One-on-One with Bestselling Author, Tami Charles

Photo courtesy of YouTube

Photo courtesy of YouTube

Ayana Sears and Gurwin Singh

In honor of Women’s History Month, on March 24, 2022, Newspaper Club had the honor of meeting an author here from our own town. Tami Charles, the New York Times bestseller of “All Because You Matter”, has written numerous books for young adults and children. 

“I knew I could write stories that could impact students out of the four walls of the classroom,” Mrs. Charles stated.

 As a teacher herself in Linden and Roselle for fourteen years, she was devoted to teaching her students all types of literature. It was actually her students that encouraged her to write.

Tami would write very early in the morning, before school and late at night. She was rejected constantly by publishers for 8 years while she continued teaching. Then in 2014, she received her very first “yes”  and was looked at by 8 different literary agents before choosing one. 

 Some of her favorite authors were Lois Lowry and Beverly Cleary. Growing up, many books she read as a child didn’t have children of color or were from African-American authors. This fact motivated Mrs. Charles to become an author and publish her books. 

“Children of all backgrounds should be able to identify with someone,” Mrs. Charles stated. 

“All Because You Matter” was inspired by her son and a desire to have her writing show a “full range of the human experience.”   Like Mrs. Charles had said, “What kid wouldn’t want to be told they matter?” 

How did you overcome the fear of publishing something that may not be accepted?

When asked this question, Tami Charles said that she still hasn’t gotten over that fear. Although many authors have multiple books published, not everything written is published. She still gets denied, but as she stated, “You can’t beat fear without stepping into your fear.” 

Mrs. Charles’ husband had told her, “Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do, but better.” This practice is what influences a person to improve.

Is your writing a way of representing yourself through words? 

When Mrs. Charles writes, she incorporates a piece of her and her family. Not only does she wish her books to be enjoyed by others, but she wants her books to inspire children and young adults reading them. 

For example, she discussed with our group how she used to be in a band and that was an idea that she wanted to incorporate into her most recent young adult novel, “Muted,” which is written in a poetic, lyrical style.

What advice does she give to young, aspiring writers?

Mrs. Charles told our students to think of it as a “horse race” and put blockers on. She said that, “Writers need to focus on their own writing and keep their own style.”  She also encouraged authors to “throw the rules out the door.” She explained how it was best to “just write” and get all of their ideas out and ready to share.

When you leave this Earth and people Google you, what do you want them to know?

Tami Charles said, “When I leave this earth and someone goes and Googles me I want people to see that I wrote stories that were happy…”. 

We are so thankful for the time we were able to spend with Tami Charles.  She is a great inspiration to not only women, but all aspiring writers and students.