Where are you from?
I am originally from Chicago but I moved to Michigan at the age of 8 and I’ve been here ever since.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I began writing in elementary school. The school district held a yearly scholastic writing contest and I would win in my level every year through high school. I’ve just always loved reading so that naturally lead to me wanting to craft my own stories.
Do you write full-time or part-time? How do you balance your writing life with your family/work life?
I work full time so I have to make time to write. I keep my ipad and keyboard in my bag so I can sneak writing time in throughout the day, but the weekends are when I get the most accomplished. Luckily, my kids are no longer babies – my youngest is 15 so not only do I NOT have to rush home to take care of him, he’s quite helpful to me in my writing. I bounce ideas off of him, he texts me throughout the day with ideas, and he even test reads a lot of the things I write – for content, not correctness – and gives me his opinion. We have some pretty lively debates about the authenticity of my characters. When I’m writing about a teenage, he lets me know if the character sounds or behaves the way they would in real life.
How did you come up with the title?
My original plan was to write a series of multiple titles around the theme of what we call “pulpit pimps”. The Pulpit Chronicles refers to those stories, and Prey for Me is the first of the series. I felt like Prey for Me was a rather clever twist on the word Pray, in that the minister is also the child predator. I have two other books planned for the Pulpit Chronicles starring some other psycho leaders, all based on true stories!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s not necessarily a message but I do hope it serves as a cautionary tale for people to be more attentive and observant when it comes to protecting your family.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not in my life, but the story itself is based on bits and pieces of real life stories in the news.
What books have most influenced your life most?
If you mean influence in the sense that they have stuck with me and I can’t get them out of my soul, I can pick a couple out of several. Left to Tell, the story of a Rwandan genocide survivor who spent 90 days hiding in a tiny bathroom with seven other women; hiding from and listening to the horrific massacre going on right outside the bathroom window. I can’t imagine the strength it took for her not to go crazy and then go on and share her story with the world. Another lifelong favorite is In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women, by Alice Walker. I was never that crazy about The Color Purple in book form, although I loved the movie. But this is my favorite Alice Walker book. This collection of short stories about fictional black women from different backgrounds is her best work, in my opinion. The stories are so incredibly emotional that they will appeal to any woman regardless of color.
What book are you reading now?
I have so many books in my queue that I am trying to make time to read! I don’t want to name any because I don’t want people thinking, “she said she was going to read MY book next!” But I purchase books nearly every day because I want to support my fellow authors and I have every intention of reading each and every one of them. I’m looking forward to my summer vacation because I’m going to bring my Kindle and lay on the beach and read – and write. It’s more difficult as a writer to make time to read because you’re always writing, or about to write, or editing or promoting! But I made a vow to start making time to read at least 1-2 books every week just to show support because I would want people to do the same for me.
What are your current projects?
I’m working on an anthology of horror stories and an urban zombie apocalypse tale set in Detroit, both to be released over the next few months. I’m working on some exciting promotional tie-in materials for the launch of the zombie novel so that one has me really busy and anxious right now!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I’m really happy with the way it turned out, and the feedback has been tremendous so I’m satisfied with it. As writers, you know we are never totally content with our books but at some point you do have to let the characters go and see how people respond to them. It wouldn’t be genuine if I changed them to suit the reaction they received.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’ve included sneak peeks in both of my titles currently available. In A Good Wife, there’s a sneak peek of my story, Getting to Day, which is a crime thriller. A miserable, unambitious man and his girlfriend, Day, are setting up his friends to be robbed and of course, Day is being used as the bait, hence the title. In Prey for Me Too, there is a sneak of Baby Mine, one of the short horror stories from my upcoming anthology, Daymares. Baby Mine is the story of a woman who – in a moment of weakness – has a one night stand with an ex-boyfriend that she absolutely despises because of the way he abused her. Then she ends up with something that she can’t get rid of. This story was fun to write because I think about my grandmother always telling the girls in the family to be careful who they lay with because they will have a piece of that person inside of their body forever. That’s the premise behind Baby Mine.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I have to make myself stop developing the characters because that turns into overwriting. I like to make them as real as possible. For me, its not about the designer clothes they are wearing or what type of expensive hair they have installed – I like to tell about their feelings, their quirks, their addictions, how they feel about the people around them. And I have to be careful and rein it back in because I’m enjoying creating the character so much.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have many so its really hard to select just one, but I’ll tell you my current favorite is Gillian Flynn. When I read her writing, there’s such a rhythm to her selection of words and I love the way the characters speak so wryly and sarcastically, yet poetically. For instance, in Gone Girl, the opening paragraph where Nick talks about his wife and how the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks about her is the shape of her head. He describes it like a hard corn kernel and then drops that line about imagining the skull. That very short sentence was full of innuendoes, especially considering the subject matter. You’re wondering – does he love her? Or does he hate her? Who thinks about the skull of someone they love? I seriously TINGLED when I read that opening paragraph. So yeah, right now, she’s my newest favorite, but I’m sure there will be more soon. I couldn’t possibly pick just one because everyone is so different and I don’t like just one type of story.
