1. Do you participate in writing challenges on social media? Do you recommend any?
I love blogging on Medium these days. Many publications run regular writing challenges there.
My favorites are the ones organized by the team at Promptly Written, a pub created and run by the talented Ravyne Hawke. David Ellis, my business and writing partner, and I also host the PoArtMo Challenge every month. PoArtMo stands for “Positive Actions Rally Thoughts & Momentum.” It is the motto behind Auroras & Blossoms, the platform we created a few years ago.
A&B is an inclusive and family-friendly platform dedicated to inspiration and upliftment. Every year, we give artists the opportunity to be featured alongside both of us in the PoArtMo Anthology. So far, we have published three volumes, one of which focuses on young creatives between the ages of 13 and 16.
People interested in joining us should visit https://abpositiveart.com.
2. How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
I usually share the news with my supporters on social media. I also do a little tap dance and invite my pets to participate. 😉
3. How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?
By not taking them personally. People have the right not to like my books.
The only thing I care about is constructive feedback. I want to understand reader expectations and what makes my audience tick.
4. How do you use social media as an author?
I use social media to share my stuff and engage with others. I am very active on Twitter, which is my favorite social network.
5. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
If I count the books I have co-edited with David, I am at about 40. I can’t choose a favorite, but I would say that three of my favorites are In Her Own Words, In the Silence of Words, and After the Fires of Day.
- In Her Own Words features eight contemporary stories told from the point of view of women at different stages in their lives.
- My play In the Silence of Words focuses on Cassandra Philip, a 30-year-old woman who uncovers a secret shortly after her mother’s funeral.
- After the Fires of Day is a collection of haiku inspired by the timeless words of authors Kahlil Gibran and Alphonse de Lamartine.
6. If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters?
While crafting the synopsis for In the Silence of Words, I remember asking myself that question. It took me a while to come up with an answer. Here it is.
- Cassandra Philip (main character) – Natalie Portman. One of my favorite actresses! She is at her best portraying conflicted characters, giving them real-life depth. She did that extremely well in V for Vendetta and Black Swan.
- Daniel Philip (Cassandra’s father) – Will Patton. Will may not be a household name, but he has been in many movies, including Remember the Titans. He is a very convincing actor, especially in “man on the street” roles.
- Oliver Auffret (Cassandra’s fiancé) – Armie Hammer. I adored Armie in On the Basis of Sex. There is a gentleness and also empathy about his demeanor that make him the perfect Oliver.
- Amadi Crawford (Cassandra’s best friend) – Janelle Monáe. I saw Janelle in Hidden Figures and Antebellum and found her a force to be reckoned with! When I think of her, I see wit and empathy, two words that sum up Amadi’s character really well.
- Angelica Helori (Cassandra’s aunt and mother’s twin sister) & Myriam Philip-Helori (Cassandra’s mother and Angelica’s twin sister) – Charlize Theron. Charlize is one of the most talented actresses of her generation. I have liked all her movies. Like Hilary Swank, she immerses herself in her characters completely, allowing us to see and sympathize with their flawed, but relatable humanity.
- Celeste Davison (a poet and writer) – Viola Davis. Viola is an extraordinary actress. But what I prefer about her is her voice. When she speaks, you listen. It’s as simple as that.
- Father Gibrerson (a priest who conducts the funeral service) – Ian McKellen. Beyond his great acting skills, Sir Ian has a kind voice, which seems to betray a nurturing personality.
I often have fun imagining how the story would unfold and maybe take a life of its own with the help of those talented artists!
7. What books have you read more than once in your life?
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. I read it at least once a year. It’s my personal Bible.
8. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am not just an author. I am also a photographer, visual artist, the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms, and the (co-)creator of literary forms. So, I am always busy.
9. What do you think makes a good story?
Anybody can write. But very few can write stories that withstand the test of time.
If you want to craft a memorable and impactful story, you must have an intimate knowledge of the language you use. Also, you must be willing to immerse yourself in deep, sometimes challenging emotions and experiences. Finally, you need to make the reader feel as if they were with you.
It’s certainly not easy, but if your goal is to sell books and/or inspire others, you will find a way to learn. 😉
10. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?
“Show, don’t tell.” As a minimalist writer, I have stuck with this advice for my entire career. And it has served me well!