The highlight of running a site like In-spire LS is that I have the opportunity to interview who use their work to positively influence the lives of others. Children are the future and it is our responsibility to ensure we instil with them knowledge to tap into their self esteem and become who they’re destined to be. Journalist and children’s book author Davina Hamilton is the #powerwoman behind the inspiring debut book “Riley Can Be Anything” a children’s book which encourages and inspires children to open their horizons and dream big.

Hamilton is an accomplished Journalist having worked for the reputable newspaper The Voice for 15 years. I catch up with Davina to find out why she decided to move into the world of children’s literature,  how she overcomes barriers, how she balances work and family life, her tips for success plus much more. #BeINspired!.

Davina I absolutely loved ‘Riley Can Be Anything’; from the use of rhyme to the overall theme that children can be anything they put their minds to. How did you come up with the overall concept of this book? Is any of it based on your own experiences of being a parent yourself or did the inspiration come from somewhere else?

Firstly, thank you! I’m glad you like the book! I think the concept came about for a number of reasons. Naturally, as a parent, I want to instil a sense of self-worth and self-belief into my four-year-old daughter and three-year-old son, so that played a huge part. Additionally, since my daughter was a toddler, my mum has told her repeatedly you’re going to be the first doctor in the family! I think that repeated declaration which my daughter often states because shes heard Grandma say it so many times also had an impact on me. It served as proof that if we plant those seeds of ambition into our children from an early age, and we continue to feed their self-belief, they really will grasp the concept that they can be anything.

You have 15 years of journalism experience having been the former entertainment editor at the reputable UK publication The Voice. However, children’s book writing is quite a switch in a direction. How and why did you get into the journalism field and when did you realise that you wanted to move more into the literary world and produce your first children’s book?

I’ve always enjoyed writing so journalism was a dream profession for me. I was thrilled to gain a work experience placement at The Voice back in 2002 and from there, I worked my way up to the position of entertainment editor and gained a wealth of experience along the way, right up until I left the company last year. Over the years, I’ve also contributed to a number of other publications and I continue to do so now, so I’m still fully passionate about the art of journalism. But for a long time, I knew that I wanted to explore the literary world, I just wasn’t sure what type of book I wanted to write. Having my own children is what really spurred me on to try my hand at writing a children’s book

I have often said that as we live in the digital age with social media dominating much of our lives, it is increasingly difficult for children to just be that; children. This book brings back the innocence of children and their personal quests to discover what they want to be when they get older. What is your opinion of social media platforms and do you ever get concerned with the effects it can have on your children?

I’m one of those people who has a love-hate relationship with social media. I love that children can learn the alphabet or learn about shapes and colours via educational YouTube videos. But I’m often truly baffled by some of the child-focused content that exists via the world wide web. I think, as adults, we just have to do our best to help our children navigate social media in a way that is beneficial and also fun, and steer them away from content that may negatively affect them.

What struck me most about this wonderful story is the number of positive black male role models in Riley’s life. Too often, we’re presented with images of black males who have no fathers, are into a life of crime or possess no clear direction. However, ‘Riley Can Be Anything’ turns this dated stereotype on its head, as many of the males in Riley’s life and bloodline were a success as a Pilot, A Doctor and a Musician. How important was it for you to write the story in a way that his potential role models were all in his family? And in your opinion, how vital is that message overall?

I wanted Riley’s role models to be men within his family so that he didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Doing this also enabled me to dispel the stereotypes you referred to by showcasing a range of ambitious black men, who all hail from the same family. It was definitely my intention to create a story that featured an inspirational black family, as that’s not something we tend to see a lot of in the mainstream and I wanted to counter that. But the bigger picture is the importance of Riley or any child having positive role models and those figures don’t necessarily have to be family members.

‘Riley Can Be Anything’ is your debut children’s book. How easy or difficult was it for you to move from the overall planning and writing of the book to getting it published and how long did the overall process take?

