IN VIVIAN’S OWN WORDS…I am a Marketing Representative for AT&T. I was born in a small town in Mississippi called Edwards. I attended Tougaloo College before enlisting in the United States Navy. After traveling abroad, I returned to Mississippi to live.
When Love Aint Enough is my first novel, but I have been writing every since I learned to read. Initially my love of writing was formulated through prose. As a child I enjoyed such authors as Langston Hughes, and novelists such as Dostoevsky, Shakespeare and Mark Twain. As I grew into self, my appreciation for insightful literature grew as well, thrusting me into the worlds of Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and Tennessee Williams. Now ground-breaking authors such as E. Lynn Harris, James Baldwin and Sista Soulja lament my brain.
How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?
I’ve been writing since I was 12. I started on the advice of my English teacher to keep a journal.
Give a brief synopsis of your debut novel, When Love Aint Enough.
It’s about a young lady coming to terms with herself and where she belongs in the world. And about the people who helped to form her into the person she finally becomes.
How did you come up with the concept of When Love Aint Enough?
Though this is a work of fiction, the heart felt emotion of unrequited love and learning to love ones self is something of which we all can identify. I wanted to show the world how there’s very little difference between straight or gay relationships when it comes to matters of the heart.
How long did it take you to write When Love Aint Enough, and how has the reception been?
I took over a year to write the book, then another year to get it down to 488 pages. The reception has been excellent. I am very pleased. Since its debut, its been featured in several news papers and a nationally recognized magazine.
Tell us about Casey Banks, the tortured heroine of your novel?
Well, she’s your average buppie. She’s very loving, sincere and naïve to a fault. She believes in fairytales and happy ever afters.
Tell Sistahs the truth: Have you been in Casey’s shoes?
It’s sad to say, but yes I have.
Why was it that Jade could not give herself completely to Casey?
Jade couldn’t see herself being gay. Though she did “gay things” and loved Casey the whole stigma of being gay was too much for her to own up to.
What advice could you give to someone in Casey’s shoes?
Never allow anyone to make you their plan b or second. If love is what you desire and you know how to give it, as well as receive it, then don’t accept anything less than a person who can love you for you.
Do you believe the issues of women on the down-low that Casey dealt with are prevalent in the black lesbian community?
Most certainly, I believe it is because of our heritage, which is deeply rooted in religion (not spirituality, there’s a difference), that’s the biggest taboo of our culture is homosexuality.
Growing up in the South and being in the United States Navy, was it hard for you to come out?
It takes a strong person to be who we are in this community. I thank God my family loves me for who I am and not who they would have me to be. I don’t think growing up in the South was any more difficult than any other place. Prejudice and hate is everywhere. I do feel as a result of enduring the gossip and innuendos of those around me, I have earned the right to love and be loved by the person of my choice.
You plan to make When Love Aint Enough a series. Where do you see Casey’s story going from here?
Actually, When Love Aint Enough is the first book of the series. As the series evolve, so will Casey. She’s learning, slowly, but surely. For now, she’s her own worst enemy.
What are you working on next?
The follow up, Dirty Deeds.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I have an 8-5’er. After that, I enjoy spending quality time with my Shitzu, Maxwell and my niece, Indigo.
What do you do for fun?
I love old movies, traveling and sports.
What are your favorite books? Favorite authors?
My favorite authors are E.Lynn Harris, Terri McMillan, Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself writing fulltime, making my second movie, the first will be When Love Aint Enough. I think it’s about time we saw a genuine portrayal of us on the big screen.
What motivates you to write?
I would guess the same thing that motivates me to breath. It’s a part of who I am as a person.
What piece of advice can you share with aspiring writers?
Pen down every thought, every emotion. Get it on paper, its like painting a picture. Then, share it with the world.
Why do you feel it’s important for black lesbians to share their own stories, as you did with When Love Aint Enough?
Because even in this day of age people still don’t get it. They still think these are primeval feelings, self developed and there’s a choice as to your sexuality. The more they see of the parallels to their own lives and struggles maybe, just maybe it will make it easier for some parent or child coming into an awareness of who they are and realize they are a child of God, and he doesn’t make mistakes.
Interviewed May 2008
Vivian M. Kelly’s Reviews