bus. And I already have the draft for another story about body shaming.

Do you have any book giveaways, contests or events coming up?
Yep! I just started a Thunderclap campaign to promote my new book and its main message- SAFETY on the school bus for young children. I'm gathering support, and if you would like to help Giggly spread the word, here is the link Needless to say, we deeply appreciate it!

What gets in the way of your creativity?
Distraction! I have a serious problem with social media; although I love it ( and it has helped me tons), it consumes a lot of my time. I love to engage with my crowd in different social channels, but I admit this gets in the way of writing sometimes.

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
As humans, we will not be able to please everybody. And people will always have opinions about things, whether that is a pat on the back or a negative remark. I prefer to learn from constructive feedback and use that to better my craft. Finding ways to educate people is a good alternative.

What is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
I had fond memories of getting together with my entire family (which is big) for celebrations when I was young. We used to eat, dance, and have fun all night long.

Do you have a favorite quote?
I have two: "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." - William Shakespeare AND “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace & gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

What is your favorite show on TV?
I can't get enough of Narco on Netflix, How to Get Away with Murder ( ABC), and currently, This is Us (NBC).

Favorite movie?
This is a hard one because I have a lot of movies at the top of my list. To make things easier, I'm a big fan of Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen's movies. One example of an all time favorite is Goodfellas.

Favorite book?
I have too many to list here. It safe to say that any book from Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steel could make the top.

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Walt Disney. I was always an admirer of his story and how he made out as a successful entrepreneur.

Is there a talent you wish you had?
Illustration and graphic design. I wished I could draw beautiful illustrations for my books.

What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I had a near-death experience when I was really young.

Describe yourself in 3 words!
Loyal, Compassionate, and Tenacious.