I wrote the story last June and it was released this May so it took just under a year to bring it to life. After I wrote the story, I contacted a number of literary agents to see if they would consider representing me, but cue the violins;  nobody was interested. Long story short, I realised that doing things independently was going to be the most viable option for me so the next step was to enlist an illustrator. After that came the technical side; creating the book both physically and digitally, setting up the website, etc and thankfully, my husband took care of that side of things. It has been a challenging process but the fact that my husband and I have done things independently has made the successes all the more rewarding.

No children’s book would be complete without colourful and engaging illustrations. In your case, ‘Riley Can Be Anything’ was complete with vibrant illustrations by the talented Elena Reinoso. Were you involved in the process of the visual elements of the book and did the book turn out the way you had imagined?

I worked closely with Elena and told her what I was looking for and she showed me her sketches along the way. It was so exciting seeing my words come alive with her imagery. She definitely brought my vision to life.

When it comes to their career, many women can often struggle with balancing their home life with developing their career. How do you maintain the balance between the two worlds?

It’s definitely a challenge; there’s a lot of juggling required! I just do my best to maintain a balance, which means entertaining my children and fitting in any snippets of work I can get done while they play together. I’m also a freelance journalist, so if I have articles to write, I do that in the evening, after the kids have gone to bed.

What does a typical day in the life of Davina Hamilton the writer consist of?

A typical day for me is really more about looking after my children, so there’s plenty of playing, reading, tidying up toys and then doing that all over again! Work-wise, I literally fit in what I can throughout the day and that might involve sending out and replying to emails in relation to the book, as well as researching book-related topics.

In both your personal and professional life what drives and inspires you?

Personally, I’m inspired by the continued development of my children, which in turn, drives me to continue developing their abilities. Professionally, I’ve been immensely inspired by the support Riley Can Be Anything has received. I’ve had so much positive feedback from numerous parents who have bought the book for their children. One mother told me that her daughter was having a hard time being the only black child in her year group and the book was a real help in terms of allowing her daughter to see an array of positive black characters in one story. Another mother told me that her son loved the book because he could see himself in Riley. And one schoolboy even wrote me a letter to tell me that the book had inspired him to decide that he wants to be a pilot when he grows up. That type of feedback is both touching and inspiring. It drives me to keep pushing forward with this book and future books, in a bid to continue inspiring young minds.


What do you do to de-stress and unwind?

I enjoy exercise so I try to kick-start my mornings with a workout, at least a few times a week. I also love reading interesting articles, specifically culture-driven articles, parenting-focused pieces and quirky lifestyle features. I also enjoy a bit of Corrie [Coronation Street] in the evening!

No matter the path we may take, we all go through tough times in our lives. What barriers have you had to overcome; whether it be in your personal or professional life and what steps have you taken to overcome them?

In bringing Riley Can Be Anything to life, I encountered knock-backs from literary agents and book organisations, who weren’t willing to get behind the project. Of course, that was disappointing, but thankfully, it gave me the drive to push on anyway. The book has gone on to receive wonderful support from a host of outlets in the UK and internationally, so I’m glad I found the motivation to keep going, despite the initial disappointments. I see this process like a train journey: I’m grateful for everyone who has jumped on board, and for those who haven’t, the journey will continue anyway!

What words can you offer any aspiring writers reading this or to anyone who is working on pursuing their own personal career path?

I spent so long saying I wanted to write a book but nothing happened until I stopped talking about it and actually did it. Even without an agent or a publisher, you can still tell your story so get it written, do your research and go for it. The same goes for any career pursuit. Do your research, get to understand the career you’re looking to pursue and if you remain passionate about it, give it a go.

Do you have any events or news that we should know about?

My next book is titled Riley Knows He Can and it once again follows our young protagonist, Riley, on another quest of self-discovery. Stay tuned for that release!

How and where can In-spire LS readers keep up with you?

My website is

You can follow us on Twitter:

Facebook: RileyCanBeAnything



Thank you!


Riley Can Be Anything is available from






W| By Sasha Shantel                                                                                                                                     Via SpotlightInterviews

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