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Piles of Books

Athena W. Hernandez

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A Bit About Me

I’ve always been passionate about storytelling and impressed by the influence it has on people and culture. I love engaging with my projects by letting my characters live fully in my imagination, building worlds that are full of the life and nuance of my characters, diving headfirst into the research, letting the meaning and symbolism reveal itself without force, tapping into the emotions I felt when reading books by authors that spoke to our shared humanity, and by paying attention to the children I write for to give them stories that reflect their lives, their wholeness, and their potential.

When I chose to explore creative writing, writing for children chose me. On the white sand beaches of Aruba, a character fully formed in my imagination and demanded to have her story told. When I exhausted my efforts at self-guided learning, I applied to the Vermont College of Fine Arts and found my voice and my tribe. I was inspired by the creative energy of my peers, but also by the late great Walter Dean Myers, a prolific author who in a New York Times editorial said of reading his first James Baldwin story in search of representation in books, "The story gave me a permission that I didn’t know I needed, the permission to write about my own landscape, my own map." My love of books and storytelling followed a very similar path to Walter's, and without knowing it, he gave writers like me that same permission and a blueprint to make magic for children of color.

I am a curious and proactive author who writes unapologetically for children of color so that they can find themselves in all types of stories and embrace all possibilities. And I choose universal themes that will serve as windows, mirrors, and doors, resonating with all children.

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Work in Progress

I’ve been working on this latest story for quite some time now, and can’t wait to introduce it to the world. This book first started out as a workshop piece for my MFA program, but soon turned into a compelling and revealing undertaking that I couldn’t stop thinking about or writing. I'm still writing Aiyana's story, and her world continues to unfold. Stick around and be among the first to read her story.

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"Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?"

Walter Dean Myers

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Washington, DC

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