Alesha Dixon, the singer/songwriter and TV judge turned children’s author, on childhood heroes, her spiritual side, and how she balances work roles with motherhood
Where did the inspiration come from for Lightning Girl and its lead character, Aurora Beam?
I’ve always been someone who enjoys writing – whether that’s music, poetry, or books that have never seen the light of day – but I guess the initial idea came from reading to my daughter every night, seeing the kinds of books she reads and the films she watches, and noticing the imbalance. Superheroes are something we’ve all grown up with, but I feel like Aurora Beam’s character – an 11-year-old girl of colour from the UK – is quite new. I felt like this was a good opportunity to inspire children to realise everyone has the ability to achieve what they want. And although Aurora Beam is the one with all the superpowers, she’s helped by a lot of people. She has an amazing group of friends called the Bright Sparks, and they all play a really key role in her succeeding.
How does it compare with your TV and music work?
Very different! Firstly, the book was a collaborative process with [author] Katy Birchall, who is incredible. I think of myself as a bit of a juggler – I have to switch modes every day – but this hasn’t felt like work at all. Even on holiday, I found myself coming up with plots for my next book. My dream is to one day see it come alive in animation.
What does Azura [Alesha’s four-year-old daughter] read?
She loves Julia Donaldson; Room on the Broom is her favourite, and The Highway Rat. Whenever I read to her, she usually interjects two sentences in – Azura likes to make up her own stories!
Who were your heroes when you were younger?
When I was little, it was popstars like Diana Ross, Madonna and Neneh Cherry. And, of course, Oprah Winfrey; I think she uses her platform really responsibly. There are people she has interviewed on her Super Soul Sunday show like Marianne Williamson, Gary Zukav and Wayne Dyer, and it’s those kinds of authors I like to read now.
How do you manage to juggle work with family life?
I’m lucky to have a really good support system and our jobs allow us flexibility so Azura has me all weekend. Having a child is a huge adjustment, but everything is doable, you just have to get used to a new normal. For anyone who feels overwhelmed, the only thing you can do is try to take some time for yourself. Remember, everything that tries to trip you up will eventually pass; the sun is always shining, it’s all good!
What else are you working on right now?
Britain’s Got Talent is happening, and I’m back in the recording studio. I don’t have a concrete plan to release anything right now, but I’m enjoying making new music. For the second half of the year, I’d like to try acting and do more voiceover work, too. I loved doing the voice of Bliss in The Powerpuff Girls, and that’s the kind of creative direction I’d like to keep moving in.