Welcome to my blog interview with children’s author, Danielle Cotton, author of Tajja and the Legend of the Queens. I’ve been friends with this wonderful woman for a decade and am always amazed at her strength and passion. She’s written a delightful book with a poignant message about embracing your heritage and taking responsibility.
Danielle Cotton is a children’s author, history teacher, and proud mother of two high-energy girls, Sofia and Zoe. She writes to create books that celebrate their black beauty and the legacies of strong black women in history. When she isn’t on an epic adventure with her daughters, she’s trying to find a sunny spot in which to write or read.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Writing has always been something I resort to when I want or need to process my world. It’s long been my best mode of communication. I have a slight journal addiction. But I really decided I wanted to pen children’s books when, as a history teacher, I was finding it difficult to find stories for my daughters that told their history beyond freedom from slavery and the fight for civil rights. While these stories are VERY important, they are not the only stories. Black women and girls are the descendants of legendary queens and I wanted my daughters to have access to those stories especially since I know as an educator that they won’t be exposed to them in school. So I decided to take my pen from my journals and apply it to the pages of children’s books inspired by my daughters and their royal inheritance.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was inspired by Queen Nefertiti. She often takes a back seat to her prominent husband, Akenaten, in Egyptian history, so I wanted to start by emphasizing her legacy. She was one of the most popular queens in Egyptian history and her bust is known throughout the world. I thought bringing her story to light would be a great start because a lot of people are familiar with her name as being attached to her husband, but don’t know much about her as a queen in her own right.
I derived the title from the Swahili meaning of the name Taj as “exalted” or “royal.” It’s the same meaning as the wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal. I played on that name and gave my protagonist the name Tajja to harken to her (and all little black girls’) royal lineage.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The message I hope readers will take from each book in the series is that there are so many untold stories of powerful, dynamic, beautiful, wise black women that don’t make it into the pages of our textbooks. I hope it emboldens little girls of every hue to see in themselves that same power, dynamism, beauty, and wisdom!
What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on the next book in the series, which will center on Califa, the black queen that the state of California was named after!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest (or first) book?
In my next book in the series, I plan to go a little deeper into the history of the queen at the center of the story. I wish I’d told more of the background story of Nefertiti in the first. But I’m proud of the work and I hope it will compel readers to learn more about her.
Who designed the covers?
My illustrator is Jasmine Mills. She is phenomenal and was able to capture exactly what I envisioned, even though I had a hard time articulating it.
And I agree, the illustrations are gorgeous.
THIS OR THAT—The Speed Round
Which do you prefer – Reading or writing? Both! I write in my books as I read. Ha!
Writing during the night or day? First thing in the morning
Writing from home or someplace else? Home in a quiet sunny room
Reading a ebook or print? PRINT
Buy books online or buy in a bookstore? Bookstore
Weather: Hot or Cold? Cold
Music or Silence? Silence
Classic Fairy tales or Fairy tale Retellings? Classic
Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla
The Beach or The Mountains? Mountains
The World being taken over my zombies or sexy blood sucking vampires? Ohhh… Vamps
Time travel to the future or past? As a black woman… Future. Haha.
Facebook or twitter? Facebook. Twitter gives me anxiety.
Being able to fly or being able to go invisible? Invisible (I’m an introvert)
Bookmark or Dog eared? Bookmark
1st character POV or 3rd character POV? 1st
City or Country? Country
Pen or Pencil? Pen
Polk-a-dots or Stripes? Dots
Pancakes or Waffles? Waffles
Books or Movies? Books then movies
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Books or Movies? Books then movies
Elbows the size of pumpkins or knees the size of watermelons? Hahaha. Knees, I guess
I hope you enjoyed this interview with this up and coming author. Please take a moment to check out her book on Amazon and add it to your TBR list (link below). If you enjoy the book, the best way to support an author is to write a review.
Thank you for reading.