May 2, 2023
Author and Beachwood Middle School teacher Breshea Anglen has released her second young adult novel, Noni & The God Tree: A Shattered Truth. A Shattered Truth continues the story of Noni Grace, a human with inexplicable power who must band together with allies old and new to battle evil and save her realm.
As an author and English-Language Arts teacher, Ms. Anglen is passionate about making sure students from diverse backgrounds can see themselves represented in popular young adult fiction. In this Q & A, Ms. Anglen shares her journey to becoming an author and how her passion for writing inspires her teaching.
Can you describe your journey to becoming a published author?
I have always been a self-published author. Breaking into the world of traditional publishing is very difficult, and many authors lose their autonomy when it comes to publishing traditionally. Furthermore, the rejection rate from traditional publishers for manuscripts written by authors of color is unbelievably high. I wanted to retain as much autonomy as I could in the pursuit of my dream, so I chose the self-publishing route.
Initially, I self-published through Archway Publishing, a self-publishing partner of Simon & Schuster, but I was again struck with the feeling of lost autonomy, specifically pertaining to the first cover for A Shrouded Spark, my first novel.
I took matters into my own hands and self-published independently. This was a far less expensive process, and I was able to have full control over my book cover, which brought in far more readers and truly represented the heart of the book. I successfully self-published my second novel, Noni & The God Tree: A Shattered Truth on March 25, 2023.
What do you love most about writing YA fiction?
What I love most about writing YA fiction is the fact that I get to provide an experience for children and young adults that I didn't have as a child. I am an avid reader and lover of fantasy books and always have been. Unfortunately, the fantasy genre is sorely lacking in diverse representation. There were no fantasy books with characters who looked like me, and this dampened my experience as a reader. Now, I'm able to create worlds, experiences, and stories centering characters from diverse backgrounds, filling the gap that existed when I was a child, and creating new experiences for today's young adults.
How does your passion for writing inspire your teaching?
I believe that writers are born from both nature and nurture. With enough love, time, and cultivation, kids can use writing as a tool to express themselves. My passion for writing inspires me to cultivate new writers, to provide them with the tools and encouragement they need to believe and know that their stories are valuable and worthy of being heard.
How do you balance teaching and writing?
As a teacher (and a mom), I have had to strategically plan my writing time. I usually write for about an hour after my daughter has gone to bed. I do this every day, no matter how tired I am! Even if what I wrote turns out to be not-so-awesome, it's still better than nothing. On weekends, I have freer reign and can use my free time to plan, plot, and write.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are: Stephen King (The Shining, Misery), Nnedi Okorafor (Akata Woman, BINTI trilogy), and Tracey Deonn (Legendborn, Bloodmarked).
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write the stories that scare you. Write the stories that hurt. There is someone, somewhere, who needs to hear what you have to say.
What else would you like the Beachwood school community to know?
I would just like everyone to know that I am super grateful to work for such a beautiful and supportive community. I wouldn't want to be a teacher anywhere else!