IN ERICKA’S OWN WORDS…“The devil made one mistake with me, he left me for HALF dead and my Heavenly Father breathed life back into me to revive my spirit.” At the prime age of 27, I have been blessed with a second chance to live my life to the fullest. I am a native of Norfolk, VA but now reside in Middle GA where I am heavily in pursuit of establishing myself as a world-renowned author. My goals are to continue my success in my writings and to start my own business centering around the youth. Outside of work, I am a very laid back happy-go-lucky type of person. I am always telling a joke or making people laugh because laughter brings joy to the soul and a smile is one of the most beautiful works, read the interview below and e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How long have you been writing and how did you get started?
I have been writing since grammar school and I started off by writing poems and short stories to escape the everyday worries of the world. I remember pretending I was a sports journalist and writing about the basketball games I played when I was younger. I even interviewed some of my friends (teammates) for fun to make my stories seem more real. To be honest though, writing runs through the bloodlines in my family. My grandmother (my mom’s mother) was a columnist for the daily newspaper in Belvedere, NC for over 10 years. I believe I inherited my love for writing from her.
Give a brief synopsis of your book, In Fear of Losing You.
Have you ever wanted to love so bad that you pushed it on everyone you met or vice versa, wanting not to love so bad that you walked away from it before you could ever get caught up in it? Well in my second novel, In Fear of Losing You, I introduce two main characters whose everyday lives revolves around these very questions.
How long did it take you to write In Fear of Losing You, and how has the reception been so far?
It took me less than a year, about eight months to write In Fear of Losing You and everyone seems to like the book very much. I think the fact that the readers can relate to the main characters and the issues they are going through has attributed to the positive response.
Tell us about the main characters, Katrina “Kat” Stanton and Kelly “Sweet” Owens.
Both women are two strong independent young entrepreneurs who struggle with the one thing that every woman fears, love. Kat Stanton is a woman of control and when it comes to love, she wants to have control over that too to avoid being hurt. Kat keeps her relationships strictly sexual and does not spend time with a woman longer than six weeks to maintain her control within the relationship and to avoid the emotional attachment. Sweets Owens is one of those women who has lost a love by not nurturing that love so she’s determined to make up for her mistake by loving every woman she meets. The need to love someone becomes more important than love itself so Sweets forces love instead of just letting love happen which leads to her being heartbroken on more than one occasion.
Where did you get the ideas for the characters?
Kat and Sweets are women from everyday walks of life. Whether they are gay or straight, Kat and Sweets are a combination of women I see, talk to, and work with everyday. With these characters I wanted to show that even the strongest women we know have weaknesses in the most common area of life like love.
Were any of the characters based on your own experiences?
Yes and no. The characters themselves are no one person in particular but the issues they went through and the events that surrounded them, some of that was pulled from real life experiences of my own or that of friends.
Which character, whether Kat or Sweets, is most like you?
That’s the question everyone keeps asking me (smile). If you talk to people who know me, they will say I’m most like Sweets but honestly, I’ve had a little of both Kat and Sweets in me. I have been hurt a lot in love (and not just relationships) by people taking advantage of my good heart and generosity so I built a wall around my heart like Kat did to keep away the pain but not realizing I was keeping out the greatness of love also. So I became like Sweets in wanting to feel loved so much that I left myself vulnerable to everyone I met. As I have gotten older though, I’ve grown wiser in how to express my love without losing my whole self in the process. It still happens but now it doesn’t happen as often. I’m still learning like the rest of us.
Do you think insecurities about love are typical in today’s lesbian relationships? Why or why not?
Insecurities about love in relationships period are typical but I believe it is more noticeable and recognizable in lesbian relationships because of society’s view of same gender relationships. Not only do lesbians have to worry about whether the person they love loves them back but we also worry about what we might lose if we show and express that love to one another. Disownment from family, ridicule from friends and co-workers, branded from the church, and rejected by Black America all play a part in lesbians, especially black lesbians holding back and not wanting to fall in love with another.
I liked the fact that both Kat and Sweets were ambitious young women who were successful entrepreneurs. Does that apply to your life as well?
I hope so. I’m working with my brother and my best friend to open a youth center in our community in Hampton Roads Virginia. Along with sport programs, we want to offer more multicultural and liberal arts activities to bring to light other skills and talents that children can excel in.
You’ve also written a previous novel called I Am Your Sister. What’s that book about?
