“I am hurting. Fractured in places stitches can’t heal.” Autumn’s Child tells the desperate story of Layla, as a young and naive twelve year-old girl. Over ten critical years, her life quickly changes like the colors of the trees in autumn. The accidental death of her parents forces her to abandon her religious, middle-class lifestyle. She moves to the inner city of Chicago with her grandmother and aunt, her only living relatives. Layla tries to approach her new life with optimism, but the perfections of her past life haunt her tormented journey. After coming to grips with the reality over the years that her only aunt despises her, Layla soon discovers that she may secretly hold the keys to helping her aunt’s diminishing health in her hands. Layla’s faith and sanity are continuously tested as she matures throughout each season of her life. She stumbles through her newfound reality while learning how to play the distinct set of cards she’s been dealt. Layla’s neighbor and best friend, Shay, helps guide her from adolescence into adulthood. Autumn’s Child chronicles a life on the opposite side of the coin; where friendships grow out of tragedy, and the pressure of a marginalized life weighs heavily on pure souls. Layla must make many compromising decisions, all while perpetually asking the reader, What would you do?
She came to me under a streetlight, with her right eye purple and a staggered step and said, “I wish it didn’t have to be this way.” I was relieved that Sadie could still talk and walk to the degree she did. Shay was a beast: I had seen her in action. When she struck, you saw your life flash in front of your eyes like blacked out memories.
Sadie carried a lavender caboodle that held all of her prized possessions, her makeup. The contents she would cling to, to make her beautiful again. She formed her mouth to speak but only tears and a throbbing gasp of air escaped. The streetlight above buzzed, flickered, and died, like everything else in the inner city. In the darkness, I ran away from her and her smeared makeup, busted lip, rainbow colored jaw and eye and only looked back once to see her still standing there under the silent light. Sadie was alone in the streets. She did not chase me but I continued to run. I wanted to curse her but my mouth couldn’t move even in the distance. I ran through the alley, down a side street, up the stairs and into my apartment. I locked the door, pushed the couch in front of it with the remnants of what remaining strength I had, and clasped onto it. My mind was spinning. I wanted to feel whole again.
With my eyes closed I heard Shay’s voice, dark and confirming and my heart dangled on the ledge of things falling apart. Shay asked me was I okay and I asked her why did she have to do it? I knew she had been waiting for that day, probably pacing her room counting down the seconds until she saw the red flag to pound on Sadie. I opened my eyes to see her soaking her hand in a bowl of ice as if she had done this before. I believe in reincarnation solely from following her around for the last eight years. She always knew what to do. They say that cats have nine lives and I believed that mankind does as well. With Shay’s experience she was probably on her last round. She had to have been here, to have lived this life more than once.
I summoned the courage to speak again and turned towards Shay, heartbroken. She frightened me when she was mad. She needed an owner to tame her sometimes like a pit bull needs a mussel. Her little baby dreadlocks stood up as fist ready to fight again and I lowered my head and said, “We should go somewhere safe. What if she tells her brother and they come back? He’s going to find out.”
Her sole reply was, “I can’t wait.” She paused to shuffle the ice around her hand.
Nicole Murray is a creative writer by passion, training, and profession. She is a Columbia College graduate with a degree in Fiction Writing and Marketing. Nicole’s dual Gemini personality helps her pursue creative writing as a personal profession.
Nicole explores the creative landscape of the mind to craft fiction out of real emotion. She currently writes short stories, novels, poems, and screen plays.
Nicole Murray also has extensive experience in digital content strategy, content development, and social media marketing. She has developed, lead, and contributed to a number of custom campaigns for leading brands such as Comcast’s African American digital and social initiatives, The Toyota Green Initiative, General Mills’ Feedings Dreams campaign, and P&G.
Nicole Murray, Autumns Child Interview:
- Describe your book Autumn’s Child in 30 words or less.
A journey of lost faith, renewed friendships, family sacrifices and, sexual compromise. Autumn’s Child chronicles the life of a young lady’s battle through reality after her parents pass away.
2. What messages are you sending through your writing? The message that I am sending through Autumn’s Child is that life doesn’t come with a tutorial or handbook. We are here on this earth with what God gave us, everything that surrounds us we experience and consume which make up the landscape of who we are. Each day it is up to us, as individuals, to take the faith and determination we were born with, as well as the surrounding elements that play a role in our existence and make this life work to the best of our ability. This is what Layla, in Autumn’s Child, struggles with. Her fear of becoming the demise of her own destiny. The only question the reader is left to answer at the end of the book is, “What would you do?”
3. What /who inspires you? I craft fiction from real emotion. The characters that I create are imaginary but the feelings are real. I strive to connect the reader with the feelings of the characters, not necessarily the characters themselves. Also, reading good books inspires me, and being surrounded by creative people who possess a stroke of divine genius. I am inspired to write, to put pen to pad, when I read or hear someone speak with a distinct purpose that touches home for me. I write when I feel the need to express.
4. What made you start writing and decide to self-publish? Autumn’s Child was birthed from a short story I wrote in College. I found myself wanting to know more about Layla, the main character. I recall thinking about her and her life and just started writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing and developing fictional characters but Layla held a personal connection in that I felt for her as if she was a real person. That is when I decided to expand on the story and turn it into a novel. I self-published because I believe in the story Autumn’s Child, and I believe in myself. It’s a new age; you have to take your goals into your own hands.
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book? Editing. Writing is the easy part; it is simply getting those feelings, characters, thoughts, and circumstances out of your head. The hard part is to make it make sense to someone beside your own imagination. To critique yourself and accept critique from others. Creative writing is exposing parts of who you are that other people don’t see and actually may not understand or appreciate. It is the manifestation of your imagination which so many people run from. For me, accepting the duty and desire to express what I felt for all of the characters in Autumn’s Child was difficult. I felt for them like I feel for my own loved ones.
6. What books have had the greatest influence on you? When I picked up White Oleander by Janet Fitch I knew that I had a duty to write and express. I connected. Kite Runner, and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini was a life changer for me, I cried reading that book, and I don’t cry often. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich has amazing prose. I realized after reading that book that life is a stream of poetic moments. And of course, The Bluest Eye by Maya Angelou, which is self-explanatory. The Bluest Eye is actually #1 on the list.
7. What plans do you have for the future as a writer? My plan is where ever the creator leads me, but if I have a say so in the matter, I am currently working on a short film with my creative partner. I am working on another novel that is completely different than Autumn’s Child, but just as relevant. I am also gearing up to start writing TV and feature film. I have a few ideas in the works now and we’ll see where it goes from there.
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