Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I recently published my first novel, but I have numerous short stories published in a couple of collections.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest novel is My Way to You. I wrote it to show some of the struggles interracial couples face when beginning a relationship and trying to keep it strong.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
One writing habit people may find strange is that when I’m deep in my creative zone, I like to pull my hair into a big hug afro puff. Not one of those cool Angela Davis ones, a mess of coils and coconut oil. I feel like it allows creative energy to flow into my head. It is also a good signal to the husband and kids that mom is deep in her writing and disturbing her would be a hazardous venture.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I read a ton a romance as a teen, exclusively by White women authors. When I got older and someone gave me a Beverly Jenkins novel, my world lit up. It was so liberating to see Black women as the primary love interest and not the sassy best friend, servant, or slave. When authors like Zane and Alyssa Cole came on the scene, that just changed everything.
Their writing gave me the confidence to write romance not simply with Black female protagonists, but with a love plot that reflects the lives of Black women. Romance can be culturally-specific, and there are now a lot of Women of Color authors who are showing the world the myriad of ways people navigate love and romance.
What are you working on now?
My Way to You is the first book in that Brothers in Law romance series. It features six men who befriended each other in law school as they look for love. Each of their stories is a stand-alone, but their interaction with each other remains stable from book to book.
Right now, I’m editing the draft of Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit, the second book. It features Marcus and Toni Kent. Readers have already expressed their interest in knowing their stories after meeting the loving duo in book one.
Marcus and Toni are deeply in love but struggle with infertility. After a couple of failed treatments, Toni wants to try again but Marcus is staunchly against it. The impasse, as well as some other turmoil, threatens to destroy everything they’ve built.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’m new to this, so my results aren’t conclusive yet. I do think the Goodreads community is a strong one where authors have an increased potential of interacting with readers specific to their genre.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I think it’s extremely important for authors to build their audience before publishing. Develop a variety of means to attract and interact with potential readers. Let them hear your voice and get to know you as an author. Once you’ve got their attention, talk about your book and characters in a way that will make them want to know more.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I’ve gotten so much great advice over the years. I think some of the best advice I’ve heard as an author is to never think you can’t improve your writing. Authorship is art, and honing one’s craft is a life-long endeavor. The moment an author thinks their writing is the ultimate, that is probably when it’s at its worse. We are constantly learning and improving.
What are you reading now?
I’m completely jonesing on Black women romance writers. They amaze me with the spectrum of works they’re putting out there, and I’m gleaning how they’re developing unique romance styles that attract readers.
I’m a total Love Journey addict. She’s committed to writing short steamy reads for professional women who don’t necessarily have the time to read 300-400 pages.
I’ve got quite a few titles by British author Talia Hibbert on my Kindle. She combines quippy with raw heat in a way that has you laughing and fanning yourself at the same time.
I just read a great Black love story, Everything is Love, but Aubree Pynn. It’s her first novel, and she does some wonderful storytelling. I can’t wait to read more from her.
What’s next for you as a writer?
My husband jokes that I live at my computer. It isn’t far from the truth. I have numerous writing commitments. I continue to write news stories from a couple of different online platforms. I’m preparing book 2 of the Brothers in Law series as I write short stories for my online Layla Writes Love subscription as well as the upcoming Shades of AMBW Winter Collection and Black Seeds and Honey—A Muslim story collection.
I’m also preparing an essay for a Bloomsbury handbook on Islam and popular culture. Whew!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
I would need a copy of the Quran as well as a compilation of the Prophet Muhammad. I need my soul fed until I die of starvation because I wouldn’t be able to catch a fish and most likely will pick the only poisonous plant life growing there. If I managed to scrape up some food and water, I would want Kindred by Octavia Butler and Indigo by Beverly Jenkins—both cutting-edge novels for their times.