Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Tumika Patrice Cain author of When a Man Loves a Woman: A Season of Change.
LaToya: Hi Tumika, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Tumika: Hi Latoya, thank you for having me as a guest. I’m glad to be with you today. Creative writing for me began in early elementary school with a class assignment where poetry was introduced. As an early reader, the love of words was already there. Introducing poetry took it to another level after I wrote my first poem. By the time I reached junior high, I’d started getting recognition for my writing; by high school I’d won an award. In my early twenties, I wrote the first draft of what would become When a Man Loves a Woman: A Season of Change, although it would be many years before it would be published. In addition to writing women’s contemporary fiction, I also write poetry, blog, book reviews and a column entitled, Literally Speaking for PEN’Ashe Magazine.
LaToya: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Tumika: To produce the highest quality writing that I can. Writing that exposes, inspires, and empowers others to live an authentic life, an abundant life. My purpose is to write fiction that causes readers to think, reflect and take action. My tag is Changing lives one word at a time… It’s more than a statement; it’s a declaration, a lifestyle.
LaToya: Which writers inspire you?
Tumika: Maya Angelou, Beverly Jenkins, JK Rowlings (even though I don’t read her genre, her story into the publishing world is amazing!), E. Lynn Harris, Eric Jerome Dickey, Alice Walker, Pearl Cleage – each of them inspires me in a different way. I am very thankful for their journey, for the work that they produce, and for the place they hold within the literary arena.
LaToya: What are you working on at the minute?
Tumika: I am finishing up the first draft of book two in the When a Man Loves a Woman series and drafting notes to begin research for book three in the same series.
LaToya: What genre are your books and why?
Tumika: I write in the women’s contemporary fiction genre, because I am a woman who feels passionately about the state and treatment of women worldwide. It is my hope to see us empowered. I wholeheartedly believe that when we change everyone around us has to change also. They just can’t deal with us the same way, because we are not the same. Women working individually and collectively to change our inner workings, will ultimately assist in causing change in other areas of our lives. I long to see our lives changed for the better. I also have a couple of poetry collections.
LaToya: In 10 words or less can you create a quote that describes you and your writing?
Tumika: Passionate, thought-provoking, enriching; Changing lives one word at a time…
LaToya: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Tumika: Lark Voorhies in her younger years would have made a great Alicia, although I wondered if she would have brought depth to her character since I’ve never seen Lark play a serious role. Phillip Michael Thomas (from the original Miami Vice where he played alongside Don Johnson) would make a fantastic Avery.
LaToya: When did you decide to become a writer?
Tumika: I’ve always been a writer and knew that no matter what else was going on in my life that I always wanted writing to be a part of it. However, it was after I wrote the first draft of When a Man Loves a Woman: A Season of Change that I decided I wanted to be an author. It was many years later that I was presented with the opportunity to make that dream a reality.
LaToya: Do you write full-time or part-time?
Tumika: I write part-time, however I am working on one aspect of the literary arena at all times. I write for a couple of magazines, edit for a publishing company, as well as for independent authors, host radio shows geared to providing exposure for authors and run my blogs.
LaToya: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Tumika: I fit writing in as I can. I work long hours, have a small child and a very full plate. There’s no set pattern for me. However, when my schedule is much less congested, I find that my creative juices kick in around 6 or 7 in the evening. Given the right environment, I can get a lot done well into the night. I used to laugh and say that I’m a night owl with a day job.
LaToya: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Tumika: No. I’m not that structured. My goals are set up differently. Because of the other projects I do along with writing, it’s more a matter of trying to accomplish a certain number of items on my task list. In addition to writing, I also have to make time to research areas to market. All of that takes time and effort.
LaToya: Where do your ideas come from?
Tumika: I write the subjects I’m passionate about. Inspiration comes from my own life, things I see on the news, people I meet on the street…anywhere.
LaToya: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
Tumika: No, I don’t outline. An idea will come and I’ll start taking notes as the characters are telling me who they are. From there I do a character profile on each of them and then I just write.
LaToya: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Tumika: I started off writing on poetry only. Now I write fiction, devotionals, business related subjects. I just keep myself open to the flow of creativity and try something new when it comes to mind.
LaToya: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Tumika: Finding the time to sit down uninterrupted and just write.
LaToya: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Tumika: I started writing book two of this series 15 years ago. While the concept was there and it came to me in pieces over the years, I think I had not lived enough to really write this book and make it authentic. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve been able to get in there with the nuts and bolts of this story and really write it.
LaToya: What is the easiest thing about writing?
Tumika: For me it’s the writing. I love to write. Even if what I write doesn’t come out at all like I hoped, it’s okay, because putting pen to paper is healing, is freeing…and that in itself is the reward.
LaToya: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Tumika: I have no averages. My first book took 9 months to write. As I mentioned earlier in the interview, the second installment has been a work in progress for 15 years. My poetry collections have been being written one poem at a time for about 20 years. In book three of the When a Man Loves a Woman series, I project that it will take me no longer than 6 months to write that one. I know where I want the story to go. I just need to have time to do some research and put it all together.
LaToya: Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Tumika: Living in a warm climate full-time; running a full service publishing company with a roster of amazingly talented authors working with me; no longer working for anyone other than myself.
LaToya: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Tumika: I would say to her, “Who you are is more than enough, in spite of how people have treated you; you are more than their mistreatment. You are deserving of love and a great life. Live your dreams and don’t stop until you make them all come true. When people show you who they are, believe them and keep it moving right away if dealing with them doesn’t add value to your life. Find the beauty in each moment and embrace it. Take care of you; there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first sometimes. You are important. You matter. You are a person of infinite value. Love yourself.”
LaToya: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Tumika: Maya Angelou. I started reading her works when I was in elementary school. Through her writings, I found that not only was I a person of worth and value, but I was a person who had something to say that deserved to be heard. She was so full of wisdom. I would want time in her presence to soak up whatever she wanted to impart to me.
LaToya: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Tumika: I aspire to write no one else’s stories but my own. So I am the original author of the works I would want to publish. I have my own stories, my own accounts. No one can tell my stories the way I can, likewise, I can’t tell anyone else’s stories they way they can. We can all only be our best. I’m very happy being the author that I am and look forward to continually evolving in my craft.
LaToya: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Tumika: Be true to the gift that you have been given. Write original stories in your authentic literary voice. Believe in yourself. Not everyone will catch your vision, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for your work. It just means that person wasn’t your audience. Continue to develop your skills, taking workshops, read, learn the craft, learn the business and by all means, give readers GOOD WORK! Writing should be fun, not a chore, so have fun…and keep on writing!
Connect with Tumika:
Tumika thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.