Who designed the covers?
The covers for the Prey for Me set were designed by Cover Me Designs. I did my own cover for A Good Wife.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Since the theme of Prey for Me is about a child predator, it was hard for me to approach the subject matter delicately but still make the impact that was needed to tell the story. I had one reader tell me that she actually wanted more description of the particular assaults and that was difficult for me. I didn’t want to push anyone’s buttons but I also didn’t want to deliver a lot of gratuitous rape scenes. So I took the softshoe approach and as with anything else, you’ll have people who like it and appreciate it, and then you’ll have people who don’t have to close their eyes at the gore and they want more!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you love; write what you know, and write it well. Don’t get hung up on numbers and how many books the next writer is putting out – focus on doing good work and your reputation for quality will mean far more than your spot on any chart.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for choosing me. You have a lot of choices of books to read and I really appreciate you picking mine! And if it doesn’t live up to your expectations, I’d really like to know why because I realize that, as a writer, I can always grow and learn. So your feedback is really important! Not to mention that it really excites me when people email or inbox me to tell me how much they enjoyed my books or how the story moved them, and they’re bubbling over with words about one of the characters. That kind of stuff really makes my day! So again – thank you. And if you haven’t tried my books yet – what are you waiting for? J
What do you think about e-publishing versus technical publishing?
Well, I love the fact that epublishing allows everyone the ability to publish their stories; and then I hate the fact that epublishing allows everyone the ability publish, lol. But overall, it’s a great opportunity that you can use to your advantage if you respect the craft and you’re really serious about producing great work. Traditional publishing has always been such a narrow and exclusive club that many great writers still could not crack into because of the cost and the culture. Epublishing levels the playing field but we need to respect it and protect it and make sure its not tainted by people just putting out junk and calling it literature. The problem is – my definition of junk may be someone else’s definition of a masterpiece; and they have the right to like what they like, just as I do.
Do you have an agent or publisher? How did you go about finding one?
I no longer have a publisher. I am now happily self-published. It’s a lot of work but at least now I’m in control and I KNOW what I’m doing at all times. When I ask myself a question – I get a straight answer, lol. But if someone desires to work with a publisher, there should be no difficulty finding one because there are literally hundreds of them out there and more popping up daily. Just do your research THOROUGHLY. Just because you don’t find anything doesn’t mean nothing exists, it might mean you just haven’t looked in the right places. And please, please, please have a lawyer look over your contract before you sign. At the very least, post the contract in a writer’s forum (with identifying information redacted) and have the pros rip it apart, you might be surprised at what you discover.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I’m actually pretty happy where I am. I could say that I wanted to live in some beautiful hot-all-the-time country with a blue ocean out my back door – but I kinda like the unpredictability of the city and our crazy weather. I think I would get bored with the same thing every day, day in and day out. I like a little snow, a little rain, a little sun. Thing is, when its nice, you appreciate it more because you know it won’t last forever. As long as I can afford to vacation to a beautiful place then I’m fine coming home again.