Here’s the situation… Tiffany L. Warren began her writing career in 2003 when she signed with Walk Worthy Press to publish her debut, What a Sista Should Do. She has gone on to publish twenty-two full-length novels (eleven under pen name, Nikki Carter), six novellas with Hachette Book Group, and currently with Kensington Books (Dafina). In addition to writing books, Tiffany has a love for theatre, especially musicals. She has used her songwriting talent combined with writing to write and produce several stage plays: What a Sista Should Do, The Replacement Wife and Just Like Yo’ Daddy, which featured many familiar faces like the late Tommy Ford, Grammy-winning Shirley Murdock, Terri J. Vaughn, and Christian Keyes, to name a few. Tiffany is married with five children, and resides in Maryland.
The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino caught up with Tiffany L. Warren to discuss her notable writing career, as well as her new novel, Her Secret Life, which will be available everywhere books are sold on April 25, 2017.
Michelle: Since 2005, you have blessed us with over twenty entertaining and amazing novels. When did you first develop a love for writing?
Tiffany: That love developed when I was very young. I started reading at age four, and my love for writing was an extension of that. I started writing stories in elementary school. My first paid writing piece was an essay I wrote in tenth grade. My local newspaper was running an essay contest called “Ninety words for the 90’s”. My essay was a humorous satire on the pigeons in downtown Cleveland and Bernie Kosar, the Cleveland Browns then-quarterback. I won first place! My mom took half my money. A very ominous lesson about a writer’s earnings. HA!
Michelle: Your debut novel was the title, What a Sista Should Do. From where did you draw inspiration to pen your first novel?
Tiffany: When I wrote that book, I was still very new to church life – and praying in the manner of churchgoing Christians. My childhood had a very different brand of faith. When I wrote What a Sista Should Do, I was exploring the power of prayer in my own life.
Michelle: Of all genres of writing, why did you select faith-based fiction?
Tiffany: I didn’t. I had never even read anything called faith-based fiction. I think in the recent publishing climate, there’s this thing happening where people are trying to write to a specific genre where they think they can successfully market. I had never even heard of faith-based fiction, and really, hadn’t read too much Mainstream African-American fiction. My reading list was very eclectic. You would find Octavia E. Butler, Gloria Naylor, Toni Morrison, Stephen King, James Baldwin and Anne Rice on my bookshelf.
When I started submitting my novel, I was told that it was faith-based fiction. Looking back, that is probably the reason I even got the book deal. My writing was pretty terrible back then, but faith-based fiction was hot! I didn’t have an objection to it, and so that’s how it began. I will say I go through phases of what to even call my books. I’m not with a Christian publisher, and my books aren’t carried in Christian bookstores. Today, I’m claiming the Mainstream title. Next year, maybe it’ll be Women’s Fiction.
Michelle: You have a gift for spreading “the word” without being preachy. How are you able to convey these inspirational messages in such an unimposing way?
Tiffany: I think it’s, again, because I don’t set out to write something faith-based. I try to tell stories about how people deal with adversity. I don’t protect my characters from bad things happening – I hurl them headfirst into the fire, and watch them struggle to come out whole. Some people, like me, tackle adversity with the tenets of their faith. Some deal with trials in other ways.
Michelle: On April 25th, your new book, Her Secret Life, will be released. Please tell us what the book is about.
Tiffany: This book is about a young woman named Onika, who has had to learn survival skills on her own, from a very young age. Her mother is addicted to her drugs, and the grandmother that raises her is addicted to her church, and the idea of Onika’s mother being healed of her addiction. She seeks to escape her environment by attending a prestigious college and gaining entry to the Black elite.
Michelle: Give us some insight on the book’s main character, Onika Lewis. Who is she, and why should her story matter to us?
Tiffany: Onika has a different take on faith than many of my previous protagonists. She has the idea that church and religion really caused many of the problems in her life, so rejects the basic tenets of the Black church. She believes her help cometh from getting up, and doing something about her situation. Even at rock bottom – being homeless on the streets of DC, she doesn’t have a typical epiphany. I really enjoyed exploring her psyche, and the reasons she made certain choices.
Michelle: What do you hope people walk away with once they’ve read Her Secret Life, or any other Tiffany L. Warren title?
Tiffany: I hope when anyone reads any of my books, that they’ve gone on a journey with my characters. I don’t purposely inject “lessons” or a “moral of the story.” I want readers to have their own takeaways. My goal is to write a satisfying story.
Michelle: What’s next for Tiffany L. Warren?
Tiffany: Next year, my Kensington release is called The Outside Child. I am really excited about this story which is a very complex tale of the results of infidelity in a marriage.
Michelle: When your last book is written, and released, what do you want to be remembered for? What will be Tiffany L. Warren’s legacy?
Tiffany: I want to be remembered for creating compelling characters and amazing stories.
Michelle: Please tell our readers how they can contact and/or follow you.
About The Book
Scarred by poverty and life with a crackhead mother, Onika Lewis had a rough start. Still, thanks to her sharp mind, and hard work, she graduated with honors from a prestigious college. But her achievements weren’t enough to earn her the elite status she craved. So she leveraged her gorgeous looks to become a rich man’s trophy…and was eventually dumped her for a younger model. Now Onika is unemployed, broke—and homeless. She’s making a fresh start through a unique women’s shelter, but when she meets Graham, a kind-hearted commuter with whom she has an instant connection, she can’t bring herself to tell him her secret…
Suddenly Onika has someone who cares about who she is beyond her looks. Graham’s unselfish love gives her the kind of hope she’s never had. But when Onika’s wealthy ex wants her back, she plays one deception too many trying to have it all. Now present lies and past secrets are tearing her world apart. And Onika will need to educate herself once more—to learn what really matters, find faith, forgiveness—and build a life she truly deserves.