Rachel: Tell me about yourself, personally and professionally.
Blake: I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and work full time at a food manufacturing facility. When I'm not at work, I'm typically with family and friends or taking a long walk around my neighborhood. I have a big family with lots of siblings (including a twin sister) and hope to one day have a big family of my own. Right now it's just me and my turtle, Phillip, but give me a few years and I'm sure my family will grow! We adopted my little brother when he was four, and I plan on adopting two children myself.
Rachel: What inspired you to write Hooray for Helium?
Blake: My niece and nephew were my inspiration. They are also the two main characters in the book. My nephew in particular inspired me as he said that he wants to write and publish a children's book of his own. He is 9 years old and I couldn't be more proud!
Rachel: Your book features characters of different races. Was this intentional? Why?
Blake: Absolutely. I am mixed myself, black and hispanic, and I wanted an educational book targeting all races. Every child should see a character that looks like them either on the cover or in the book. We are a nation of so many colors and it is important to me that we uplift them all.
Rachel: Many books for young kids are about superheroes, princesses, pirates, and villains. Why create a book that focuses on science?
Blake: I volunteer as a tutor and noticed the students typically had a knowledge gap in math and science. I try to make learning fun and thought that a fun rhyme scheme paired with hands-on experiments could help close this gap. My goal was to encourage children to ask questions and explore the world around them.
Rachel: What are you working on now? Can we expect more books about science in the future?
Blake: I am currently focusing on setting up book signings and classroom presentations for Hooray for Helium, but I am also working on the second book in the series! I have a few more pages to write before I complete the first draft. This book introduces children to a different element of the Periodic Table.