IN SKYY’S OWN WORDS…I really suck at writing bio’s about myself. Skyy is a nerd. I’m a 25-year-old lesbian woman from Memphis, TN. I’m an old movie and musical lover. I’m single (just thought I would throw that out there).
How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?
I have always written personal stores but never shared them. I started this professionally one day when I sat at my computer and just began to write.
Give a brief synopsis of your debut novel, Choices.
Four college women encounter many choices involving love, lust and drama during a year at college. Lena is rich, beautiful and practically engaged to the school’s superstar basketball player Brandon. She unknowingly begins to develop feelings for her roommate, the star of the women’s basketball team.
After having her heart broken, Denise has decided to swear off women to focus on basketball, graduating and getting out of Memphis. Her plans quickly change when the perfect woman for her walks into her life. The problem is that the perfect woman is her straight roommate, Lena.
Cooley believes in the love them and leave them way of life. When she finally decides to hang up her player robe, the women of her past refuse to go out without a fight.
Carmen has undergone a massive physical transformation. She quickly learns that surgery can only change the physical, not her self-esteem.
How did the concept of Choices come about?
I was heartbroken. I had been dumped and didn’t want to leave the house. The character of Denise popped in my head, a girl who just wants to get away from Memphis. I sat at my computer, turned on an mp3 playlist of songs and began to write. At the end of the weekend I had finished the first draft of choices.
How has the reception of Choices been?
I am so blessed to have received such great praises of the book. I love hearing from readers who love the book and are pressuring me to release the sequel.
Best friends Denise, Carmen and Cooley were range true in their portrayal of young black lesbians. Where did you get the idea for the characters?
The characters were made up but I just think about the relationships that I have with my friends. We are all intelligent young women who are trying to make something of ourselves. At the same time our friendships are strong. I wanted to make Carmen out to show that studs and femmes can be friends and not be sleeping with each other. I wanted to show that even though Cooley is very whorish, she is a friend that anyone should be proud to have. I wanted to give a realistic look into the lives of black lesbian women my age.
Which character, if any, do you think is most like you?
A little bit of all of them are like me. I just want to succeed like Denise. Like most women I have made bad mistakes when it comes to women like Carmen. I have been so blind before that I didn’t see what was right in front of me like Lena. I am very blunt like Cooley and I love my friends like they were my real family like all of the characters.
Reading Choices took me back to my undergrad days, and I enjoyed the experiences of the four characters at a HBCU (Historically Black College or University). What, if anything, did you draw from your own schooling to write Choices?
Before I came out I had a friend who I had been my best friend since the 6th grade who pledged a sorority. One day while kicking it with her and some of her sorors, she and they both discussed how they would never in life let a lesbian in their organization. That hit me hard because I knew I was struggling with my sexuality and yet now I knew my own best friend and the sorority I had wanted to be in since I was a child wouldn’t accept me. I know of others who have had similar experiences, studs who were told they would have to change how they look in order to join a sorority. I used that while making the Chi Theta storyline.
I used the feeling of me seeing a group of lesbians hanging out, wanting to go over and talk but being too scared to do so. Even though it was a make-believe school, I wanted to give it a true feeling with the dorms and student union.
How realistic do you think your characters are as related to the black college experience?
I believe I was very on point with the black college experience. I attend basketball games and a local HBCU in town and I see more lesbians than other people. We are now able to be out and proud and not have to hide who we are just because we are on campus. But at the same time there are still issues with the Divine Nine organizations acceptance of the GLBT community and how some may view us. Many could end up with a roommate that doesn’t like gay people like Carmen did.
Denise and her roommate Lena seem like a perfect match. Will they or won’t they?
Ahh, that’s the question everyone asks me. I have been cursed out and threatened about Dee and Lena. Everyone wants them to hook up; they are perfect for each other. But you will have to wait till the sequel to find out.
Bed-hopping Cooley is a trip. What has been the reaction to her stud-like character?
Cooley is by far the stand-out character. I have had so many studs to think that I was writing about them. I had a few to say that they are Cooley or they used to be Cooley. I find it funny.
Why do you think Carmen struggled so much with love and her self-image?
I think Carmen is like a lot of women. We always want to say things like, “I’m too fat” or “I don’t like my butt,” but many don’t take the time to think about all the wonderful things about us. This is for straight and gay women alike. Sometimes we don’t love ourselves so we let others treat us like crap. We mistake love a lot for lust or just the longing for love. Some women want it so bad they are willing to take abuse, both physically and mentally, just because someone tells them that they love them.
Choices is a refreshing change from the typical storylines we see in black lesbian books. Was that what you wanted to accomplish?
Yes it was. I wanted to not only be different from most lesbian books but from most AA (African American) books in general. I wanted to give a unique but very realistic look into the life that I am apart of. So many always focus on the negative aspects of the community, I wanted to show that yes some are negative (Cooley, Tameka), but what about the positive (Denise, Nic). I also wanted to give a realistic look into the world of aggressive/stud women.
What are you working on next?
I have finished the sequel to Choices and I’m now working on a book of short stories.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I wake up, turn on my TV to watch Ellen. I then get online and began to check my various emails and pages like MySpace, Downelink, ourchart. Then I promote the book for a while. Talk to my friends, write, and that’s about it. I have no life.
What do you do for fun?
I really like being at home. I love to watch movies so I do that a lot. I try to see any Broadway musicals that come to town. I go out with my friends and that’s about it. I’m truly square.
What are your favorite books? Favorite authors?
I love, love, love Michael Baisden. His book, God’s Gift to Women was the first book I read that I could not put down. That’s how I wanted Choices to be. I also love E. Lynn Harris, Eric Jerome Dickey, and I must say I am a Harry Potter fanatic.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully writing full time and producing movies or a series based on Choices. I would love to see my book become a movie or series like The L Word.
What motivates you to write?
Just my emotions, I’m a cancer and I’m very emotional. So when I’m going through something or witness something it can bring it out of me.
What piece of advice can you share with aspiring writers?
This may sound corny but don’t give up. Polish your work to your best abilities. Have someone you love and trust to read your work, someone who will be brutally honest with you. Network and make sure to read over your contracts. Oh, and protect your work.
Why do you feel it’s important for black lesbians to share their own stories, as you did with Choices?
I think that black lesbians to share their stories however they can as long as they share it. It could be with poetry, writing books, music, blogging I don’t care just do it.
Interviewed February 2008