Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Chatting with Donna Beasley, children's book author

I'm delighted to welcome fellow SCBWI author Donna Beasley to my blog. Her latest book My Mama is Flying that Plane is now available, but before we learn more about this delightful book, let's meet Donna. 

What inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired by an article I read about the contributions of African Americans in the early days of aviation as pilots, parachutist, and an airplane manufacturer. In my book, I tell the fictional story of a Black woman who wants to be a pilot in the early days of aviation. She goes for it when she gets the chance with the support of her two daughters. It takes grit, sacrifice, and courage to reach her dream. You’ll also meet some of the aviators that barnstormed in airshows and inspired my story. The beautiful illustrations by Edwin Harris Jr, really bring the story to life.

What are you working on now?

I am currently revising my middle-grade adventure novel. To prove his worth through his family’s rite of passage challenge, a twelve-year-old Chicago boy races to find the legendary treasure of his ancestor in Timbuktu, while being pursued by both mercenary soldiers and Tuareg rebels for the treasure. I enjoyed writing the story and putting my young hero in plenty of danger, excitement, and challenges he had to overcome. Now however, I find the revising to be tougher because you have to break it down and look at every element, (character, plot, theme, dialog, world-building, pacing) to see what’s working, what’s not and figure out how to fix it. It will truly make for a better book, but I’m not having as much fun as I did when writing it.

What are you reading?

I am big fan of adventure novels. I usually read adult books, but this fall I am reading a lot of middle-grade adventure novels seeing how the pros handle it. It keeps me encouraged while I work through the revision phase of my story.

I have read some really good ones. If you have children ages 8 to 12, I highly recommend, Explorer Academy by Trudi Trueit. It is published by National Geographic so you know you’ll learn about science and the planet in these adventure stories. Another great middle-grade series is Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler. They are both Emmy award-winning screenwriters so you know they can tell a great story.

The book that inspired me the most this year was Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. It really changed my perspective on sending my creative work out into the world from trepidation to joy.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about creating greater diversity in children’s books. I believe every child should people like themselves, their family, and their community in the pages of a book. When I started KaZoom Kids Books four years ago only 5% of children’s books featured a child of color. You could barely find a multicultural book on the shelves of bookstores. I decided to do something about it. I love being a publisher as much as I enjoy being a storyteller. Helping first-time authors and illustrators break into the field gives me a lot of joy.

We need more diverse writers to tell these stories. That’s why I encourage mothers and grandmothers to write children’s stories about their culture. To get them started I teach a course showing them how to write a multicultural children’s story they’ll love in 40 Days. And if they’re interested, I coach them to self-publish their work.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I play games like Words With Friends, Word Chums and way too much Candy Crush. Don’t judge me.

What is your favorite comfort food?

A hot cup of ginger peach tea and a slightly heated Madeleine petite cake is an ideal combo when I need to lift my spirit.

Donna's favorite quote:

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
― Toni Morrison

About the book

My Mama is Flying that Plane
Author: Donna Beasley
Genre: Children’s Book (ages 5 to 8)

Celebrating the little-known history of African-American aviation pioneers, this inspirational book, set in the early 1930s, shares the story of Janet and her older sister Bess.

The girls learn the meaning of courage and determination when their Mama loses her job but seizes the opportunity to chase her dreams of becoming a pilot.

Mama and the girls go through some tough times trying to make ends meet in their new home. But all their sacrifice is worth it when Mama finally gets to fly a plane in a first-of-its-kind Air Circus, giving Janet a huge surprise that makes her 9th birthday simply unforgettable.

About the author:

Donna Renee Beasley is the author of the children’s books Kason’s Kite, Blaze Barton’s First Cattle Drive, Mystery at Zig Zag Zoo and My Mama is Flying That Plane. Sparked by the monthly Dr. Seuss subscription that her mother used to teach her how to read at age 4, Donna has had a life-long love affair with books. Donna is passionate about creating diversity in children’s literature. She hopes her stories inspire a love of reading in children. Donna is also a writing coach encouraging mothers to write their first children’s book.

When she’s not working on her upcoming children’s adventure novel, you can find Donna hitting the ski slopes in winter, indulging her passion for photography or playing “way too much” Candy Crush on her phone. www.donnabeasleyauthor.com

Connect with Donna


  1. You're giving other authors a chance and that's great!

  2. Alex, I couldn't agree more!

    Donna, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog.