Monday, May 18, 2015

Interview with Young Author and Entrepreneur Chental-Song Bembry

Chental-Song Bembry is the creator, author, and illustrator of The Honey Bunch Kids series, which she uses to promote literacy and entrepreneurship in youth. The Honey Bunch Kids is a humorous book series for boys and girls ages 7-12. The series follows the adventures of a group of middle-schoolers who learn the meaning of true friendship, respect, and getting along with others. You can purchase her books directly here.

Chental-Song was recently honored at the 2015 BET Honors as an "Early Riser" for her accomplishments as a young author and motivational speaker. Last month, she was honored as a Making a Difference Girl at the 2015 BET Black Girl's Rock awards show for her commitment to community service and education. 

Tell us about your book series THE HONEY BUNCH KIDS. What inspired you to write these books? 

I created The Honey Bunch Kids when I was 10 years old. At this age, I loved to read, write, and I loved to watch cartoons. I created three cartoon characters of my own and called them "The Honey Bunch Kids." When I turned 11, my mother sent me to a writing camp at Middlesex County College, where I wrote a story about my three characters, and I called that story The Honey Bunch Kids. In April 2010, The Honey Bunch Kids was published, and based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received from boys and girls, I wrote two more books: The Honey Bunch Kids: School's In Session (Book 1) and The Honey Bunch Kids: School's In Session (Book 2). Throughout each book, I highlight elements of African-American history, group dynamics, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.

In addition to being a writer, you are also a literacy advocate. Why are reading and writing so important, especially for young people? 

After publishing the first book in The Honey Bunch Kids series, I started the "Chental-Song Literacy Campaign," which allows me to travel to schools, libraries, and churches to speak to youth on the importance of literacy, goal setting, and the impact of reading on academic success. I believe that reading and writing are so important for young people because with reading comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes confidence. High confidence levels create the drive to achieve any and all goals in life. Writing allows freedom of expression and a chance to showcase creativity. It is an escape, and when people write, they discover stories inside of them that might have never gotten a chance to be exposed. The better the reader, the stronger the writer. When young people embrace literacy, they will be more inclined to tackle difficult homework assignments, and will be able to converse with others at a higher level. Literacy and education are crucial components to the success of a young person, and this is why I am so dedicated to the advancement of literacy in all children. 

You were a busy student in school when you first published THE HONEY BUNCH KIDS, and now you are a college student. What is your writing schedule? When/how do you find time to write? 

Currently, I attend Hampton University as a sophomore Broadcast Journalism major with a minor in Leadership Studies. Before sitting down to write anything, I make sure that my assignments are completed. I write (and draw) whenever I have the free time, and whenever a great idea hits me. If I cannot sit down at the computer to fully flesh out an idea, I will jot it down in my notes. I usually have more time to write and develop story ideas during Christmas, Spring, and Summer breaks. I always make sure to put energy into my craft each and every day, because energy creates movement in a positive direction.

Very true! What is your biggest advice for people (especially young people) going after their dreams and facing their own challenges in life? 

My biggest advice for young people (and all people) who are going after their dreams is to push forward, never settle, and do not give up. There will always be roadblocks and challenges along your journey to success, but you must remember that each challenge is put in your path to help you grow and develop into a stronger person. Do not fear challenges. Embrace them. Always remember that nothing of greatness comes without struggle. It is through hard work and difficulties that you become humbled and more prepared for the next chapter of your life.

Another piece of advice I have is a quote by Louis Pasteur: "Chance favors the prepared mind." You will only get your greatest opportunity in life when you are both physically and mentally prepared for it. You must always trust God and know that He has ordered your steps, and through Him, you can do all things.

Who are some of your favorite writers? 

Some of my favorite writers include Nancy Farmer, Virginia Hamilton, Zora Neale Hurston, and Maya Angelou. I grew up reading fantastic pieces by each of these authors, who influenced my passion for writing a unique story that all children can enjoy. 

What's next for Chental-Song Bembry? 

As I finish out my remaining three years at Hampton University, I am currently developing The Honey Bunch Kids book series into an animated series and a global brand, which will be featured on a major television network. From the animated series will come more books, and I will continue the literacy campaign I have started.

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

I am so grateful to God for each and every opportunity He places before me. I am looking forward to expanding The Honey Bunch Kids brand into an entertainment source that children around the world will enjoy, because I believe it is so important for all children to have positive role models within their cultures.

Here are links to connect with this amazing writer, illustrator, entrepreneur, and literacy advocate, Chental-Song Bembry:

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