I live in Maryland with my husband and two children. I have a M.A. in Political Science, using my degree to go into education as a teacher. I taught high for many years, eventually becoming chair of the Social Studies Department. Currently, I am a professional development specialist with a local Maryland school system, working on increasing student achievement through teacher and administrator self-efficacy. I’m also pursuing my doctorate in education in Community College Leadership.
A desire to see more novels with positive, sexy, and three-dimensional African American characters as soul mates, friends, and lovers, inspired me to take on the challenge of penning such romantic reads. I like to read historical and paranormal romance novels, as well as comics and manga with action and heart. With a two-hour daily work commute, I’ve found audiobooks to be a great friend. I’ve “read” some of my favorite books while on the road.
Tell us about your latest book.
My most recent book is “Of Fear and Faith.” It’s a paranormal romance novel with shape-shifters and elemental witches. The book is the first novel in my Death and Destiny Trilogy. The blurb for the trilogy is: Every five hundred years, a fire witch and a water witch are born, destined to wage battle in the name of Mami Wata, goddess of water, and Oya, goddess of wind, fire, and lightning. Sanura is that fire witch, Assefa her were-cat familiar. They are unwilling pawns in the life and death chess game between the goddesses, but are unable to prevent what is to come – the Day of Serpents.
What do you have coming out in the future?
I just finished writing “Of Beasts and Bonds.” It’s the second installment in my Death and Destiny Trilogy. I’m going through the editing process now, making sure, in part, that I haven’t contradicted myself from book one to book two. Which, yes, I’ve found places where I definitely did not align the works as smoothly as I should have. As of now, my working back cover blurb for the new book is: Mami Wata and Oya are now free from their watery prison and ready to wage a battle five hundred years in the making. Special Agent Assefa Berber and Dr. Sanura Williams are the prophesized Cat and Fire Witch of Legend. To save the world from Mami Wata, a water goddess with a bloody thirst for power and an insatiable appetite for death and destruction, they must defeat her beasts and the Water Witch of Legend.
Assefa and Sanura are fully in love but possess only a partial mate bond. While Sanura has merged their auras, bonding Assefa’s cat spirit to her, she has yet to accept his claiming bite. Their incomplete mate bond and their new relationship are tested when Mami Wata sets her malevolent eyes on them, manipulating beasts, sacrificing humans, and creating heartache. Can their bond survive, or will they drown under the vicious tide of godly might?
In a world of mystery and magic, sometimes old bonds must be broken before new ones can be formed. Who knew that finding one’s soul mate would test bonds and unleash beasts?
Is your book a stand-alone or a series?
“Of Fear and Faith” is part of the Death and Destiny Trilogy.
Why romance and what makes your particular brand of romance special?
Honestly, I used to never read fiction, no less romance books of any genre. But a few years ago I heard Marvel was going to have Storm and Black Panther marry – an unprecedented move by the comic book company. As an African American woman and fan of X-Men’s Storm, I was intrigued enough to buy all the comics leading up to their marriage. Well, from there, I fell in love with comics with romantic relationships, especially those with African or African American characters. I’m such a nerdy fangirl that I even included a silly line or two about Storm and Black Panther in my upcoming book and made a secondary character a comic book fan.
When Marvel dissolved the marriage between Storm and Black Panther, I was so disappointed. Worse, there was no comparable comic I could turn to to get that particular enjoyment fix. That’s why fanfiction is so popular. I truly get why fans turn to writing fanfiction. For some, they want to have a certain level of power over their favorite characters, writing what they would like to see in the actual comic, book, movie, or television show.
So, for me, what makes my brand of romance special is that I write what I see as a dearth in the paranormal romance genre - African/African American love with a paranormal twist. I spend a lot of time developing the mythology of my stories, as well as the execution of the paranormal element. If I write a book with witches and shape-shifters, I think it’s important to actually show what it means to be a witch and shape-shifter. That’s one thing a reader of my books can look forward to. The paranormal is not a sidebar in my novels. It’s center stage and critical to the plot.
Is romance the only genre that you write in or do you write in other genres? If so what other genres do you write in?
As I mentioned, I write paranormal romance. I love the sexiness of a straight forward romance, but I also like a book to have a plot beyond the main couple meeting and eventually falling in love. Integrating paranormal aspects into my novels gives me a little more to work with. It forces me to be creative in a different way.
In a world where all is not as it seems, Sanura and Assefa must battle the gods' first creations - vile predators who threaten the safety of humans. Each confrontation, each bloody clash, will bring Sanura and Assefa closer to fulfilling the prophecy of being the Fire Witch and Cat of Legend - the ones who will save humanity from the Water Witch of Legend. Death, godly magic, and physical attraction draw Sanura and Assefa to each other, but fear and faith will determine their destiny.
