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Akilah Jeffery, International Young Adult Author: Real Life Meets Fiction

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1What’s more exciting, true stories or fantasy? For author and high school teacher Akilah Jeffery, real-world experiences, along with the stories she writes, are equally fascinating.

As the international author of the young-adult fiction novel Wilda Silva: Secret Keeper, A.A. Jeffery, her pen name, shares the account of a teenage fairy and a musical child prodigy who seek to solve an international mystery. Yet in real life, Jeffery also partakes in overseas adventures in Rwanda, where her book has been published and translated into the local language.

Writing from the Start
Akilah’s journey as a writer started at an early age, although she didn’t pursue a professional calling until much later. “I always liked to make up stories,” she said, thinking back to creative short narratives she created in elementary school. She admits she always had ideas and a creative imagination, but she never considered her interest more than a hobby.

Graduating from the University of California of Berkeley in 1997, Akilah majored in international relations and foreign trade. With this degree, she was encouraged to attend law school and enrolled at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. From 2010 to 2015, she practiced immigration law in the state of Washington. Despite her bustling career, Jeffery continued her hobby of writing and other favorite pastimes, including her love of science fiction television shows. But in 2014, she wanted to pursue other interests and desired to move back to California to be close to family.

It was here she left law and began to work as a substitute teacher, where she discovered a new love of teaching, especially at the high school level. She enrolled in a master’s and credential program from Fortune School of Education; by 2015, she had her first teaching job in Oakland. She soon relocated to the San Joaquin Valley and in 2016, she took a position at Lincoln High School in Stockton, where she currently teaches world history and ethnic studies, and simultaneously teaches law classes at San Joaquin Delta College. She also serves on the board for the
Stockton Symphony.

Despite her new career and relocation, Akilah continued her writing. In 2018, she developed the idea of a young girl, Wilda Silva, who moves to Belfair woods of Washington state, plays the flute and travels the world to discover shape-shifting fairies from Africa, Asia, Scandinavia and beyond. Like many authors, she had drafted parts of the novel and would write when time allowed. But when the pandemic began and the lockdowns emerged, she had more time to dedicate to her writing, finishing the story of Wilda Silva, which she self-published. She said her father, her greatest fan, was a big part of her story. “I would read aloud to him the story, and when I knew that he liked it, I knew the story was good.”

Books in Rwanda
Yet Akilah soon found that her character, Wilda Silva, would not be the only one traveling to far-off places. As the pandemic bans lifted and she and other teachers returned to the classroom, she took an interest in Rwamagana Leaders School, an international school in Rwanda where her former principal had served as a board member. Curious to know more, she jumped on a plane during the summer of 2022, hoping to assist the students. The principal was eager to have her teach a class. While her background as a lawyer and her social science experience didn’t seem to fit the curriculum, the principal soon discovered Akilah’s skill with book writing would be invaluable, and she found herself teaching a creative writing class.

The school was also enthusiastic about her story and the characters. Admittedly, she had brought only one copy of Wilda Silva and looked for a local printer to reprint the book. As luck had it, a local publishing company decided to take her on as an author; she revised and reprinted the novel on their publishing imprint. With this backing, she was able to mass print the book not only in English but also in the official language of Rwanda. Now, like the fairies in her book, her story has gone international.

Still, Akilah Jeffery only recently began to think of herself as an author, but she loves the worlds that she creates and thinks of her characters as friends. Her goal is to write a sequel to Wilda Silva and continue her journey of storytelling.

If you’d like to know more about Akilah Jeffery or obtain a copy of Wilda Silva: Secret Keeper, her website is; Instagram and twitter are @AuthorAAJ