1. When did you fall in love with books?
I fell in love with books at an early age. I’d say around the age of seven. Every Saturday afternoon, after our assigned household chores were finished, my parents would drive my three sisters and me (my brothers were usually with their friends) to the downtown public library in the city. My parents would drop us off there for about two hours—the children’s’ department—and we would read books and then checkout at least three that we liked. Basically, it was my mother who instilled in me a love for reading. My sisters and I were exposed to various types of genres: nursery rhymes, brothers Grimm, biographies, autobiographies, history books, the classics, fantasy books, and even song books.
2. When did you realize you wanted to write?
I would say around the early 1980s, that’s when I realized that I wanted to write. I believe that period in my life was the most interesting because I was just entering adulthood: my twenties. From the mind and perspective of a twenty-year-old, life seems much more interesting and adventurous. That’s the age when life lessons challenge set opinions and views. It is the age when the innocence of youth is stripped away and one is exposed to new ideas and lessons from an adult point of view. Life opens up a whole new world then. So I would write for myself. That is to say, I wrote to entertain and engage my personal thoughts, and to analyze my experiences and beliefs. I had no purpose to publish any type of writing until I reached my mid-forties.
3. Tell us about yourself.
I’m fifty-two. I was born and raised in the Midwestern town of Muncie Indiana, and I currently live in Virginia. I am the sixth-born of eight siblings—four brothers and three sisters. I’m an artist and web-designer, now I can add author to that list. I’m also married. I’ve been married for over thirty years; yes, to the same man. I’m somewhat an introvert, but on the flipside of that coin I can be sociable in familiar circles. My faith and family are utmost important to me, if not my everything. Meaning, the Lord Jesus Christ is foremost in my life. My family comes second, and I am third. I am currently exercising my talents to learn the violin, which is proving to be an enjoyable challenge.
4. Who are your favorite authors?
I have a variety of favorite authors. Some will find it strange that this African-American writer is an avid fan of English literature. Therefore, my favorites are the popular writers of the 1700s to 1800s, such as: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters (Emily, Charlotte, Anne). But I also enjoy the more modern writers as well, most of which are writers of the Christian/Inspirational genres: T.D. Jakes and Cindy Trimm, to name two. Of course, there are other writers in the secular field; Steve Harvey is becoming more appealing to me. And who doesn’t enjoy the celebrated works of Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes? I also have a place in my heart for forelore tales by the character Uncle Remus (compiled by Joel Chandler Harris). My list of favorite authors are starting to grow each year.
5. What are your favorite books?
A look at my favorite authors will hint at my favorite books. There are many, so I won’t list them all. Of course, the Holy Bible is my favorite, and that goes without saying. After all, it is the bestseller of all time. My favorites are also: A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Emma, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Woman Thou Art Loosed, Commanding Your Morning, The Best of Simple, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Act Like a Lady-Think Like a Man, and Straight Talk-No Chaser.
6. What would you like for readers to get out of Remove the Fig Leaves?
Good question. Although the gift of “love” is the one specific element for the readers to grasp fromRemove the Fig Leaves, I would also like for readers to know that love encompasses all things and hope endures,even in the face adversities, dire circumstances, and loss. I believe each reader will find something different to embrace from the novel. I don’t want the novel to speak at you, but rather to speak to you. Place yourself in the shoes of the two main characters: Dr. Preston Good and Lola Cartwright. Then ask yourself, what would you do? Would your faith be strong enough to hold on to hope? Would you be angry with God? Would you give up on love? Could you move beyond your profession and/or faith to heal the hurt of another, even when you are hurt? Or would you hide behind the fig leaves of excuses, anger, regret, distrust, anguish, jealousy, uncertainty and loss?
7. What makes you unique as an author and what sets your book apart from other books in the same genre?
There are several things that make me unique as an author. First, I prefer to write mainly from the male (hero) protagonist point of view instead of the female protagonist. Most romance novels will make the female protagonist the most notable voice and character. Secondly, I want the hero to be an African-American, Christian, masculine, “alpha” man, as there are few stories written about minority men; men who are moral in character, yet flawed, big-hearted and brave, yet they face vulnerabilities. It is my endeavor to set my book apart from the ordinary view to promote “good” men who respect femininity and demonstrate godly character. Men who don’t engage in profanity to articulate words—who value society and their communities. Sensual men who shun promiscuity for the selfish sake of fulfilling one’s own gratification. Respectful men that preserve the dignity of African American women. My novel does have sensual scenes, but it only allows for sexual intercourse to take place in the confines of marriage, and even then behind the closed doors of discretion.
8. What is your writing process?
There are so many paths to take in the writing process. Focusing on the topic (characters and plots) is first and foremost, which gives an account of the story’s overall message. Making an outline and/ordraft helps to keep characters, scenes and chapters in sync, and it also helps with scene transitions. An outline makes me accountable to the story from the beginning, middle, and conclusion. Critical thinking plays an important role in my writing process, which helps in seeing multiple sides of issues and plots. I would be remiss to neglect research;a great deal of in-depth study on each character’s profession and personality is required. If the character is said to be of wealthy status, or has a professional background, then I should capture the dialect and the articulation of the character. Not only that, I must show how the character functions in his vocation by using the correct words. For example, a doctor in the middle of surgery wouldn’t ask for a knife, but would ask for a scalpel. Therefore, simple things, such as the medical terms for tools, will give fictional stories a feel of credibility. Editing andproofreading are arduous tasks, but it is essential to my writing overall. In Remove the Fig Leaves I had chosen to be more involved in my novel as a whole by designing the book cover, website, and book trailer. Wearing so many hats was exhausting, but it was also a rewarding experience. As a novice, I am quickly finding my way in the writing world.
9. Are you currently working on anything new? If so, please give a brief synopsis and when should we expect it?
I am currently working on my second novel, Romancing the Stony Heart, which is set to date for mid-January, 2013. Romancing the Stony Heart will be a three book series.
Air force Chaplain, Carson King unwittingly falls in love with Seprah Nelson. However, she’s a nonbeliever of the Christian faith who seems to harden her heart against God’s call to salvation. Carson hopes to win Seprah’s heart for himself, and her soul for heaven’s gain. But he’s a man of secrets, which may wreak consequences in the dating relationship he had hoped to develop with Seprah.
Seprah Nelson is a pastor’s daughter and the assistant director of her father’s church daycare center. Her uncanny beauty gives her a shot at fame and fortune when a prominent modeling agent offers her a contract. Just when all seems well in her life, a tragedy occurs and threatens Seprah’s safety. Although Carson makes arrangements to protect her, his measures may toss her from the frying pan into the fire when his look-alike half-brother, Laramie, who is more worldly than Carson is Christian, seeks to gain Seprah’s love for himself.
Will God give Seprah a heart of flesh, and give Carson his heart’s desire?
God is known to work in mysterious ways.
10. How can readers connect with you?