He stood up abruptly, towering over me. Instinctively, I backed up, bumping against the railing. He closed the space that slipped between our bodies and placed his icy, calloused hand around the back of my neck, pulling me close. His embrace sent a chill down my spine. My legs shook like pudding and I couldn’t stop myself from falling into him.
“Will you go with me?” he asked, only inches away. His sweet breath warmed my face and the invitation fluttered out of my hand.
Right then, the whole world seemed to stop.
My mind drew a blank. I couldn’t think of any words, so I nodded. Before I knew it, his lips brushed mine, gently at first, almost as if it were a mistake. Somewhere, in the pit of my belly a butterfly bat its wings.
I don’t think I ever made the decision to become a writer. Writing chose me. I’ve always had an active imagination. I could get lost in my own head for hours so I was a natural reader. I read so much that I decided I could possibly write something, and I’ve been writing ever since. I didn’t make the jump into full-time writing until May 2013 when I quit my full-time job to become a full-time fiction writer. I only have one life to live. I might as well spend it doing what I love, which is reading and writing young adult fiction.
2. What defines a successful career for you?
My ultimate career goal is to become a New York Times Bestselling author by 30. I am aware that is a very steep goal, but I strive every day to make it come true. I think I could call myself a success when a young boy or girl says he or she loved my book. That’s what this is all about, essentially. Promoting literacy and getting kids of all colors to not only read but to enjoy reading.
3. What’s the most challenging part of writing? Favorite part?
The most challenging part of writing is not being distracted by the internet. My favorite part of writing occurs once the writing and editing is all over. I love typesetting books and picking fonts, etc. I’m pretty much a nerd.
4. How does The Legacy stand out from other authors in your genre?
Young adult fiction is crying out for diversity. The YA community even created a movement on Twitter, using the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks, and The Legacy provides that. I am an African American YA fiction writer, and there aren’t very many of us. I can name only a few. At the same time The Legacy surrounds all African American characters, which only account for approximately less than 10% of all YA books published every year. The Legacy stands out because this book is the first of its kind.
5. What do you want readers to take away from the novel?
The Legacy, and essentially The Birthright Trilogy, follows Raevyn and her friends as they matriculate through college. The novels address some of the hard issues that most young adults face during the prime years of life like self-discovery, and the importance of the right career choice. I struggled with finding my passion when I was graduating college. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick something I truly loved or something that would make me money. The Birthright Trilogy addresses this issue. Most of the kids in this book don’t have a choice. They have to follow their legacy, meaning follow in their parent’s footsteps when choosing a career. They struggle internally with their own passions. They must chop away all parts of themselves that make them unique and special and assimilate into the world of Black excellence. I want readers to realize that they can choose to live their lives the way they want to. You only have one life. Why not spend it doing exactly what you want to do?
For the older readers, I want people to feel like they were just reacquainted with an old friend. With a lack of quality African American programming in the media, I wanted to create a nostalgic feeling of home. I was raised on The Cosby Show and A Different World and I wanted to create something that would give people my age the same feeling, that when we grew up we could be black excellently just like the Huxtables.
6. What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I am reading. When I’m not reading, I’m writing. Any good writer is first an avid reader. When I’m not doing either of those, I am probably binge watching Criminal Minds or I have my cell phone glued to my hand on Instagram.
7. What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am finishing up book 3 of The Birthright Trilogy. At the same time I am cleaning up/writing/editing a dystopian manuscript I started a few years ago.