What inspired you to become an author in such a competitive industry?
Writing has always been an innate part of my being. My mother was a schoolteacher. As a child she taught me how to articulate and express myself. These lessons led to my fascination with written words over the years. As a junior in college at the University of San Francisco, my English Literature professor, Patricia Hill kept me after a class and conveyed to me that she felt I held the gift of expression. This confirmation gave me great confidence in my talent. I have been writing ever since. Being a voracious reader, I have always admired and respected the different styles of other authors. As I’ve continued to mature, I’ve come to understand that my writings can uplift, inspire and captivate. I became an author in such a competitive industry because I have stories that need to be told and competition doesn’t dissuade me. As the Swiss artist Henry Fuseli said, “Art, like love, excludes all competition and absorbs the man.”.
What happened that you developed your creative part of your life?
My creativity comes from my vivid imagination. In first grade, I was introduced to my first comic book (I became a collector well into my adulthood). I fell in love with Peter Parker, AKA Spiderman and felt that my alter ego lived in the incredible Marvel Universe. Comic books allowed me to sink into the pages and exist in the fantasy world of my beloved heroes and supervillains. I began drawing my favorite characters and even created my own comic books. From comic books, I moved towards short stories and poems. By the time I became a teenager, I had penned hundreds of writings (poems, songs, stories). Unbeknownst to me, my mother began collecting my discarded writings and kept them for me (sharing them with me later in my life). During college, I became a movie buff. My college girlfriend, Myra Smith challenged me to write my first script noticing my love of storylines. I wrote my first movie script at twenty-one and have been developing my craft ever since.
What would you like people to walk away with after reading your book?
When people read Ten Feet Deep, I want them to feel a genuine connection with the story. My hope is that every person that reads the book will find a character with whom they identify. Additionally, I believe readers will find the subject matter not only compelling, but something to which they all can relate. Ten Feet Deep carries a profound message of understanding and acceptance, which will resonate with my readers. In the end, my hope is this book will foster a sense of empathy and promote love. Most of us have struggled with self-esteem, sexuality, the angst that comes with adolescence, and the ever-changing subtleties within a family. Ten Feet Deep will give the reader a chance to unpack some of these dynamics.
What does success look like for you regarding your book?
Success for me will not be represented by books sold. I will feel good, if my glimpse into my life makes others feel that they are not alone. I expect my book to take the reader through a gamut of emotions, ultimately, I hope that my novel will be recognized as a galvanizing piece of art. Although books are subjective, my gratification will come from readers sharing how good Ten Feet Deep made them feel.
What has been the most memorable response you have received from someone?
I have two memorable responses.
The first memorable response was a renowned editor, Alan Brown telling me that, the writing in the novel was beautiful and the storytelling so visceral, he thought the piece might someday be considered a literary classic. The second memorable response came from my control group. A female reader told me that the characters and writing was so relatable, that the Simmons family (from the novel) had truly become a part of her family. We even spoke about the characters and dialogued about situations in the book as if they were real life people and scenarios. Dope!
Where do you see your career in the next five years?
In five years, I will still be writing every chance I get. I see myself finishing several more novels and developing concepts for television and film. I see myself being a preeminent voice in African American literature. I expect my production company, Town Media, to be producing projects on three levels, books, film and music. God willing, I plan to share my gift with the next generation and through my non-profit ACE, I will a create a comprehensive high school curriculum to help aspiring writers.