"Q&A with Darien Harris"
Book: The Dreams of Scottie Benjamin
Author: Darien Harris
I am a writer, educator, and entrepreneur. I recently published my first children's book, "The Dreams of Scottie Benjamin". Check out ScottieBenjamin.com for more information!
I am also an entrepreneur that provides communication services to individuals and organizations. I focus on providing event planning, marketing, community/public relations and writing services to a select group of clientele.
I facilitate on-site coordination and media management for major events and brand campaigns ( i.e. Diggin Thru The Crates Hip Hop Art Installation Series, YMCA Capital View Metropolitan Area, Big Chiefs DC, The Howard Theatre (DC), The Fillmore (Silver Spring, MD), D’usse, Monumental Sports, Mango Tree (DC), and The National Museum of African American History & Culture, etc.)
1) What was the writing process like for your book?
The Dreams of Scottie Benjamin, altogether, was a two-year process. This experience was my co-author, Matthew Talley, and I’s first-time self-publishing a book. The writing process took quite a bit of time, almost six months. Once we had the manuscript and illustrations finished, we probably created about four versions before the final version was ready. Our friends, family, and peers were big supporters, serving as copy editors for our children’s book.
2) We see your mission is to help literacy in Washington DC, where did that passion spark from?
My passion for addressing literacy issues in the D.C. area came from serving as a teacher at New Beginnings Youth Development Center. I spent two years teaching several different subjects inside the facility. During this time, I became extremely familiar with the literacy issues affecting youth in the D.C. area.
I was thankful for the opportunity to serve and get to know each one of these young men. But I was devastated by the fact that the majority of my students could not read at grade level. Some of my students could barely read at all.
3) What have you done so far in DC? Also, how can people help you?
A lot of my work in the D.C. area was initially focused on serving the youth at New Beginnings Youth Development Center. I’m currently managing DMVFollowers, the largest digital media outlet in the D.C. area. DMVFollowers is a black-owned media company focused on providing news and news coverage to underserved and underrepresented audiences.
We currently have over 345,000 local subscribers. I also am launching a campaign, hopefully in the fall, called the “8 Across 8” campaign, a social campaign focused on addressing the literacy issues impacting children in the D.C. area. The goal of the campaign is to donate 800 copies of “The Dreams of Scottie Benjamin” across all eight wards of the Washington D.C. area.
Anyone interested in helping, whether it be with funding, providing volunteer services, or even just showing support or finding more information can feel free to reach out to me via my website, email, or social media!
4) Why should people regardless of ethnicity read your book?
To be honest, my book is specifically for the African American community. As a graduate of Morehouse College, I understand the social responsibility I have to create a product for my community. I’d love for other ethnicities to read my children’s book; however, and hope any child will see Scottie Benjamin as a superhero above anything else!
5) What is the best advice you have received on happiness?
The best advice I received on happiness would have to be from my father. Several months ago, I was working a 9-5, fighting to become a full-time entrepreneur. When I came to my dad for advice, he told me that people like him and I aren’t happy unless we’re our own bosses; unless we have independence and financial freedom. I believe that’s happiness.
6) What is the best book you have read in 2017?
The best book I’ve read in 2017 was a book gifted to me by my mentor, “Letters to a Young Writer.” It helped me realize that the rules of writing are meant to be learned, then be broken!
7) Who has been a mentor in your life and what have they taught you about leadership?
I’ve had many different mentors in my life. From basketball coaches to teachers, professors, and supervisors, each of these mentors taught me that leadership comes with responsibility. One of my biggest fears is to lead the people that God has directed me to lead on a path that’s not according to his will. The supporters aren’t to blame for arriving at the wrong destination, the leader is.
"When I came to my Dad for advice, he told me that people like him and I aren’t happy unless we’re our own bosses; unless we have independence and financial freedom. I believe that’s happiness."
8) How did Scottie from your book come about and how does he relate to you?
The main character of my children’s book was a collaborative idea between my co-author and I. After deciding to create a relatable children’s book; we wanted to plan a seed of Hip-Hop into the story. So we named the main character, Scottie Benjamin, after Andre 3000 aka Andre Benjamin and Scott Mescudi aka Kid Cudi.
Scottie relates to me because it’s a story of a young person understanding the importance of using your imagination to overcome fear. I believe that fear is only false evidence appearing real and, because of this, it is directly connected to our imagination. Scottie teaches us the lesson that by using the power of our imagination, we can overcome any fear that may arise within!
9) Do you plan to write more books in the future?
I do. I plan to write about two or three more editions of Scottie Benjamin. I’m also working on a personal project entitled “Letters to My Father: A Dialogue with Dad.” I’m excited about this project because the concept is focused on a young curious black boy and his loving father. That’s all I can say for now!
10) How do you stay motivated during tough stretches?
During tough stretches, I think about my motivations. My major motivation to push through and be resilient right now is my legacy. One of my primary goals is to build an infrastructure for my family that will bridge us towards financial freedom and empowerment. Every day, whenever I get tired, or a tough stretch comes, I remind myself that my legacy and the people that come after me is all that matters.
"I believe that fear is only false evidence appearing real and, because of this, it is directly connected to our imagination. Scottie teaches us the lesson that by using the power of our imagination, we can overcome any fear that may arise within!"
Bonus: What are seven top books that have impacted your life?
That’s tough!!! The top 7 books that have impacted my life, in no specific order, would be:
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Black Fire – by Amiri Baraka
- The Autobiography of W.E.B. Dubois
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X
- SLUGG: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration
- The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir by D. Watkins
- Buck: A Memoir by M.K. Asante
Places to Find More From This Author
Facebook: Darien Harris
Linkedin: Darien Harris
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