For pleasure, I like to read challenging and experimental books that force me to see how the greats wrote and what I can borrow from them. Currently, I am reading "The House of the Spirits," by Isabel Allende. Books that I love that have challenged me and helped me as a writer include: God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, The Garden of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges, Dhalgren by Samuel Delaney, and Beloved by Toni Morrison. And, everything by Yusef Komunyakaa, James Baldwin, Staceyann Chin, Michelle Tea, Mark Danielewski, and Ethan Canin.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
The book marketing techniques that have been most effective for me are word of mouth, social media, book giveaways, and interviews.
Describe your desk
In the center of my desk is my laptop, which I have had since 2006. Around it, there is an unopened wine bottle from Ensanada. Four dusty vases that hold wilted flowers, pine leaves, pebbles, a postcard, scissors, and writing instruments. Everywhere else, in every space, is paper. It is a complete mess.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Jacksonville, FL and lived in walking distance to a small library branch. I loved to go there and read fiction books and flip through the art books. I had a gigantic bookcase in my room, which contained hundreds of books. My mother loved to read. Her room had hundreds of books and magazines. I have her obsession. I have too many magazines and books.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing at age 14. I read a poem by Maya Angelou. It changed my life.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is called A Love Like Blood. I wanted to write a book dealing with the layers of race, religion, Americanism, and sexuality and how those things can disrupt the father-son relationship. Carsten, the protagonist, his grandfather migrated from Somalia to Chicago to have a better life for his family. In the process, he changed the family’s last name and converted from Islam to Catholicism to be more “American.” Carsten’s father is Somali and his mother is Cuban. I wanted to examine these ideas in a reliable and sympathetic character and see how he would change and force the reader to question influencers. Now, I am just ready to hear back from the readers.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I am new to Smashwords. So we shall see.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Hearing what people have to say about it. I believe that art cannot exist until someone sees it, feels it, hears it, or experiences it. I love exchange.
What are you working on next?
A collection of short stories.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing and reading.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
What is your writing process?
Outline. Brainstorm. Write the rough draft. First draft. Editing it to death.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.