12 Days of Christmas with The Literary Lady - Yolanda Johnson-Bryant
Wagfest - Atlanta, GA 10/02/09
Coffee With An Author - 06/21/10
Wanda's Way - March 14, 2010
Author's First airs every Monday and Wednesday, 6 and 9 pm, on http://www.artistfirst.com/ worldwide radio network.
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When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I believe that we all have the gift to be a writer. It is more about what we choose to do with what we write. As a child I loved to make up stories. As a teen I began journaling and continue to do so today. Then one day I decided to write a novel.
Okay, so when did you know you wanted to be an Author?
I decided I wanted to be an Author after attending the 1997 Essence Festival. After leaving one of the forums where Tavis Smiley had just finished speaking, I ventured into the Marketplace, specifically where they were selling books. Of course, I was looking for books by well known authors but on that day the people doing book signings were people I had never heard of before. I ended up buying three books that day, all signed by the authors I had just met. I purchased "The Maintenance Man" by Michael Baisden; "Friends & Lovers" by Eric Jerome Dickey; and "My Soul To Keep" by Tananarive Due. I was so impressed with their enthusiasm. So armed with my new books and the powerful words of Tavis Smiley, I returned home and began to pen my novel.
You mention a statement that Tavis Smiley made. What did he say that inspired you?
He said, "We all have a God given talent but if you don't have the desire to define, develop, and deliver your talent, you will always be in the audience and never on stage."
Those are some good words of wisdom. So, you started writing your book in 1997, what have you been doing since then?
Procrastinating would probably sum it up in one word. I actually finished my manuscript in 1998. I spent about a year searching for an agent and publisher. After the rejection letters began to pile-up I stashed the manuscript into the back of my closet. It has been an on again, off again, relationship ever since. Once I decided to self-publish the more excited I became. And after seeing the finshed product, I knew this was what I was destined to do.
How does a writer create a book that readers will not want to put down?
I believe you have to have characters and a storyline that readers can relate to. In "He Loves Me He Loves Me Not!" I have created a main character that readers will want to follow. They will become invested in her life and want to encourage her along the way. I have also created supporting characters who although they have their own individuality they also compliment the main character and do not disrupt the storyline. Readers will identify with them as well and may even find themselves taking sides.
What is "He Loves Me He Loves Me Not!" about?
It is a story about a young woman who is raised with set expectations for her future but makes decisions in her teens that ultimately affect how her life turns out. She comes from a two-parent home with two siblings who have followed the path that their parents set for them; but Khadejah, that's the main characters name, takes a different path. In her search for love, happiness and stability she goes through four relationships that, on the surface, appear to be very different but each teaches her a valuable lesson that leads her on a journey of self-discovery and helps her understand what true love really means.
Let's talk about the four relationships. There are four men who play an important role in Khadejah's life, can you tell us a little about them?
The book is written in four parts that chronicle her four main relationships. We have Justice, Aaron, Mylan, and J. Jordan. However, there are three other men who play equally important roles in Kahdejah's life and they are her beloved father, her older brother Joshua who will protect her at all cost, and Terrance, who set's the dating wheel in motion. What I love the most about all the male characters is that they show the importance of male figures in a womans life.
Your book deals with several real life issues. How important was it for you in your writing to incorporate certain things into the story.
It wasn't important it just came naturally as I began to write. I think to have a believable story and believable characters you have to place them in situations that actually happen.
Looking back over the experience, what surprises you the most?
Probably that I was able to put my fears aside, finish the book to the point where it has actually been published and is available for sale. And although it was written ten years ago it is still relevant and hasn't lost any of its' luster.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on my second, third, and fourth novel. I just haven't decided which order they will fall in. Seriously, I have so many story ideas in my head that depending on my mood I can pick any one up and just start writing. It is my goal to publish "Love...Like Snow in Florida On a Hot Summer Day," in the Spring of 2009.
Before I let you go, who are some of your favorite writer's?
Wow, let's see. I have so many books by different authors. If I walked into a bookstore today I would start by looking to see if there is anything new by Eric Jerome Dickey, Terry MacMillan, Lolita Files, Tananarive Due, and J. California Cooper. But I am always open to purchasing books by new authors if they have a good synopsis.
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