ORLANDO, Fla. — For first time author, Marissa Jay “MJ” White-Quarles, producing her first children’s book “I Love Your Skin” was another dream accomplished. White-Quarles is already living her dream as an entertainer, but also always wanted to write a book.
Her first book explores the relationship of two sister who are very different from one another and how they rise above negativity and create a dialogue about loving the skin they’re in.
White-Quarles’ self-published children’s book “I Love Your Skin” was written in 2019 and was released in July 2020. The new author said she wrote the book in one day, but it took over a year to finish the publishing process and have it released to the public.
“This is obviously something I wrote for other kids, but was also for my inner-child,” White-Quarles said, who grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee, a city that reminds her of Sidney, where her mother Mironda White graduated high school. “This is the book I wish I had read as a child.”
The book, White-Quarles explained, is about the issue of colorism that she said exists in a multitude of communities.
“This is for non-POCs (people of color). This is for them. That is the concept behind it, but to dig deeper for me, obviously, for one, is it a great teaching lesson for those from the outside of, ‘OK, let’s teach our kids acceptance, etc.,’” White-Quarles said. “But then I never use the words black and white (in the book), because the book is about colorism which is something that we experience in a multitude of communities. It’s not just Blacks. It’s not just Hispanics; you know, it’s Black people, it’s Hispanics, it’s Asian communities that experience colorism. A lot of people haven’t heard that word. It is a form of racism.”
White-Quarles said she hopes the book will initiate conversations on race and colorism. She also hopes it will help people accept each others differences. She speaks from experiences she dealt with her entire life due to her dark skin, from growing up in East Tennessee to going on auditions and casting calls in Orlando.
“I can’t shield anyone from dealing with racism or colorism; that is just the way of the world. But what we can do, is teach and educate kids, as well as whomever is reading the stories to them, to just be a little more kind and accepting to who we are as human beings,” White-Quarles said. “We can’t teach people not to see color. We have to teach people to see each other for our differences and accept it. That is the way that we move forward. Not by erasing it, not by acting like it’s not here, not by acting like it doesn’t exist — because my color and culture is who I am. But if you can look at it and accept it and not look past it, that’s how we move forward.”
Choosing to fund and publish the book herself, was an experience in and of itself, White-Quarles said, as she stumbled along watching YouTube videos and Googling how to publish a children’s book.
Being in the entertainment industry and having a somewhat larger platform, “I Love Your Skin” has primarily been promoted through social media and by word of mouth, White-Quarles said. The feedback has been great so far, she noted.
Although White-Quarles has always been a writer, “I Love Your Skin” is the first time her work has been published. At the end of the process, she admitted to learning a lot and recognized several changes she will make for her second children’s book, dealing with grief, that is currently in the works. During the research process, White-Quarles found illustrator Demar Douglas, whom she also plans to work with again on the second book.
White-Quarles emphasized the importance of believing in yourself and going after your dreams.
“It was definitely worth it. And I’m so thankful for all of those who believed in me,” she said. “There are no limits. There are literally no limits. So far, most things I’ve said I wanted to do has been able to happen. I always wanted to publish a book, but I just didn’t know when. I always wanted to be a cheerleader, and I was one in college. I said I wanted to be in entertainment and I didn’t know how or where. I said I wanted to be an actor, and I thought I would be on TV, but instead it ended up being in a theme park. It might not be in a way that you thought it would be, but it can happen.”
White-Quarles’ journey can be followed on her Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/booksbymj/
“I Love Your Skin” can be purchased through her website at https://marissajaywhite.com/ which is dedicated to her children’s book and its promotional events. It can also be purchased on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or through many other online retailers.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.