Q & A With Chandra Sparks Splond, Author of "Speak"
A lifelong fan of reading, Chandra Sparks Splond waited until adulthood before stepping out on faith to publish her first book in 2007. It was quite a debut: Her young adult novel, Spin It Like That, was chosen as a Popular Paperback for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association.
Now 13 years later, Splond is a veteran author, editor, speaker and blogger. This month, she released her 17th book,
Speak is a timely book given what is happening today. The main character is a 15-year-old boy finding his voice amidst the backdrop of a pandemic and racial unrest happening across the United States.
You can find information about Speak by clicking at this link
In a Q & A with the Birmingham Public Library PR Department, Splond talked about what inspired her to write the book and the timely message on the importance of “finding your voice” she wants readers to get after reading “Speak.”
|Chandra Sparks Splond, author of "Speak"|
BPL: What is the book about?
Splond: Fifteen-year-old Kobe Means has zero desire to follow in the footsteps of his famous father. Now, thanks to the pandemic, they’ve been stuck at home together for months, and Kobe has had enough. It seems the only way he’ll get any peace is to find a way to speak up for himself. What starts out as a simple idea to get away from his dad and show some independence turns into his life changing in ways he could never imagine. This summer, Kobe will find his voice.
BPL: How does this book compare to some of your others?
Splond: Speak is the second book I’ve written from a boy’s perspective. Like most of my young adult novels, it’s set here in Birmingham, so readers will see lots of familiar locations.
BPL: What was the inspiration behind Speak?
Splond: Speak was inspired last summer when I had to go to my daughter’s school to get some paperwork filled out. It was early, and classes hadn’t started yet. I was watching the kids be kids when a girl pulled up in a red car. I started wondering what her story was. When I started writing the book, instead of it being the girl’s story, I realized the book was really about one of her classmates.
I thought it was going to be about his experiences in summer school. Instead it was about his relationship with his father. I wrote the first draft, figuring I would release it Summer 2020. I put the story aside for a few months. When I came back to it earlier this year, so much had changed (Kobe Bryant’s death, the pandemic, racial unrest, and schools were closed) that I had to do major rewrites. Prayerfully, it has all come together in a way that’s real and relevant to readers.
BPL: What message do you hope readers get out of this book?
Splond: More than anything, I want readers to find their voice and know it’s okay to speak up for yourself and others, even when butterflies are doing backflips in your belly.
BPL: I love your new blog,
Splond: I came up with the idea for
I am an unapologetic lover of Black books—not only do I write them, but I’ve edited them for almost 25 years—and I wanted to celebrate those books and the authors who create them. I am a huge supporter of Black indie authors, so you’ll see a lot of books the mainstream media probably isn’t covering on my blog and on my Black Fiction Addiction social media pages
BPL: Are you still doing your Book of Splond blog? (https://chandrasparkssplond.com/blog)
Splond: This year marks the fifth anniversary of my award-winning blog, I’ve gotten to know a lot of amazing women as a result of my monthly Momma of the Month feature, and the blog has allowed me to share my faith and step outside my comfort zone in terms of being transparent about things like depression and divorce. My hope and prayer is that both my blogs have been a blessing to readers.
BPL: Anything else to add?
Splond: I want to thank you and the Birmingham Public Library for the opportunity, Roy. I’m blessed that my childhood dream of writing books continues to come true. I just want to encourage people to never stop dreaming. No matter how old or young you are, I’m living proof your dreams can come true.
About the author:
Chandra Sparks Splond is an editor, speaker and award-winning author and blogger. She is a 2019 recipient of the Learning for Life award presented by the Orlean Beeson School of Education at Samford University. In addition to having published several No. 1 Amazon bestselling books, Splond’s young adult novel Make It Work was named Alabama's Great Read 2017. In addition to winning recognition from Young Adults by the
Splond graduated from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa with a degree in journalism and has a master’s degree in instructional design and technology from Samford University. A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Splond resides in Birmingham, Alabama, with her family. Visit her website at www.chandrasparkssplond.com.