We had the good fortune of connecting with Esther Nicole Cunningham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Esther Nicole, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am from Atlanta, Ga born and raised. I grew up in a religious household where education was a top priority. I didn’t spend summers like most kids, able to hang out with friends. My summers consisted of either being at my grandmothers or being dropped off at a library with an assignment. My dad was not only a pastor (yes I was a PK KID) but also a civil rights activist in the community. He would have me read and do research papers on topics mainly focused on black history, African culture or biblical narratives. I was then given the task to present my findings in report form in front of my family like I would have to do in a school setting. As a child and especially a teenager who longed for friendships resented my parents for this. I felt like my childhood was being stolen from me. I felt sheltered by being denied access to form friendships and relationships outside of family and church. As an adult I can now appreciate the knowledge that I absorbed in those summers spent in the library. Writing became nostalgic for me and a form of therapy or outlet to cope in tough times. Today due to the discipline, education, and focus in writing I am able to use my gift to not only make residual income from being a self published author, but I am able to curate stories for children that they can learn from and their parents can relate to and resonate with.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a self published author and owner of Aster Starr Publishing. When I decided to start writing books I had the vision to not just write, but to also own my own publishing company. For an author, self-publishing is a clear path to freedom. Freedom from agents, freedom from low royalties and, most importantly, the freedom to publish the book and the message you truly want to share with the world. Having my own publishing company has done that for me. I am proud of my first children’s book that was released last year ‘Bo monkey and his stinky situation’ a tale of true friendship and the impact honesty has in a simple kind gesture. I love that I was able to create something that resonated with kids and their parents all while teaching a lesson to children that we all could learn from and that’s honesty and kindness. I’m in the works of releasing a second children’s book with the same kind of focus on teaching children life lessons through stories. I got to where I am by researching, networking and using life as a beacon to create. Entrepreneurship may not be for everyone but I urge everyone to live out their dream and go after any goal you set for yourself in life. I want people to know that this is only the beginning of my journey in writing I have stories I can’t wait to share with the world.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a big foodie and love that Atlanta has pretty much turned a lot of restaurants into lounges with an ambiance that welcomes a vibe for entertainment. I’d take them on a food tour of Atlanta. My favorite thing to do currently is brunch and Atlanta offers a lot of brunch options that turn into pretty much day parties. Outside of food Atlanta also offers an abundance of art shows, nature trails, and street art, just to name a couple of things I love to get out and explore.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I will forever be thankful for the women who entered my life as mother figures when I needed it the most. To my husband I give thanks, often times we sit on our gifts not recognizing or potential or own brilliance but he did and he pushed me to share it with others. I also want to shoutout Diamond McNulty for mentoring me and my kids for inspiring me with stories I can turn into books.