Thursday, November 19, 2015

Author Interview with Arnitris Strong

LaToya: If you could choose a famous African American who has impacted your life who would it be and why?
Arnitris: At the age of 12, I was a skinny brown girl raised by a loving family but I was struggling with my self-esteem and identity. My mother gifted a copy of “I know why the caged bird sings” I read the story of a skinny brown girl raised by a loving family who was also struggling with her self-esteem and identity. I related to her story in a way that I’d never related to a story before. As I read the book, I could smell, taste, hear and feel everything she experiences. I strive to recreate that experience for my readers. She was an amazing poet as well who wasn’t confined by conventional standards for what poetry should be.

LaToya: Where are you from? Where do you live now?
Arnitris: I was born in Augusta, Ga but raised in a small town called Waynesboro. I live in the metro Atlanta area now.

LaToya: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 
Arnitris: I’ve been having this love affair with words since the age of 9. I lost the class spelling bee and vowed that I would never compete again. My mother never responded, but that summer I was gifted a tattered green edition of the Webster’s dictionary by my grandmother. Each day, I had to learn 10 new words – I had to learn the part of speech, the definition, spelling and how to use it in a sentence. I realized that I could impress adults with my vocabulary and I used it to my advantage. I honestly never really considered writing as a career, until very recently I struggled with calling myself a writer. A good friend of mine called me a fraud, because I would always describe myself as an aspiring writer. It was hard to hear, but I realized he was correct. I have finally given myself permission to explore this career path.

LaToya: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book? 
Arnitris: I started writing my first book 12 years ago! Since that time, I have struggled to finish it, because it revolves around the complexities of the mother/daughter relationship. I finally finished it last Christmas and it was such a cathartic experience. “The tie that binds”  is a Christian fiction novel about a mother and daughter with a strained relationship that is further tested when the daughter is involved in a terrible accident. It will be released in the spring of 2016.

LaToya: How did you choose the genre you write in? 
Arnitris: I am actually surprised that the first book I published is a children’s book. I never desired to write children’s books. However, I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters that give me plenty of subject matter. I would frequently entertain my co-workers with their antics. One day a coworker suggested that I write a book about them. The seed was planted then, and 2 years later Nappy Tornstockings was born!

LaToya: Where do you get your ideas? 
Arnitris: I have always been a people watcher. My parents constantly chastised me for staring at people. As an adult, I have learned to observe without making it  so obvious.  I love to study their mannerisms, their speech patterns and their weird idiosyncrasies -all of these elements help me to build my characters. I get ideas from everyday life, from snippets of conversations I overhear, from situations my friends endure ( I make sure to warn them that they may revisit the situation one day between the pages of a book or on a movie screen)  and of course I still have to use my imagination.

LaToya: Name one book that you would categorize as a life changing read. 
Arnitris: Other than “I know why the caged bird sings” there would be “For Colored Girls, who considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf”. It  is actually  not a book, but a series of poetic monologues originally performed as a theatrical piece. The stories of the nameless women speak about sexism, racism, oppression and unrequited love. It is amazing that the piece was written in the 70s, but the stories are still relevant today. Every author’s goal should be to produce work that is timeless in its appeal. In that way, writers are immortal. I want to be immortal.

LaToya: Who is your favorite author? 
Arnitris: Maya Angelou, of course!

LaToya: Name one book you wish you’d written. 
Arnitris: I wish that I had written “The Color Purple” it is an African-American classic that has transcended time and space, it has been adapted for both screen and stage. How cool is that?  I think we can all relate to the characters in this story. I’d like to write books that resonate with people – books that transcend time and space.

LaToya: Tell us about your latest book. 
Arnitris: My latest book, “Nappy and the first day of kindergarten” is about a little girl on the first day of kindergarten who is struggling to manage her fears while also trying to assert her independence. Lynn has many nicknames, Princess, Honey Bunny, Panda Bear, and Jiminy Cricket - but her sister calls her Nappy and she doesn’t like it. “Nappy and the first day of kindergarten” is the first in series about Nappy – the next in the series is “Nappy for Bus Monitor”.

LaToya: How can readers connect with you?
Arnitris: Readers may email me at & follow me on social media @arntrs77 on Twitter and Instagram. My FB fan page is Blessed be the tie.

LaToya: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Arnitris: Just write! Someone’s breakthrough is dependent upon your story.

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