Name, gender and birthplace:
Shonia L. Brown, Female, Atlanta, GA
Current or most recent project:
I’m currently working on my company’s first anthology of African-American lesbian love stories, entitled, “Longing, Lust, and Love: Black Lesbian Stories.” The anthology will be edited by the author of “Bliss,” Fiona Zedde. The book will includ various stories from new voices and a few of our stellar lesbian authors and their description of what love means to them through the various stages of this powerful emotion between women of color. The publication of this book will be the first of many African-American GLBT books that will be published by Nghosi Books.com.
I’m also working on my second novel, although it’s not the long awaited sequel of “A Deeper Love,” it is a part of collection of stories that I’m working on. The new book is entitled, “The Minister’s Wife,” and it’s about the choice a woman of God must make to be true to herself, and that choice involves holding on to her religious background and beliefs or exploring another spiritual aspect of her life that accepts her sexuality. In addition to the literary works in progress, I’m also working on revamping my current web site, Nghosi Books.com and enhancing the features and services that we offer to both artists and art lovers.
I’m also involved in a charitable project entitled, “Cuddle Up With Charis,” which is a new print and Internet campaign to help one of the southeast’s oldest independent bookstores, Charis Books and More increase their awareness and ultimately increase their revenue to prevent them from closing due to financial challenges. I could go on, but I’d like to continue to keep you informed as new projects arise.
Earliest memory of being a writer and first publication experience:
When I was 10 years old and began to write my very own African-American soap operas and romance novels. I published my debut novel, “A Deeper Love” in 2002 under a print-on-demand company, iUniverse.com.
How do you identify and nurture ideas for new projects?
The first book was created out of a desire I had for a co-worker while I was in a long-term relationship. I chose to act out my fantasy through a manuscript that eventually evolved into something much deeper. After ending a 6 year relationship with my first lover, I began to do more soul searching and came to a realization that I didn’t know who I really was and that I had lived my life pleasing others and identifying as one half of a partnership with my ex-lover. Three years after the end of that relationship I began to grow into my own person and developed a deeper love for God, myself, and a love that ultimately led to the true purpose of this novel. After completing the first novel, I was inspired by other events that either took place in my life years ago or events that I was experiencing in the present, and I developed an outline for five other novels that would have characters who would ultimately meet in the fifth novel and this novel would tie all of the stories together.
Authors/writers/performers or others that have influenced your artistic style:
My family and friends are definitely an influence on my writing. Many of the characters in “A Deeper Love,” are based on different personalities of my family and friends. The character of James is the “idea” of what I wish one of my ex-best friends could be. Angel’s mom and Uncle Paul are based on my ex-lover’s parents. And of course, Paula is based on the co-worker that I had a crush on many years ago. One of the novels that I will publish in the future, “It’s All About Family,” is based on the often difficult relationship that I have with my mother and the grandmother that I adored who helped to keep us together. LGBT community is also an influence. I addressed the stereotypes and the role playing that is so common within our community in “A Deeper Love,” as well as the issue of dating an older woman, and the various responses received from family when a gay person comes out to his/her family.
E. Lynn Harris has also been inspirational to me. His determination and his desire to share a world that many were not completely aware of has definitely influenced me. Nikki Giovanni, although a poet, her melodic voice captured my heart a long time ago. I dream of being as poetic within my prose as she is. Terri McMillan’s girlfriend approach to bringing her readers into the world of her characters as if it were their own, is definitely inspiration for me. I want to give my readers that same type of “pull up a chair and let me tell you what happened” feeling. The humor and narrative of Cheryl Dunye, a wonderful screenwriter/actor/director, caught me by surprise when I viewed her movie The Watermelon Woman 7 years ago. I fell in love with the way her dialogue gave me “a feel good” emotion. I wanted to be able to bring that same feeling to my work. The sensuality and eroticism of Sidra Smith’s characters in A Luv Tale inspired me to tell a tale of love so sweet and sensual.
2-3 books or CDs that everyone should own:
I recommend author S. Stephens’ “Am I My Sister’s Keeper?”, author, Fiona Zedde’s “Blss,” and author, Trish Carter’s “Linger…Lust is Surface,” as three books that should definitely be a part of everyone’s book collection. My recommendation is based on the fact that each writer describes a different face and feeling of a LGBT person. Through their writing we are able to receive a complete picture of our community.
My thoughts on LGBGT authors’ obligation to the LGBT community:
I definitely believe that we as LGBT authors have an obligation to the LGBT community. In the past, black lesbians and gay males didn’t always have a true identity in literature, and I want to be a part of the revolution that will change this. That is why I will continue to write LGBT literature that speaks to the LGBT community of today but also carries a universal theme so that we can connect with other communities and bridge the gap that has been created based on ignorance and fear.
Advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t be afraid to tell your story and fight for its publication. No matter what the subject matter is, if you believe in what you’ve written, others will too. But you must be the coach of this team and provide the motivation needed to see the game to the end. Be prepared to invest not only your time but your money into your project. Always remember, that no one will love your book more than you. So don’t assume that people will always be willing to offer assistance without knowing “what’s in it” for them. You may not be able to pay them a lot of money, or no money at all, but offer them some sort of investment into your project, and they will follow.
Preview of my upcoming project(s):
I’m currently working on my second novel, “The Minister’s Wife,” which is a story that takes us into the life of a minister that was destined at birth to be called into the ministry and do great things but becomes torn between the church and her sexuality. I’m also working on opening a small print press with the publication of our first lesbian anthology entitled, “Longing, Lust, and Love: Black Lesbian Stories.” The anthology will be available in September of this year and the second novel will be available the early part of 2007.