Today I have the honor of interviewing Empress Simone author of New York City’s Finest: A Street Lit Novella
LaToya: Hi Empress Simone, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Empress Simone: I am a single mom, author, budding radio personality, avid genealogist (I research my ancestors and a few friend’s ancestors as well), and full time student majoring in communications at DeVry University.
LaToya: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Empress Simone: I would love to become an editor and a writer for a web series. In the near future I will be mapping an outline regarding my genealogy findings on paper to make it a small memoir of the journey finding my ancestors.
LaToya: Which writers inspire you?
Empress Simone: Terry McMillan, K’wan, Toni Morrison and Nikki Turner all inspired me to write. I love me some K’wan and Nikki Turner but Terry McMillan and her book Mama are my ultimate favorite. I have read that book about five times maybe more. Toni Morrison and the Bluest Eye just spoke to me. I could honestly relate to Pecola. As far as recently, I would have to say that London Starr, Fatima Munroe, Authoress Redd, Candace Jackson and Lynice Jackson all inspire me to write as well as encourage me.
LaToya: What are you working on at the minute?
Empress Simone: I have just finished a collaboration with Author R. Coxton. It is called Original Gangsters: Bernard and Claudine. As far as my personal project, I am working a title called Stay Loyal.
LaToya: What genre are your books and why?
Empress Simone: I feel my books are Urban Street Lit. They are Urban, mostly set in the Bronx, New York City area. They contain adult matter and the usage of slang and a little violent.
LaToya: In 10 words or less can you create a quote that describes you and your writing?
Empress Simone: My hashtag is #BxStoryTeller and my quote is “Empress Simone’s Street Lit will leave you ‘Empressed for Life’!! It’s also my brand and the company I publish under.
LaToya: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Empress Simone: I would love for Antoinette Robertson of the Have’s and the Have Nots to play my lead character JaDori and Logan Browning of Hit the Floor to play Geena.
LaToya: When did you decide to become a writer?
Empress Simone: I’ve always loved to write however; it’s taken years for me to publish. My earliest memory of writing was in the second grade doing a skit with my family watching.
LaToya: Do you write full-time or part-time?
Empress Simone: I write Full-time now.
LaToya: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Empress Simone: I love to write after I have my morning coffee.
LaToya: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Empress Simone: No, I don’t.
LaToya: Where do your ideas come from?
Empress Simone: Sometimes my ideas come from overhearing a conversation; other times I can sit there and see images of models or covers and start formulating in my brain how to write it out once I get home.
LaToya: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
Empress Simone: I prefer to see where the story takes me.
LaToya: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Empress Simone: I use less slang and I develop my characters more than my first debut series. I’m also a little more descriptive and these are issues reviewers had on my work so I sought to correct them.
LaToya: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Empress Simone: I believe the hardest thing is keeping your readers interested in your work and keeping your plot interesting as well.
LaToya: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Empress Simone: The hardest part was to mesh my main character, JaDori in with my first release character. Truthfully my latest book was written first but not published first but I felt I had to get her out there to the masses. Since there was a similarity in the story lines I felt I should make JaDori the spinoff of Geena: A Bronx Chick’s Story Series and that’s what I did.
LaToya: What is the easiest thing about writing?
Empress Simone: I would be lying if I said anything was easy about writing. If you want to write and produce quality books then you are very intricate in your details from storyline, character development even down to picking your editor and models for a cover.
LaToya: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Empress Simone: It takes me about thirty days to write a book.
LaToya: Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Empress Simone: In five years’ time I see myself as a college graduate and publishing and editing for other authors. Finally, I would also love being a radio personality.
LaToya: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Empress Simone: I would tell my younger self to stop waddling in guilt, depression and fear. I would tell my younger self to keep striving. It’s okay to go through your emotions but never get stuck there as I seem to use to do. I would emphasize that it does get better.
LaToya: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Empress Simone: I would love to meet Sister Souljah. She is passionate about spreading knowledge that will help the Black Community Unify and do better as a group on a whole. I would love to meet Mary J. Blige. She has helped me through many relationships and inner struggles through her music. I feel from what I know, we’ve pretty much lived the same life except I have children and she’s famous of course. My older sister will even tell you she hears Mary and she just thinks of me. Last but not least I would love to meet a few of my ancestors like my great-grandmother Carrie Riley, My 2x great uncle Mathematics Smith, his sister; my 2x great grandmother Indiana Johnson, my 3x great grandmother Sophia Pleasant and my 4x great grandmother Mariah Clay borne.
LaToya: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Empress Simone: God it’s so hard to choose. I would have loved to have been the author to Mama by Terri McMillan, Kwan’s Animal or Hoodlum, Nikki Turner’s Riding Dirty on I-95 and then lastly Mikal Malone’s Pitbull in a Skirt. I haven’t any specific reason for most of them except these are very great Authors who I aspire to be like and their stories are really wonderful reads. However, with Mikal Malone, her original Pit bulls in a skirt cover, the young lady with the gold boots, a denim skirt, black belly top and her long wavy hair by an open car door is just the way I used to be. I swear I looked at the cover and was like, “well dag when I took this picture.” She’s dope and her series is hot. I’m sitting here waiting for part five.
LaToya: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Empress Simone: I would honestly tell them to stay grounded, focused and to please do not let the destructive opinions of others be destructive to them in which they don’t want to pick up a pen again. It’s the person’s fault if they cannot be constructive in their critiques as they are destructive in them. A review is basically to help an author grow in their craft or congratulate them in a job well done; not to tear the author down. So I would tell the Aspiring Authors to apply some of the constructive criticism to their craft but try not to pay too much attention to the bad ones. It’s their problem not ours. Also network. That’s another one of my quotes or hashtags. #LetsNetwork and I take that very seriously. If an aspiring author wishes to reach out to me, and those who have can tell you, I may be one of the few who will take the time and really try to help find the answer you need.
Connect with Empress Simone:
LaToya: Empress Simone thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview on Creative Expressions Blog today.
Empress Simone: I thank you for having me. Blessings!