Tell us about yourself!
I’m a wife, a mom of two, a lawyer, a nurse, and a middle-grade author. I was born in the United Kingdom to Jamaican parents. When I was five, my parents moved us back to the island where we lived until I was almost seventeen. My father died when I was eleven, and my mom moved us to the U.S. a few years later. Currently, I live in Florida, but I have also lived in California and Massachusetts.
I’ve been known to cry at commercials, and I bawled when I watched the movie, Barbie, Island Princess. The scene where Barbie found her mother was just too touching!
Tell us about your chapter books.
A Kids’ Court Whodunit is a series about a group of children who start a neighborhood court and dispense justice among their friends. The main character, Luana Porcello, the daughter of two lawyers, aspires to follow in her parents’ footsteps and become a lawyer when she grows up.
In the first book, The Doll Dilemma, Luana gets the idea to start the Kids’ Court when she overhears siblings fighting over the destruction of a beloved doll. The sister accuses her brother of destroying the toy, but the boy insists he’s innocent. Luana suggests they take their case to court to uncover the truth.
The children model their court after real ones; they have a judge, lawyers for each side, a court reporter, a bailiff, and even private investigators. In each case, Luana represents the defendant, and the court attempts to solve the mystery through the testimony of witnesses and other evidence.
The books explain the role of each court staff member, the difference between criminal and civil courts, the burden of proof, the amount of evidence required to prove one’s case, and much, much more. I use real legal terms and rules in the stories, but the characters explain everything as they learn along with the reader. There is also a glossary at the end of each book, defining all the legal words used. My son’s social studies teacher told me the books cover all the topics she includes in her civics lessons.
The books also teach children a healthy way to resolve conflict and settle arguments, and about the importance of having proof before leveling accusations against others.
The books target readers 8 to 12.
What kind of child are you trying to reach with your books?
My son told me my books are for children who love to learn, and he’s said he’s not in that group. Haha! He is a straight-A student but prefers to spend his time playing video games. Despite that, he has read and enjoyed all my books. He and his sister have been my beta readers and first-line editors for the entire series.
He is right about my books being for children who enjoy learning. But they are also perfect for children who like mysteries, puzzling things out, or who have an interest in law.
Give us a little flavor of some great characters or the setting.
My main character, Luana Porcello, is bi-racial. Her mom is from Jamaica, and her father is Italian American. The character is based on my daughter, and her name is derived from a combination of my daughter’s and son’s names—Lucian and Hannah.
Eleven-year-old Luana is very smart and is the self-appointed peacemaker of her group of friends. She genuinely hates whenever anyone is unhappy, especially her friends. Luana is passionate about the law and believes wholeheartedly in the concept of justice and fairness for all.
Phoebe Chen is Luana’s best friend. Phoebe’s role in the court is a private investigator for the defense. Phoebe is my favorite character. On the outside, she’s outspoken with a low tolerance for foolishness, impatience, and sarcasm. But on the inside, she’s a total cream puff—a side she keeps well hidden from most people.
Thirteen-year-old Heather is the eldest member of the Kids’ Court. Heather is the judge and runs a tight ship. Although she finds it tedious dealing with the “children,” as she often refers to the younger kids, secretly she’s delighted to be involved with the court and loves the power that comes with her position.
What inspired you to write this series?
My inspiration to write comes from God. I stayed at home when my children were younger, and for years I worried about what I’d do when it was time to go back to work. Would I go back to practicing law, or would I go back to being a nurse? I wasn’t enamored with either profession. Finally, I told myself that when the time came, God would tell me what to do, and I stopped worrying.
Then, in the months before my son entered kindergarten, people started suggesting I write a book—so many people, including my husband, friends in my everyday life, and others. Family members I hadn’t seen for years reminded me how much I used to entertain them with made-up stories as a child, and people I’d just met suggested I write a book. It was striking and strange.
The last straw was when I emailed a lady in my Goodreads reading group, asking her for the title of a book she’d previously recommended. When she replied to my email, she asked if I’d ever thought of writing a book. She said she thought I’d be good at it. When I asked her why she’d written that, she said something told her to type it when replying to my email. I’m telling you, the hairs rose on the back of my neck.
By then, I’d already conceived the idea for The Doll Dilemma after a casual comment by my husband. He said, “You’re a lawyer. You should write a book about a kid lawyer.” Two days later, I had the entire outline for The Doll Dilemma.
It was as if God was saying to me, “What are you waiting for? Go write the book!” I thought it would be one book, but before I’d finished book one, I had the idea for book two. The ending of The Doll Dilemma sets up the story in The Go-KartAstrophe.
How did you know you wanted to be an author?
I loved reading, writing, and making up stories as a child and always thought I’d write a book. They say everyone has a book in them, so I figured one day I’d write mine.
But it wasn’t until I had my son that I decided to actually try my hand at writing. By then I’d rediscovered a love of children’s stories, and so I wrote a few short stories to share with my kids. Then later, I wrote The Doll Dilemma and haven’t looked back since.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Just do it! There will always be an excuse not to write, but if you want to write, then do it. Don’t worry about what you’re going to say or how it will sound. If you have an idea in your head, put your fingers on the keyboard and pound out the words. You can edit what you’ve written later, and the story will eventually take shape.
My other piece of advice is to write YOUR story. Every writer has their critics. You’ll never be able to please everyone, so be sure to please yourself.
What formats are your books available in?
Find them all here.
What’s next for A Kids’ Court Whodunit?
I have a fourth book coming out this month. I plan to release book five sometime in November, and the sixth in early 2023. My hope is to release a book every three months.
How can parents find you?
All my books are available on Amazon in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats.
You can also purchase them at Barnes & Noble and many other online bookstores in paperback format.
If you’re in the market for chapter books, I’d love to share my series with you! Collar Cases is a Christian mystery series for readers 7-12.
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