I actually wanted to be two things: an opera singer and a sportswriter. Neither of those really panned out, but the sports writing grew to encompass writing in general and moved me into wanting to write stories.
Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
Into the Web is about twin mystery novelists, Jovan and Cheyenne Parham. Readers met the women in Death at the Double Inkwell. ITW takes off about two years after DDIW end. In ITW, the twins are still working to pick up the pieces of their lives while trying to find a balance between their writing careers and the relationships they have. Their relationships and writing take a major hit when they find themselves connected to a string of murders involving young teenage girls who are lured off a popular teen social networking site to their deaths. Here’s the book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsiU17qbBZQ
Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
Yes, definitely. One story that I have been writing some on, INSIDE, is taken from my thoughts regarding young girls who are abducted and then returned months, sometimes, years later. We tend to see those People magazine stories of them doing so well and excelling and all, and I just know it’s not always that way. INSIDE looks at one of those women who now still lives with the horrific past as if it’s fresh and new every day.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Nothing is really challenging about writing for me – except making the time to do it in the midst of all the other things I do in a day. I think the most challenging things come from the atmosphere surrounding writing, such as dealing with rejections, promoting and marking your wares, figuring out the best avenue(s) for getting your work out to the public, etc.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Write what you love because if you don’t like it readers won’t either. Become a lifelong learner to the writing craft. Writing because you love to write is great, but good writers become better writers by studying and growing.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don’t really believe in writer’s block. We call it that because we want to write but nothing will come out. That’s not a block. That’s part of the process sometimes. In the past, I would freak out when the writing wouldn’t come. Now, I embrace that as a time to fill the writing well while I work on other projects. If you’re meant to write, the writing will come.
Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
Fave author? Bernice McFadden. Her debut novel, Sugar, is probably the number one book I talk about all the time. I preach it to anyone who will listen. It’s been out for over ten years, and I still think it’s fresh and poignant and painful and beautiful all at once. Bernice writes from the bone; she writes right in the hairline crack in the bone that hurts. Her characters breathe on the page, she often picks topics that are painful to read about, yet her writing is so wonderfully culled together that you are lured into the stories created.Sugar definitely makes my most influential books list for the reasons stated. Also on that list is Beloved by Toni Morrison (it’s poetry in motion and definitely resonates with my feelings of rhythm and movement in fiction), The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (it is a delicious book that shows just how to be decadent in writing but not to the point of turning off the reader), and Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z. Packer (collection of short stories full of real, tangible African American characters that drew me in immediately).
How did you deal with rejection letters?
Haven’t had many of those since I’ve decided to self-publish most of my works and found a publisher for my mysteries. In the past, when I was first starting out, the rejections would kill me because I let them define who I was as a writer. I would save them, and actually, I had a big shoebox filled with crumpled up rejection letters. At some point, I decided to throw them out, and once I did that, I moved into trying to think of rejections as just one of the steps needed to get to where I wanted to go.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Words, the love of writing, and the ability to play What If? and to let the mind go wherever it needs to in answering the question. Those are for starters. Having a well-read reader or two in the arsenal to read things isn’t a bad idea either. Also, having a writer friend who is on the same level (or ring higher than you) as you is important, too. Writing is already such a solitary act; I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have others to talk about writing to, to push me in my writing endeavors. If looking for an editor or agent, books like the Writer’s Market are great to have, too. Also, it’s important for writers to get an idea about what their strengths and weaknesses are so that they can find resources (online and in print, free and for cost) that can help them develop their weaknesses into strengths.
Don’t forget to give us links to your website etc.
Into the Web book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsiU17qbBZQ