Meet the Author: Dorothy H. Price

Image of author Dorothy H. Price and character Jalen from her book series Jalen's Big City with text: "Meet the Author: Dorothy H. Price"

Meet the Author: Dorothy H. Price

April 6, 2022

 

We Need Diverse Books Mentee Dorothy H. Price brings authentic voice and experience to her debut early chapter book series, Jalen’s Big City Life. Perfect for early reader fans of Yasmin, Katie Woo, and Pedro, the stories in Jalen’s Big City Life center on realistic adventures in a city setting and teach important lessons including kindness, responsibility, sharing, and respect. We recently sat down with Dorothy to talk more about her exciting new series!

 

Congratulations on your forthcoming debut! Tell us a little bit about Jalen’s Big City.
Jalen’s Big City Life evolved out of interest for another story I wrote, and wasn't quite the right fit. But there are many similarities between my original story and this chapter book series, mainly the setting, which takes place in a big city.

Yes, J.C.’s family recently moved from a small town to live in the big city. Did any of your own experiences influence the setting? 
Absolutely! I was born in northern New Jersey and lived very close to New York City. As a child, I’d visit my grandmother, aunts, and cousin who lived in a huge apartment building. When I was older, I lived and worked in New York City as well, so many of Jalen’s encounters stem from personal experience.

Why is it important for readers to see environments that reflect their lives?
I believe it’s very important for young readers to see settings and environments that reflect their lives, so they know their world is normal. I also believe it’s important for young readers who don’t live in the same settings or environments similar to Jalen’s, to understand the different ways people live. I believe books can expose children to life’s nuances, without physically being in those places, which is a great way to learn, understand, and appreciate our differences.

Illustrated image of an African American boy with his grandparents in their city apartment. Art from Jalen's Big City Life book series by Dorothy H. Price and illustrated by Gloria Felix.

J.C. and his grandparents live very close to each other—like in the same apartment building! Why was it important to you to include the multi-generational, extended family relationship in the stories? 
Multi-generational and extended family relationships were very much a part of my childhood, and my adulthood. Although my grandparents didn’t live with me growing up, my grandmother and great aunt lived with my aunt and cousin in their apartment. So I saw that dynamic every time I visited. As an adult, my mother lived with my family and me for many years. So my children were exposed to that multi-generational experience from a young age as well.

Jalen’s Big City Life explores themes of family, friendship, and discovery. What message would you like readers to take away from the series?
I would like readers to experience what it’s like to move someplace new. Moving can be sad when leaving friends behind. But it can also be fun meeting new friends and learning how to navigate in a new city or town. If readers have never experienced moving, this series will help them understand what it’s like to relocate to someplace new, and what it’s like living close to family and friends.

What did being selected as a We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program recipient mean to you?
Being selected for the We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program saved my writing career. Prior to winning this award, I had decided to stop submitting stories to agents and publishers. After years and years of rejections, I began questioning whether writing for children was meant to be. I am forever grateful to WNDB for giving me the “yes” I needed to keep going. Because of that “yes,” this series is a reality today.

What advice would you give to young aspiring writers?
One thing I encourage aspiring writers to do is journal. I started journaling at 11, and credit that for sparking my writing career to this day. In my first journal, I wrote songs, poems, raps—whatever came to mind. Journals have always been my way to brain-dump the creative ideas that flow through my head. Needless to say, I lost count of how many journals I’ve acquired over the years.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to share a quote that’s provided encouragement along my writing journey—and one that hung on my wall as an English teacher:

“Anything is possible, as long as you believe.”

Even when discouraged and disappointed, I always believed my writing dreams were possible, and would someday come true.

 

Collage image of book covers from Jalen's Big City series by Dorothy H. Price

 

Get a sneak peek of Jalen's Big City Life series, publishing in August 2022!