LaToya: Hi Danielle, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Danielle: Hello, LaToya. First and foremost, thank you for creating a platform as such for writers. I grew up in Fayetteville, NC. I was raised by a single mother of two (I have an older brother). I attended and graduated from North Carolina Central University with a Bachelor’s in Biology and Chemistry in 2008. In 2013, I received my Masters of Public Health and Epidemiology. Currently, I work in scientific research and write as much as possible. I enjoy any activity involving my community, especially Girl Scouts, which I have the pleasure of being a leader in Durham County.
LaToya: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Danielle: I have the desire to write a novel one day. Poetry has always been my first love, but a novel lives inside of me. I am still pondering on what to write about and how I can inspire another reader or writer that may come in the future.
LaToya: Which writers inspire you?
Danielle: I have many inspirations. I must include the following: Langton Hughes, Dr. Maya Angleou, Nikki Giovanni, April Sinclair, and Marita Golden. These writers have influenced my soul and thoughts with their wisdom and prose. By one quick read, I’ve gain strength and knowledge, and felt fearless when contemplating what to write from my own point of view.
LaToya: What are you working on at the minute?
Danielle: I am currently working on my second poetry collection, Words I Should Have Said Before. When time permits, I attempt to research on novel writing techniques, structures, and novel do’s and don’ts.
LaToya: What genre are your books and why?
Danielle: I love to engage in poetry, selective romance (not too explicit), drama, and urban---anything that I can relate to and most definitely learn from. All of these genres reflect everyday circumstances and/or trials and tribulation amongst people and at times, myself.
LaToya: In 10 words or less can you create a quote that describes you and your writing?
Danielle: Yes. I would love to. I actually created a quote for my business cards. “Poet I am. Poetically I speak---allow my poems to exhibit me.” My apology for it being more than 10 words but it is perfect. It is me. LOL
LaToya: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Danielle: If the novel I wrote became a movie, I would love to see Viola Davis play a main role. She is phenomenal. I love her poise and intellect. In every character that she plays, I see a new character and progression---never the same. And I love that. She owns every role.
LaToya: When did you decide to become a writer?
Danielle: I began writing as a child. I remember the day my mother handed me my first journal. I went from writing journals and short stories to poems. I still have them now. Writing was therapy after my father departed my family. I always felt like my pen was the pal that lent a shoulder, and my notebook paper was the other pal that lent an ear.
LaToya: Do you write full-time or part-time?
Danielle: I write part-time---poems, songs, anything. I write a poem every day. It depends on the location, my emotions, the news, and the vibe of my environment.
LaToya: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Danielle: My inner thoughts blossoms at night. During the day, I like to people watch. I know that sounds weird, but they create life behind most of my poetry. I love to listen to the conversations around me and write about it.
LaToya: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Danielle: I used to. Now, I don’t. I just keep writing until I find a period after a lovely ending.
LaToya: Where do your ideas come from?
Danielle: The world. My heart. My thoughts. From listening.
LaToya: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you
Danielle: With poetry, no outline, just only the collaboration of my senses. For novels, I have so many ideas, titles, and plots since high school. I can’t wait to share one day.
LaToya: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Danielle: I evolve with time. Of course, reading, listening to music, observing photography and art, and traveling has improved my freedom in the world of literature. I keep focus on what’s moving so that my words can catch up and live later.
LaToya: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Danielle: Finding enough courage for your words to be accepted or appreciated for what they are, as they are.
LaToya: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Danielle: It will be my second offspring. Do I want this book to better than the first one? Do I want my voice to be heard and not muffled? Do I care to be bold and blunt without being misunderstood? Yes to all.
LaToya: What is the easiest thing about writing?
Danielle: Writing. It’s just that short, sweet, and simple.
LaToya: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Danielle: I had poems set aside for my books in the future since high school. So for my first book, A Slice of Purple Pie, I went back through my journals and just selected a variety, from the past to the present. So, it took me three months to select, type (if needed), and edit the poems before submitting my manuscript.
LaToya: Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Danielle: I would love to be a New York Times Best Seller. That is every writer’s goal, right? Just one time. Along with being in Oprah’s book club. LOL But seriously, I would love to be a respected writer for my craft and a mentor to other writers. I believe highly in becoming successful and paving a way for another.
LaToya: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Danielle: Never mind whether you are accepted or not, just continue to push through fear with your heart in chest and your head to the sky.
LaToya: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Danielle: In 2012, I was very blessed to have met Dr. Maya Angelou in Winston-Salem, NC. I will never in a million years forget that moment-- holding her hand while talking and crying to her. Thanking her for every moment that she has made. She is truly phenomenal---a true color and diamond indeed. There was nothing she couldn’t do, and that is what I admired the most about her. She traveled, loved freely, fought through adversity, and still ROSE through it all. To me, she was power.
I wish I could have met Langton Hughes. But Angelou, spoke highly of their memories and that was more than enough for me. So in one day, I had a piece of them both.
LaToya: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Danielle: Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair. This was by far the best the novel I read in a long time. I could see all the colors beyond the characters’ actions. I even envisioned the actors and actresses that could possible play each character’s role. It was definitely a must read that I completed in two days. It is remarkable for telling history and reforming history at the same time.
LaToya: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Danielle: Keep writing because someone will read.
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Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.