We’re thrilled to welcome K.N. Chimbiri as our guest blogger for Black History Month. In this blog Kandace talks about her writing life and where the idea came from for her newly released book, The Story of Britain’s Black Airmen.
Hi! I’m Kandace and I’m a Black history children’s author.
I started writing more than 13 years ago as I wanted to see more diversity in children’s books especially history books. There weren’t many Black history books for children at the time and I certainly didn’t see many books about Black British history.
I didn’t think any publishers would be interested in the books I wanted to write so I decided to self-publish and sell them myself. It was really hard work. Since 2020 my books have been published by Scholastic UK. It’s nice to be able to concentrate on writing and have others take care of nearly everything else!
I have so many ideas for new books. Sometimes ideas just pop into my mind when I’m shopping, relaxing or while I’m working on another project. The idea for The Story of Britain’s Black Airmen came from a photo in one of my other books, The Story of the Windrush. There’s a photo in The Story of the Windrush with a group of men on board the Empire Windrush in June 1948. Some of the men in the photo were ex-RAF servicemen from the Caribbean. The photo also shows Johnny Smythe from Sierra Leone who was an officer who served as a navigator during the Second World War.
I felt really inspired by the photo and I decided to use it as a starting point to tell a little-known story. At first, I wanted to tell the story of some of the Black men from the Caribbean and Africa who served in the RAF during the Second World War. Once I began my research though I realised that I needed to write a bigger story. One of the important things to highlight was some of the achievements of the airmen after the Second World War ended. Many of them became involved in politics or civil rights as they still wanted to make the world a better place.
Although it’s hard work doing research and writing books about these lesser-known parts of history, it’s also very rewarding. It’s such a good feeling when someone says that they learnt something new from reading one of my books. I hope that readers will enjoy The Story of Britain’s Black Airmen and find something interesting to share with family and friends no matter where they are. And who knows, maybe some readers will even get inspired to write a book of their own!
K.N. Chimbiri is the author of The Story of Britain’s Black Airmen, published by Scholastic, out now.