What made you decide to pen your first novel "Girl from the Gutter"?
I was working at the Screen Actors Guild and had just completed writing my first screenplay, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” I wanted to make the movie myself which would require additional funds that I did not have. Then I decided to write the book which has to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. It took me four long, grueling years to complete. There were scenes I wrote about my brother’s death and AIDS, how it affected me, dealing with a womanizer boyfriend, the repercussions of decisions that I ultimately had to make in my life, not just for myself but also my sons. And I wanted to deal with my brother’s passing in a positive way, let people know what it was like, the beautiful person that he was and that at times we make decisions not fully realizing the impact it will have for ourselves as well as others in the future. I wrote this book to say, We should be more supportive of our brothers out there, they have faults, we have faults, no one is perfect, just support them and love them.
It seems you like to do things on your own, make the movie, self publish your book…what do you attribute those initiatives to?
I’m not one of those defiant women who don’t need somebody to do things for me. Early on I developed a sense of doing things on my own, from the time I was a single parent at 15 years old, working in a corporate environment by the time I was 18. While my friends were busy partying and living carefree, I was assisting top level executives at Fortune 500 companies and dedicated to taking care and loving my son. As life went on, I was met with continuous disappointments in others and just vowed that if I was going to do anything, I was going to do it myself.
As a teenaged mother, I attended a school where we got to bring our children with us while we learned. The director of this program was under the leadership of Dr. Betty Shabazz. Her energy was so vibrant and she made you want to learn as much as you could, just take all the knowledge you could get and then some. Then at home, I was raised by my aunt, fondly called “Auntie” in the book, well she was into her senior life at that time and I would try to sneak out to attend a party or basketball game and she would yell, “take your package with you.” And it dawned on me, I am responsible not only for this person, but for developing him into a decent and loving human being. The things that I do will reflect on him.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Every morning before I can put one foot on the floor I smile, blow a kiss to G-d and say "thank you".
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Preferably traveling somewhere I can rest and unwind and take in nature. I'm an avid reader and love spa getaways. According to my sons in my spare time I like to get "in their business".
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I believe the first story I wrote was about my godsister, somewhere along the lines of she bought a date to go with her to the prom. Not too bad overall with the exception that I distributed it to most of the student body. She was a little peeved, okay, maybe a lot.
What is your writing process?
My process is that I have no process. I can only write when I'm in the mood. Music inspires me a lot. Being in love definitely takes my writing to a different dimension. When I'm moody or on my grind I can go months without writing.
How do you approach cover design?
Since I love art specifically abstract art I usually go with whatever "moves" me. It can have absolutely nothing to do with the storyline.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love a good tear jerking drama or a out of this world erotic novel.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Constantly I am asked "why are YOU single?" And for the longest I really couldn't come up with an answer. Then one day it just appeared. I'm single because I choose to be. So I started writing down my dating experiences. Its quite common for me to have a conversation with my Inner Circle and chat about "The Man Report" or start a conversation with "Let me tell you about my date..."
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being able to convey my thoughts on paper and create characters who I fall madly in love with is astonishing. The real joy is years later I can pick up one of my stories and feel as if I truly know the characters as well as a dear relative. Writing inspires me to feel Love every second of the day.
How would you describe “Girl from the Gutter”?
I took instances that have happened to me in my life, like taking care of my brother while he was terminally ill, becoming more educated about AIDS, what happens when those you love and trust stab you in the back, and the true meaning of unconditional love. The scenes describing real life instance with my brother was the most painful, everything came back to me as if it just happened. The only way I could write it all down and recapture my experience was by sheltering myself in my office for the weekend, no TV or contact with the outside world. Just me, my memories and a collection of Luther Vandross songs! I cried buckets, got through it and actually felt much better. Just imagine the absolute worst thing that could happen to you and instantly you’re thinking you won’t be able to handle it, life simply cannot go on for you. Then something tragic does happen and this amazingly sense of strength takes ahold of you like a visegrip and you actually get through it, and it makes you even stronger, and not just physical strength but mentally strong. Instead of keeping it bottled in, you want to share it with others. Writing this book helped me finally after all these years deal with my brother’s passing, it helped me break away from a co-dependent relationship and come to terms with the end of a friendship that has finally run its course.
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