I Am Your Sister is about Symone Holmes, an 18-year-old high school graduate about to embark on a new life venture as a college freshman. Being a gifted athlete, one would think her transition would be smoother than most. However, when it is revealed that she is a lesbian in college, the path she had chosen to walk becomes littered with obstacles she had not anticipated. To help her overcome to be seen as an individual and not a label, Symone turns to her faith to guide her in allowing all to see that love, in any form, is love. This novel also touches on the fractured relationship between Symone and
her mother and how her loss of an old love gives way to her finding her true love.
An excerpt of I am Your Sister can be found at www.xlibris.com/Iamyoursister.
Your bio states that you have spent time in the military. Has being in the military affected the way you look at the world or your sexuality?
From being in the military, I have gained discipline and I have found my voice to speak on issues that affect me, my family, my people, and our future. Before, I did not care about who was president or in the Senate or House or mayor and governor of my own state because it didn’t seem important to me
because I didn’t think it pertained to me. After being in the military, I now understand the importance of voting and fighting for a cause you believe in. I now understand why it is important for us to make our voices heard for if we do not speak up for ourselves then how can we expect others to do it on our behalf.
What are you working on next?
Right now, I am concentrating on two books, both tying into each other. The first is the sequel to In Fear of Losing You. Now that everyone has found their true love, what’s next? The sequel (I don’t have a title yet) will talk about the issues that are outside the relationship but can threaten the love just the same. From religion to the military to fighting for civil rights for same sex couples, the sequel will make you address the topics we have avoided talking about out loud. The second book will be my journal to America. It will be called 3 Strikes and it will elaborate on the topics I bring to life in the sequel. 3 Strikes will be my opinion of the subject matter and the sequel will give the examples on why I feel that way. I hope to have both books out in circulation to the public by the end of this year.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me actually starts at 10 p.m. (I work the midnight shift on base). When I get off work in the morning, I either go to the gym to workout or I go straight home. I eat breakfast, read my Bible and if I have no daily errands to run, I catch a few hours of sleep (usually until 1 or 2 p.m). If it is a nice day out, I go to the park with my lunch and work on my next project(s) and if it is raining or too cold out, I promote my book online and print up letters to send snail mail to market my book. In the evenings of my workweek, I watch sport games or a favorite TV show before getting ready to go back to work that night. On my days off, I try to spend time with my godchild and her sisters (ages 15-17) or hang out with friends.
What do you do for fun?
Anything that is sports related. I love basketball, especially college. Right now, most of my time is spent in front of the television due to March Madness. I also enjoy going to high school, college, and pro games. I go to the movies if there is something good out or I go to sports bars to shoot a little pool and hang out with friends.
What are your favorite books? Favorite authors?
My favorite book is Maximize the Moment by T.D. Jakes. I have read it twice now, and it is a very good guide in how to live your life to the fullest and how to get the fullness out of your life–and it’s not all related to religion either. A lot of it is just common-sense practices and I think everyone should read it or read books that strengthen the mind, body and spirit. My favorite authors are E. Lynn Harris and John Grisham. When I first started writing books my goal was and still is to keep writing stories that keep my readers captivated in the storyline like these two authors do.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Wow, 10 years? Well, I hope to have a chain of youth centers running successfully up and down the east coast and having a few books on the best sellers list (smile). I plan to use my blessings to help bless others by starting different organizations and foundations that will give back to the community to provide the youth with more options to succeed.
What motivates you to write?
Personal experiences of my own and those around me. I write because there are not enough books about us, black lesbians that we can relate to. When you are a young teenager trying to understand what it is you are feeling, it’s hard when you have no one to help you, no one to talk to. I write to let
them know they are not alone. I write to give them hope.
What piece of advice can you share with aspiring writers?
Tell your story. Everyone feels that there is something that they are going through that no one can relate to. If you tell your story, it may help someone who feels all alone in this world. Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. Write everyday and tell your story.
Why do you feel it’s important for black lesbians to tell their own stories, like you did with In Fear of Losing You?
It may seem like I’m repeating myself here but the important things are worth repeating. We need to tell our own stories to help each other survive. I would’ve never believed that someone in Wisconsin could read my book and say, “Man, reading your book was like reading a book about my life.” We have so much in common when it comes to the struggles we have to fight against and if we see that someone else has overcome that same obstacle we are going through right now, we will believe that we can overcome it too. We must tell our own stories to help each other become more than conquerors in a society that is dead set against accepting us for who we are and who we love.
Interviewed March-April 2006
Ericka K.F. Simpson’s Reviews