Ty Allan Jackson is an award-winning children’s author of multiple books, including my favorites Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire: The Lemonade Escapade and The Supadupa Kid.
He is a strong advocate for literacy, founding the literary organization Big Head Books, LLC that aims to introduce children to the joys of reading. Ty is also a co-founder of the Read or Else movement.
His books have been featured on The Steve Harvey Show, PBS, NBC Nightly News, CNN and countless other media outlets.
Interview with Ty Allan Jackson
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the most culturally awesome place in the world. The home of hip-hop music and the greatest sports team ever, The New York Yankees. The Bronx, NY.
What kind of books did you read as a kid?
My first love was comic books. Batman, Spider-Man, Ironman and Captain America were my favorites. Then about the age of 10 I gravitated towards classics like Moby Dick, Of Mice and Men and Native Son.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve only been writing for about 12 years. I started when I was forty. Forty is not a common age to reinvent yourself but it was perfect for me.
What inspires your writing?
I’m inspired by everyday life. Everyone’s simple day-to-day life is pretty darn interesting. LOL. Then to add extraordinary characters like Danny Dollar or Javon “The Supadupa Kid” Williams makes it even more interesting.
What is your favorite part of writing?
I write like I’m walking in the dark. I have no idea where the story is going until I get there. But when I get there it’s blissful. It makes me so happy as the story is developing in my mind it’s immediately being put on paper. Or in my case, computer.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies but each of my chapter books have taken me from 6 months to a year to finish.
Where did the idea for Danny Dollar Millionaire come from?
It came from a question from my son when he was 8-years-old. He asked if he could open a lemonade stand. He made $50 in three hours and then asked what to do with all that money. I didn’t have a great answer so I went to the bookstore to find a book to answer my son questions. I couldn’t find a book so I created one. That book is Danny Dollar.
Did you have many lemonade stands as a kid?
Zero! You don’t open lemonade stands in the Bronx. LOL!
What inspired you to add all of the wonderful educational bits to Danny Dollar?
I thought it was a great opportunity to not just entertain kids but to educate them as well. Kind of like hiding vegetables in the mashed potatoes.
Do you have any plans to write a second Danny Dollar book?
I am days away from finishing a spin-off of Danny Dollar. It’s more of a how-to-guide or manual about financial literacy. It’s going to be awesome. I will immediately start writing the actual sequel to Danny Dollar after I’m done called Two Dollar Bill.
What was your favorite part about writing the fantastic superhero book The Supadupa Kid?
It was so much fun developing the type of story I read as a kid. Superheroes and superhero lore was everything to me as a kid. And now to create my own heroes with their own origin story is surreal. I have to say that my favorite part is the developing the story-line of main character as he’s discovering his powers for the first time. I tried to create what it would really be like for a kid to one day wake up with incredible super powers. While it may seem awesome, it’s also pretty scary. Showing that within Javon, the main character was a blast.
Were the characters Javon or Hoody inspired from any real people in your life?
Yes. Jovan is very much like me as a kid. And Hoody his nemesis was inspired by a kid would bullied me in middle school named Noble, which is a strange name for a bully. LOL.
Did you ever have to deal with any bullies growing up?
Yes. Noble was a prototypical bully. He was much bigger and stronger than most of the kids our age and was incredibly intimidating. There was one incident where I stood up to him and it was liberating. Finding the courage to stand up to him helped me instill courage in Javon.
When do you feel like a superhero?
Oh my goodness. So often. When I’m speaking to a group of students about the power and joy of reading. When I hear from a reader of one of my books declare that my characters look like them. When I’m in the zone writing a story. When I finish a book. And when I’m hanging with my kids who make me so proud.
Do you have any exciting new books coming soon?
Like I previously mentioned, my Danny Dollar spinoff called Danny Dollar’s Guide to Make Your Own Money – How Kids Can Earn It, Save It, Spend It And Dream Big.
That should be available spring of 2021.
What is your favorite part about connecting with young readers?
I love when reluctant readers say that they didn’t like reading until they read one of my books. It’s my ultimate goal to cultivate as many readers as possible.
What books are on your current reading list?
I’m currently reading Eddie Glaude Jr’s Begin Again.
What do you like to do in your free time when you are not writing?
I love spending time with my three kids who are 17, 20 and 23. I enjoy working out, movies and restaurant hopping. I’m definitely a foodie but not a very good cook.
If you could travel to any fictional book world, where would you go and what would you do there?
Because I’m a superhero fan it would have to be at the most famous superhero dwelling ever. Batman’s Bat-cave. I’m sure Batman wouldn’t let me touch anything but I would beg him to try on one of his suits, test out a gadget or two and of course ride shotgun in the Bat-mobile.
Be sure to read my reviews of books written by author Ty Allan Jackson: