Q: This is your first novel. Where did you get the idea for this book?
A: That is correct, this is my first novel. My first book, was a collection of poetry entitled, If I Decide To Fly! Collected Poems of Affirmation and Celebration For African-American Men (https://www.amazon.com/If-I-Decide-Fly-Marina/dp/096414252X). I also cut a cd that included selected poems from that book as well (https://www.amazon.com/Decide-Fly-Affirmation-Celebration-African-American/dp/B00116GJCU). The idea for this novel came to me one day when I was sitting at my kitchen table. The first line of the manuscript came to me out of nowhere, and the rest is history.
Q: How long ago was that?
A: Over twenty years ago!
Q: Wow! Why did you decide to publish it now?
A: That's another book in and of itself! The short answer is that I finally decided it was time. I'm ready now. That hasn't always been the case.
Q: Can you expound a little more? I'm intrigued.
A: What I will say is that this book can be conceived as very controversial. I had to reconcile myself with that and be okay with that possibility.
Q: I can see that having read the book. Your characters are so real! There were a few that I wanted to literally choke! I found myself talking to them as I read the book! How were you able to create such realistic characters?
A: I believe the characters are real. Just because I don't know them doesn't mean they aren't real. None of my characters are based on people in my life or people I know, but in terms of their stories being relatable, they are real. What I was able to do was get out of the way and allow them to tell their stories through me.
Q: Was that hard to do?
A: In the beginning, yes!
A: Well, because if I'm honest, I was afraid. I was afraid of what people might think. Afraid of being judged, criticized and stereotyped. Initially, I tried to change the voices of my characters to be more "accepting." That didn't work because they weren't having it! So back to what I said earlier, I had to be okay with me. I had to evolve to a space where I didn't care what other people thought. When I did that, I wasn't concerned about how my characters showed up. I allowed them to be authentic.
TO BE CONTINUED...