Trinidad and Tobago-born Sacramento-based author Crystel Patterson is on a quest to inspire African Americans to explore their cultures, experiences, and dreams positively.
The 35-year-old published her first children's book, One Flip, Two Flip, Three Flip, Four, in January as part of her Inspired to Be series.
Four months later, she published her second book, I am Different.
The series is a collection of stories inspired by real-life people and events to expose children to new ideas that exemplify kindness, confidence, commitment and courage.
Patterson, the mother of two, is a technology consultant developed a passion for writing. She spoke to Newsday via a video call.
Last year’s killing of George Floyd, which sparked massive protests against police brutality and racism in the US, prompted her to do something good out of a bad situation.
The idea to start a writing career came one day when her eight-year-old son asked her an innocent but thought-provoking question about Floyd's killing.
"He asked, why does the police keep killing black people? He did not ask why ‘they’ killed ‘that’ man. He noticed this was only happening to black people," Patterson said.
"My book does not answer his question about police brutality. I want children to see the other side, the positives."
Owing to the question, she realised she had an opportunity to do something positive and uplifting about black people, giving birth to the series.
"I want to inspire the children to dream big. I want them to know stories about black people with a great outcome. A real person inspires every book. Readers can connect to someone real," Patterson said.
"I never liked writing growing up. But because of the reason I am doing it now, I love it. I am passionate about it."
She previously considered herself a "science person" and has a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering and operations research.
Patterson is originally from Penal Rock Road in Moruga and is a former student of Rock River RC. At 12, while a form one student of Moruga Composite (now Moruga Secondary), she migrated to the US.
One Flip, Two Flip, Three Flip, Four and I am Different are available on Amazon. She said the second book was inspired by US fashion designer Kheris Rogers who was teased at school because of her dark complexion,and launched her clothing line and an anti-bullying movement.
Patterson has a third book, Superheroes Here and There will soon be published. This book was inspired by the late Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman. She became intrigued by his "admirable stories" and what he stood for in life.
In Patterson’s next book, she hopes to focus on her Caribbean roots and do her part to make soca a global musical force.
She also hopes to work with soca king Machel Montano, as she is also an actor, record producer and songwriter.
"I want to work with Machel, and not just write about him. I want to spread black inspiration. Children – not only in TT – could learn about soca and the work he has been doing."
For more information visit www.crystelpatterson.com