Stella Keeps the Sun Up
As a mother of 9 and almost 7 year old daughters, I still relish whimsical children’s books that feature the joys of childhood. As a working mom who writes as a side hustle,I also deeply admire Clothilde Ewing’s
choice to augment her past/present day jobs at the Oprah Winfrey Show,
on President Obama’s campaign team, with the City of Chicago, and most recently for The Chicago Community Trust, to write a new children’s book, Stella Keeps the Sun Up–Out this week
Four years ago, Clothilde read this op-ed
in the New York Times
written by Denene Millner, a book editor and a mom who was having trouble finding whimsical children’s books featuring a Black character. Clothilde had similar experiences finding adventurous stories with a Black character for her two children. She pinned the article to her vision board and started writing; two years later, Clothilde landed a contract with Simon & Schuster with the very same editor who had inspired this journey. Stella Keeps the Sun Up
is the first of the Stella series, a character named after her 7-year-old daughter.
Read on for an exclusive Q&A with Clothilde for #hacksthenewsletter.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I encourage you to support Clothilde and buy Stella Keeps the Sun Up
AJR: How does Stella in your book and your daughter Stella differ? How are they similar?
CE: This series is inspired by both of my children, who are now 5 and 7-years-old. They are both wildly imaginative and can have the time of their lives with a few sticks and mud puddles. The things they say, the questions they ask and their way of seeing the world are hilarious and often refreshing. I started keeping a journal of some of their greatest hits and it brings a smile to my face every time and provides great fodder for stories that will be featured in the Stella series.
AJR: Who are the women who inspire you most and why?
CE: My mother and grandmother have had a great impact on my life and continue to inspire me. My grandmother passed away at 98-years-old two years ago and she was a lifelong learner and entrepreneur who was style personified. She managed to go to college at a time when women, and women of color in particular, were not welcomed with open arms and went on to earn a nursing degree. She was also an entrepreneur who had a successful side hustle as a Mary Kay representative. Her daughter is my mother and I hit the jackpot. Also, a nurse, she is the glue that bonds our family. She is the kindest person who wants the best for people around her — not because she expects anything in return, but because that is how she is wired. The two of them make me want to be a better person and push me to make the most of my opportunities.
AJR: If there were one thing about publishing your first children’s book that you wish you had known before you wrote it, what would it be?
CE: This is going to sound crazy, but I don’t think I fully appreciated that I would be promoting myself in any way. When I went to college, I majored in broadcast journalism and political science, with the expectation that I would be a television news reporter. When I found out I could be a producer, I was sold. I have since spent two decades in communications and have always been behind the scenes. Having my name out front is a new space for me. I didn’t fully appreciate how vulnerable I would feel in this process. Thankfully, I see my work and the motivation for me to write as something that is bigger than me and so I am able to get over myself (most of the time).
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