1. What is your name and where are you from?

I'm Cheryl Diane Parkinson. I was born in Britain, East London to Jamaican parents. Although I was born in the UK I did spend some time in the West Indies. I attended school in Kingston Jamaica, as well as spent some time in St Elizabeth and Westmoreland. I currently live in Essex just outside London with my three children: Jordon, Jessica and Amelia.

2. Tell us about your educational pathway?

One thing that has always stood out for me was my mother telling me that I need a 'string of qualifications' in order to survive. Being black, I would have to work twice as hard as my white counterparts. And so, from an early age I worked hard at school. I completed my GCSE's as well as my A Levels. I then attended Middlesex University for my undergraduate degree in English Literature and American Studies. It was then that 'life hit me' and had a serious operation which put things on hold. After an experience of getting closer to death than I or my family found comfortable, I met and married.  This suspended my educational journey. After two children, the marriage failed and in order to earn enough money to look after my family alone, I re enrolled at a university to continue my educational journey. It was then that I discovered a course that I was very interested in, Colonial and Post Colonial Literature in English. And so, I studied this MA, and also did an apprenticeship-style course to become a Teacher of English. It was difficult, but I was successful. I graduated from my Master's Degree, and also from my teacher's course. My hobby of writing took a more serious turn as I began to look at becoming a published author. I went on to publish poetry and an article on Institutional Racism within schools for The National Union of Teacher's newsletter after issues when searching for local secondary schools for my son. After a brief reconciliation with my husband and a third child, we divorced. This spurred me on to focus on my writing, and so write novels and submitted lots to literary agents. During my search for an agent, I came across an advert for a PhD in Creative Writing. I am currently in my third year of the course. I still teach full time, in an all boys Catholic School in East London, teaching English Literature and Language GCSE and A Level. I am also a successful single parent of three children.

3. Tell us your children stories?
 I write stories that are firstly, I feel, entertaining. Having children of my own, I wanted something that they would enjoy. They inspire me with ideas, characters and plots. And they love nothing more than being the protagonist in a story written by me.  I then think of how they can learn something from the stories, whether it's a moral, or an example in alliteration, or to show them the consequences of naughty or bad behaviour.

4. How can people find you online?

I have a couple of blogs that I regularly write on, as well as a Facebook writer's page, WordPress and twitter. I also write under Faith and I... about being Black British. 


5. How do you balance your work life and home life?

It's extremely difficult, and a constant struggle, but, as my mother says, nothing worth having comes easy. I work as and when I can. My children always come first and so if they are ok, then I am ok. As a teacher, I am constantly playing catch-up on marking and planning of lessons, and so I balance my time to where I am needed most. So long as my children are catered for and are happy, I then see what needs my attention most. I continually juggle - but in a strange way, I enjoy the challenge. I definitely enjoy the rewards of doing a good job in all areas. It's an amazing feeling to have past pupils who are successful in life, come and thank me for being there for them, as a teacher and as a role model... very rewarding.

6. What is your dream vacation?

  Somewhere hot, on a beach, with a good book, cool drink in hand, preferable served by an handsome young man in shorts. Haha! :-)

7. Who do you want to inspire?
Toni Morrison is an absolute hero of mine. If I can be half the writer she is, I shall be very happy.

8. What is your dream goal?
To be a successful, published writer that has her stories translated into films. And to make my children, and my mother, who raised four of us alone, very proud of me. 

9. Any last words or shoutouts?

To my children, Jordon, Jessica and Amelia, for their love and patience with their momma. To my mother Monica for her continual support and guidance, and my sister Jacquie, for reading everything and anything I chuck at her asking for constructive feedback. :-)
Thank you all. :-)

10. What is a hustler?

Someone who does what they need to do look after themselves and their own.

Ms. Cheryl Diane Parkinson
Doctoral Researcher at Birmingham University
 
http://about.me/cheryl.parkinson
https://twitter.com/meghead55
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cosmo-Plum/683163401720010?ref=tn_tnmn