We had the good fortune of connecting with CJ Charles and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi CJ, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have always been an entrepreneur. Since elementary school, I would find ways to earn money with little businesses. I decided to start writing because I did not see children’s books about families of color; that celebrated motherhood. I did not find many children’s books that demonstrated how much children (of color) adore their parents or care takers.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am the author of My Mother is a Superhero. This book is an open love letter to my mother, Alice, and mothers everywhere. I want the world to know that I love being a daughter to a superhero. This book series celebrates the everyday superheroes in a little girl’s life. This series will consist of four books, with the second one to be released later this year.
While writing, I have also worked as a Spanish teacher in southern California for 17 years. I have spent the majority of my professional career in the high school setting. Being an African American, high school, Spanish teacher is not easy. The biggest challenges with teaching, are competing with technology and balancing my personal goals. It is funny though; everyone is always shocked that I am the real Spanish teacher. I’ve learned so many lessons over the years. My biggest lesson so far is that is okay to have more than one passion in life.
I have always been an author. I can remember writing as early as the first grade. During the 80’s, I enjoyed rewriting biblical stories and of course stories which included my weekly vocabulary words. I would always write short stories and songs. I was a journalist for the school paper, in junior high school and by 11th grade, I wrote photo captions in the yearbook. Words have always been a theme in my life.
From my experiences in the classroom, I have learned not to make assumptions about other people. My students have taught me that you meet people where they are in life and go from there.
I have worked tremendously hard to be where I am today. I have not been given a blueprint. I hope that I am creating a blueprint for a young woman with similar aspirations. Becoming a published author while maintaining a full-time job has not been easy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A week in Los Angeles:
My favorite time of year in Los Angeles is the summertime. I love outdoor events in LA! In no particular order, we are going to explore and enjoy the city!
Day1: Westside! I would definitely stop by the Farmers Market in Mar Vista- grab some fresh fruit and something light to eat. From Mar Vista, I would stop by the Third Street Promenade and maybe the Santa Monica Pier.
Day 2: Time to hike! I would make a day of exploring San Pedro and Palos Verdes. A morning hike in the nature preserve in Palos Verdes or adjacent trails would be nice. Next, we could check out Sunken City in San Pedro. While in Pedro, we have to order a short stack of blueberry pancakes at the Omelet and Waffle House on Gaffey.
Day 3: Music time! I would go to Terranea Resort and listen to some jazz in the evening after dinner. Depending on the weather you will probably be able to watch the dolphins in the ocean as the sun sets.
Day 4: DTLA! Downtown LA is cool. I would take them on a food tour and learn about the history of the city. Maybe we could check out the Grammy museum at the Staples Center. We could also stop by CAAM in the way home.
Day 5: Hollywood Bowl. If its summer, then you will most certainly find me at the Hollywood Bowl! Doesn’t matter who is performing- I am there!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am grateful to my family. My story would not be as wonderful as it is without the (physical) sacrifices and hard work of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents. I literally stand on their backs. All of their sacrifices and unspoken dreams move me forward. I am very grateful!
Other: Purchase link for My Mother is a Superhero square.link/u/2B0GBAlt