Name: Nikki Rashan
Current Residence: Milwaukee, WI Birth Place: Milwaukee, WI
PRIDEINDEX: When were you first published? Under what circumstances?
RASHAN:My First two books, Double Pleasure Double Pain and You Make Me Wanna, were originally “self published” through iUniverse, a publishing on demand company, in 2003 and 2005. In 2006 I connected with author and literary agent, Joylynn Jossel, and from there I contracted with Urban Books under Kensington Publishing.
PRIDEINDEX: What is your earliest memory of being a writer?
RASHAN: Around the age of nine is when I began to keep a journal. Of course I referred to it as my diary back then. There I recorded all of my little girl thoughts and feelings about school and friends and even then it was fascinating to go back and read all that I documented. It was about 7th and 8th grade when I wrote my first short stories. For my age, I’ll admit, they were a bit risque’. much of what I wrote about leaned toward teenage desires and first love experiences. Those stories I shared with my closest friends and I do believe the writings were a prelude of what was to come.
PRIDEINDEX: Describe your current or most recent project and tell us about any notable challenges you encountered.
RASHAN: The greatest challenge I faced with this story was last summer, just a few days before my birthday, the manuscript was lost. The documents on my laptop had been destroyed and my only back up, my flash drive, was lost. I can barely put into words how devastated I felt because I had put so much time and energy into writing the story and in addition, it was due to the publisher in just a few weeks. The night of my birthday I spent time alone at the lake, which is my favorite place to visit, and I prayed with everything in me for understanding and I surrendered to the experience. The very next day I was walking across my lawn and happened to look down. There, in the grass was my flash drive. I had my manuscript back. It was truly a miracle.
PRIDEINDEX: How do you identify and nurture ideas for new projects?
RASHAN: Most of my writing tends to be loosely connected to my reality. For example, I originally wrote Double Pleasure, Double Pain in 2001, which was a year after I came out to my family. Though the story isn’t mine, my feelings resonate closely with the main character. The same is true with Cyber Case. I was fairly late jumping onto the social networking bandwagon. Once I did and realized its magnitude and the significant role it plays in our day to day lives, the idea of writing a book about it became more and more intriguing. I try to write what I know first and foremost, and what is also relevant to readers that will keep them engaged.
PRIDEINDEX: Please describe 1-3 authors/writers/performers that have influenced your artistic style.
RASHAN: I’ve read many fiction books from a variety of genres and authors; however, my greatest influence by far is E. Lynn Harris. I’ve always enjoyed the ease in his writing style and conversational approach to his storytelling. His earliest works were so honest and real and I could only imagine to what depth his characters resonated with his readers.
PRIDEINDEX: What 2 books and 2 CDs should everyone own?
RASHAN: Two CDs that everyone should own: A Donny Hathaway Collection and The Blue Print by Jay-Z. Donny Hathaway because that CD will carry a listener through a range of emotions; heartache in Giving Up, love in The Closer I Get To You, and inspiration in Someday We’ll All Be Free. The Blue Print simply because it’s one of the greatest hip hop albums ever made.
In the Meantime by Iyanla Vanzant is a must. This is one of the best self-help books people can read to help understand themselves and how to overcome behavior patterns that aren’t conducive to positive growth and successful relationships.
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen is a book I keep handy and have read many times. It’s a fascinating little read about the power of the mind and serves as a reminder to monitor and guide our thoughts toward good.
PRIDEINDEX: Do you believe African American authors have an obligation to the African American community? Why or why not?
RASHAN: To a certain extent, yes. Authors have the opportunity to uplift and energize our community and what better way than through books! It not only promotes reading, but also has the opportunity to shed light to truths and extinguish stereotypes within the community. At the same time, writing, like any creative craft, is individual and subjective. An author should have the freedom to write their truth – or perceptions even – regardless of what they might be or if the African American community warms to it.
PRIDEINDEX: What is the biggest misconception about you and/or your work?
RASHAN: This one here is easy! The greatest misconception about me is that I’m not really a lesbian. It confuses me when people still question that. I’m not necessarily certain how it would benefit me to pretend to be gay. Why would I subject my family and particularly my daughters to such inquiries about me if it were not the case? I think the skepticism surfaced in the past because I tended to be very private about what I did, who I did it with, and the fact that I was often single. Now I am finally in a very open and thriving relationship which I hope puts some of the rumors to rest. And if not, I’m so not worried about it.
PRIDEINDEX: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
RASHAN: My advice is simple and fairly cliche’. I would suggest that aspiring writers not give up on their dream of becoming a published author. When I first considered publishing Double Pleasure, Double Pain, I had no idea about the process and work involved. I quickly learned just how many writers there are in this world and that it is much more involved than just writing a query letter, getting published, and making the best sellers list. No matter how many be received or how dim the outlook may appear, a writer shouldn’t give up on his or her story.
“Ascend: A Literary Arts & Jazz Series” will present Cyber Case’s Official Chicago release on Saturday August 15, at the One Six One 1251 W. Taylor in Chicago from 4:00-9:00 PM visit www.ascendLitjazz.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets. To view “Ascend” video click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9pV8GAaF1I
For additional information visit www.Nikkirashan.com