Some character or physical traits are based on real people in my life. More often than not though, I use the names of family of friends for many of my characters. In fact, the hero in my Death and Destiny Trilogy is named after my son. And I gave the hero a twin sister, naming the character after my daughter. I do that a lot, if the name works for the character I’ve developed.
What authors inspire your writing?
I’ve learned a lot from reading and enjoying books by Cynthia Eden, Mary Balogh, Lisa Kleypas, Nalini Singh, Jeannine Frost, and Kelley Armstrong. They are different types of writers, crafting romantic stories in intriguing and engaging ways. Whether paranormal, suspense, contemporary, or historical, each romantic tale by one of these writers is, in a way, inspirational to a new and struggling author.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When not writing, I like to watch movies, go to the theatre, and play video games. I also enjoy our family movie nights, which are great.
What was your road to publishing like? Tell us about it.
Difficult. It still is. Very few publishing companies accept unsolicited and unagented manuscripts. I sent query letters out to many ebook publishing companies. And I was turned down more times than is good for any writer’s self-esteem. But perseverance is the name of the game, as well as simply perfecting your craft. After every rejection, along with a bit of sulking, I would edit and try again. Edit and try again. Edit and try again. Yeah, you get the picture. It’s a cycle, some may call it a vicious cycle of writing and rejection.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
I’m big on themes. So when I’m pondering the title of a book, I start with the major theme(s) of the story. From there, it’s pretty easy for me to come up with an appropriate and telling title.
Do you read romance or do you prefer other genres?
I do read romance novels. Actually, I listen to more audiobooks. But they’re all romance. I read a lot of scholarly works, being in a doctoral program, so getting a chance to read or listen to a nice romantic suspense or paranormal romance novel is a great treat for me.
Serwa knows the pain of loss, the burn of fire, the heat of love. She is a Healer Angel, bound to help, to heal, to protect. And the person she wants most to heal is Issa, her husband, her soul mate, her warrior. But what is a woman to do when a husband's guilt and fury challenge the very foundation of their marriage?
At heart, I’m a student of Political Science and Black Studies. I have degrees in both subjects. Thus, I read and have read tons of non-fiction books on American Government and African American history. When I was a teacher, I taught American Government and African American History to African American students who knew far too little about both subjects. Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro and Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X are two of my favorite books
What celebrity would you chose to play the main character(s) in the movie rendition of your book?
Such a great question. And wouldn’t it be great if someone, maybe Spike Lee, wanted to have my book made into a movie? Okay, a girl can dream. And while I’m dreaming, Oprah Winfrey’s network would be a great place for my book turned television movie. Anyway, who would I chose for my hero, Assefa Berber? David Oyelowo or Lance Gross. For my heroine, Sanura Williams, it would be Adepero Oduye.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
The hardest part of the writing process is the temptation to rush or shortchange a scene because I’m feeling tired or being lazy. Certain scenes, love and action scenes, for example, take a lot out of me. I know they must be written well, hitting all the emotions I’m going for and hope the reader will feel when they read the scene. For me, that takes so much more effort than writing any kind of dialogue heavy scene. I’m slow, when it comes to love and action scenes. But they are my favorite and, when done properly, turn out to be among my favorite in the book. Grit is necessary when I don’t feel like giving each scene my all.
How would you describe your writing style?
I’m a linear thinker, so I write the same way. I don’t skip a scene I don’t feel like writing and come back to it later. I write in the order in which each scene takes place. In fact, I think in terms of sections of chapters. Because I’m a detailed person, taking a chapter section by section, I’m able to manage my writing and my sanity. I set short writing goals for myself. If I finish a section, then I’m happy because I accomplished my goal. If I view my novel from a big picture perspective mainly, then I’m more focused on how much is left to write instead of how much I’ve already written.
Do you have a careful plan when plotting your stories or do you just go with the flow?
I can neither imagine planning an entire work in advance, nor can I envision writing without a basic outline. I always begin with a big idea or a major plot point I want to explore. The characters come soon afterward. Normally, I know how I want the story to end and several key moments I want to include. Everything else develops as I progress through. the story.
What is your favorite quote?
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” Octavia Butler
This is a great inspirational quote from Ms. Butler, especially for a new writer. And it is so darn true. Persistence, while necessary, is not easy, which Octavia Butler well understood. Which made her so great at her craft.
In a world where fear often trumps trust, his secret just might tear them apart. Or perhaps it will be Zora's divine fate that will doom them to hopelessness. Whoever said love at first sight means forever? Certainly not the demon assassin sent to destroy one by murdering the other. Note: This book contains adult language used as profanity.