Crystal Allen and Mya Tibbs
Crystal Allen gives life to a nine-year-old character named Mya. She is bold, fun, and free-spirited. Mya wears cowgirl boots, uses her braids to help her remember the date, and loves her friends. This nine-year-old girl’s personality was inspired by Ramona Quimby. The idea came from Crystal’s team, and they asked her “to write a story about Mya because they could not find another author to bring her to life.” Crystal took the charge and wrote “Spirit Week Showdown” in 2016. This is the first book in this series where Mya must overcome difficulties in order to get her best friend back. In 2017 she published her second story in this series, “The Wall of Fame Game.”
“In book one, SPIRIT WEEK SHOWDOWN, Mya is boot-scootin’ excited for the best five days of the whole school year – Spirit Week! She and her best friend, Naomi, even make a pinkie promise to be partners and win the big prize, VIP tickets to the Fall Festival! But when the partner picking goes wrong, Mya gets paired with Mean Connie Tate—the biggest bully in school. And she can’t get out of it. Now Naomi is mad, and Mya has to figure out not only how to win the VIP tickets, but also how to win back her friend—and of course she learns that maybe, just maybe, the rumors about Connie are wrong.”
All of Crystal’s characters originated from her own creative mind. She said that the biggest challenge in creating was that Mya was not thought about on her own, “I did not see her. This character came from someone else’s head and she had to bring her to life.” Despite the challenge, Crystal loves Ramona Quimby. “An African American Ramona could be a lot of fun to create.”
The way that Crystal builds her characters is that they come to her mind at random times. For Crystal, her character’s actions, and personalities filter through her thoughts before she is able to write about them. “One of my characters was walking in my brain and I knew that it was him because his laughs and phrases just came to my mind. For other stories, my characters show up and come to me and give me time to figure that out. With Mya, I did not have that relationship and I did not see her because she had not come to me in the normal way.”
How did Crystal become a writer? Crystal’s is an author because she comes from a family line of storytellers. When she was growing up she was surrounded by stories. For example, she remembers when her mother told her stories about her own childhood. “Mom was an amazing storyteller such as drinking coffee from her grandfather’s cup. She could mesmerize a group of people about when she was sitting on her grandfather’s lap and waiting for it to spill on the floor. That was my creative gene. Everybody in my family has sat around and talked about stories.” She also draws from the stories of her brothers or her sons to create her characters. Where their jokes and pranks influenced the young men in her first book. You will also find stories from her childhood of when she grew up in Indiana.
So how did Crystal end up creating Mya into the spunky character that she is?
She thought of her relationship that she had with Fern from Charlotte’s Webb. That was one of her favorite stories because “it almost mimicked my life.” When she thought about her own reader-relationship experience then she was able to create Mya.
“Mya Tibbs and Connie Tate are reflections of my life in elementary school. Mya’s strong, funny, personality reminds me of my ‘know everything’ self. But, I was also the new kid and the only student in my class who lived on a farm. Because of that, I was teased by my classmates. When I fought back, I was labeled a bully. I needed a friend. Our librarian gave me a copy of Charlotte’s Web, and I found exactly what I needed. Fern was just like me. She lived on a farm, didn’t have many friends, and I was so proud of her for saving Wilbur. I would have done that, too! Fern and I have been friends forever.”
Crystal knew that Mya was a special and unique character.
“I wanted to create someone special for today’s young girl – that’s when Mya Tibbs showed up in my mind, fully dressed in western wear, walking and talking like a cowgirl, and ready for work. Halfway through finishing my first draft, I realized Mya was becoming a modern day Fern!”
Just like Crystal built her relationship with Fern, she hopes that her readers will develop the same relationship for cute Mya. Every child needs a friend.
Visit http://www.crystalallenbooks.com/ to learn more about Crystal Allen