Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
A short time ago, I graduated from Otis College’s Creative Writing program and my first novel was published in November. I freelance write for three local magazines in Los Angeles and I teach writing workshops for teenagers and young adults. Most recently, I taught a one-day writing workshop at the University of Southern California for a youth conference to twenty students. It was powerful.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is called A Love Like Blood. I wanted to write a book dealing with the layers of race, religion, Americanism, and sexuality and how those things can disrupt the father-son relationship. Carsten, the protagonist, his grandfather migrated from Somalia to Chicago to have a better life for his family. In the process, he changed the family’s last name and converted from Islam to Catholicism to be more “American.” Carsten’s father is Somali and his mother is Cuban. I wanted to examine these ideas in a reliable and sympathetic character and see how he would change and force the reader to question influencers. Now, I am just ready to hear back from the readers.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I love to write as soon as I wake up or before I go to bed. I receive some flashes of brilliance at those moments. I have never owned a car, so I take public transportation. Waiting on the train, forces me into uncomfortable situations, like nasty weather and watching fights break out, that helps me to edit with a crueler hand. Some disturbing things that I have witnessed ended up in the book and took my character in a different direction.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
There are so many that it would be impossible to name them all. The shortlist includes: James Baldwin, Staceyann Chin, Toni Morrison, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Michelle Tea, Mark Danielewski, Ethan Canin, E. Lynn Harris, and Yusef Komunyakaa (Facing It changed my life)
What are you working on now?
A Love Like Blood was published in November. I am working on the book tour. I plan on starting on the West Coast and making my way to the East Coast.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
My books are currently available on Amazon, Kindle, and Create Space. However, I am working on getting them in other locations
Do you have any advice for new authors?
My advice to new authors is to read experimental works, reread children’s fairy tales, learn the color wheel, watch Pan’s Labyrinth, and read more than you write.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Change the title of your book to sound more literary. Said by my writing mentor.
What are you reading now?
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I am working on a short story collection. I am read and reread Alice Munro to help me understand the structure and rhythm of short stories. She is a master of the craft.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Dhalgren by Samuel Delaney. Reading Dhalgren showed me what literary writing should be. The book uses a cut up technique with poetry. I try to emulate the poetic nature of Delaney’s works.