Join the Sexy Ebony BBW African American Book Club as we chat with Nationally Best-Selling Author and member Naleighna Kai (Lissa Woodson), our August 2010 Featured Author. Please feel free to comment on the interview. And don't forget to visit the Sexy Ebony BBW African American Book Club website for a chance to win the Naleighna Kai Prize Packet which includes a copy of her latest release Pleasure's All Mine. Contest ends September 4, 2010. Go to http://www.sexyebonybbwaabookclub.com/ for more information and contest links. (This interview will also be posted on BBW Reviews Author Interviews. For a second chance to win a copy of Pleasure's All Mine visit the BBW Reviews website and click on BBW Reviews Author Interviews http://www.bbwreviewers.com/
1) How long have you been writing? I started writing in December of 1999, so that makes it 11 years for writing and this year is the 10th Anniversary of my first published novel.
2) What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I met someone on the internet who challenged me to write after he had sent me poetry, erotic poetry, and erotic short stories. It was a spark when I wrote him back and then my minister (also an author), Sesvalah, encouraged me to continue to write as part of my sexual abuse therapy. My second novel, She Touched My Soul, was all about that healing process. I’ve writing ever since and each book mirrors some aspect of my life or some question about my life that I’m trying to answer.
3) Why did you chose to feature plus size heroines in your novels.
Because I’m a plus-size woman. There’s already enough books that wrote about slender women as heroines and woman my size as mothers, aunties, best friends, etc. I wanted women size 14 and up to take center stage, and feel good about it.
4) We will be giving away copies of Pleasure's Is All Mine on both the BBW Reviews Author Interview blog and The Sexy Ebony BBW AA Book Club site. Tell us a little about Pleasure's Is All Mine and the fierce plus size character in your novel. Why should readers run out and get their copy of your book today.
Because it’s the best book I’ve written to date. The majority of the people who have read all of my books love this one the most. I had fun writing this novel, took my time. My national bestselling novel, Every Woman Needs a Wife, was written in four days--four Fridays in a row from 8p.m.- to 6 a.m. at a little hole in the wall on the South Side of Chicago. I took my time with The Pleasure’s All Mine. Raven is a lot like me in some ways, nothing like me in other. She’s an author, raised by two women who were together for several years, has an author son, owns her own publishing company, has traveled to Hawaii and is looking for love. Hmmmm, but some of the experiences that she has in the book are pure fiction. Pierce, the Castle, the married couple who “conditions” her for that one night as a Maid of the Castle. When a meal is good, sometimes people will say, “guuuurl, you stuck your foot in those greens…” Well, I stuck my a$$ in this book, because it feels good to me, as an avid reader. I wrote something I like to read over and over. And because of this book I understand how and why my brother and sister never felt that I was actually their sister for all these years. I finally forgave them.
5) You self-published Pleasure’s All Mine through Macro Publishing Group. But before we get into Macro Publishing Group and the other side of the fierce woman you are, why did you decide to self-publish The Pleasure’s All Mine?
Because this novel was itching to get out. I’m in between publishing deals right now and it’s been four years since my last release. When an author is out of a reader’s eye too long…well, let’s just say it’s harder to make a comeback. I started off self-published before getting the deal with an imprint of Simon & Schuster. While waiting, I just went back to the familiar and I’m out there hitting the literary chit’lin circuit so “Naleighna Kai” stays out there; meets new people and greets old friends.
6) Tell us a little about Macro Publishing and its various activities both in and outside the literary community. When I wrote my first novel, More Than Enough, I was so excited about the writing process and starting my own company, that I wanted everyone in my life to write. I started my best friend to writing, my minister to writing, my son to writing, my dog to writing (mind you, I didn’t have a dog), but I was elated that I could do something I never imagined doing. I published a few other people before realizing that babysitting other people’s children can be more costly and time-consuming than nurturing your own, and it put the thing that I finally found a connection to on the back burner. I wasn’t writing as much. Through it all, I found out that I love doing something else just as much as writing--marketing and promotion. So I shifted my focus away from publishing others, helped the current wave of authors with Macro to start their own houses and publish their own books, then moved into the realm of publicity and event planning--all literary related. I’m loving it. I’ve connected with major sponsors such as Loreal, Kama Sutra, Harley Davidson and all of the major publishing house who have been crucial to the success of The Cavalcade of Authors and my other signature events.
7) Writing wise what is next for Naleighna Kai. Is there another plus size heroine in your future? My next novels are: Slaves of Heaven and Rich Woman’s Fetish. I think all of my lead characters will have some “weight on them” with a “close to slender side kick.” There are enough authors who write about size 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 already. Not so much on 14 and up. And truthfully, when I find that someone writes that a character is voluptuous or curvy, my mind does not go to 0-12, I picture someone like me.
8) And what is next for Lissa Woodson, the mother, writer, and entrepreneur behind Naleighna Kai?
Right now, I’m working on my next novel, Slaves of Heaven, which is totally different than what I normally write. My son is home from Nashville, so it’s been a bit of a challenge to find the mother-son dynamic now that he’s a “grown ass man.” I’m currently the publicist for L.A. Banks and for Sea Lion Book and it’s forcing me to get a handle on the young adult novel world--which is different than what I’m used to. I’m also still doing publicity work and touring to promote, The Pleasure’s All Mine and the rest of my books, along with my son and my minister, Sesvalah, with whom I co-wrote, Speak it into Existence--an inspirational book.
9) What is a typical day like in Lissa Woodson's world. How do you manage time for self along with everything else? I work a 9 to 5 at an international law firm, I’m the publicist to New York Times bestselling author, L.A. Banks, myself as Naleighna Kai, my son, NAACP Image Award Nominee, and my minister, Rev. Renee Sesvalah Cobb-Dishman.
10)What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a writer? Settling down and finishing one novel at a time. I have several “nearly finished” projects that haven’t made it to finish status because the next idea comes in so strong and takes over. I finally made a commitment to myself not to start the next book or work on one of the back burner projects until I finish what’s on my plate right this minute. It’s a challenge, but I’m making it work.
11) What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your entire career? Learning the difference between someone who considers you an associate and one who considers you a friend. Learning the difference between giving your time and sacrificing yourself. Learning that saying Yes to yourself might mean saying No to someone else. Compartmentalizing my time so that I’m more effective at my day job, being an author, event planner, publicist, and balancing my dreams and goals and checking them off one by one.
12) Where do you see yourself a year from now? Releasing my next novel, traveling to promote the book and having a whole lot of fun, writing, doing marketing and promotion work for some wonderful people, about 100 pounds lighter (I’ll still be plus size, though!)
13) What are you reading now? As I type, I’m just finishing up, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted by E. Lynn Harris. A wonderful memoir, up there with the memoir of Diane Carroll (The Legs are the Last to Go) and Susan D. Peters’ Sweet Liberia: Lessons from the Coalpot.
14) Who are your favorite authors? Octavia Butler, L.A. Banks, Leslie Esdaile Banks, Iris Johansen, Sandra Brown, Sidney Sheldon, Harrold Robbins, E. Lynn Harris, Beverly Jenkins, Brenda Jackson, Rochelle Alers, there’s so many that I could take a whole page!
15) How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website?
They can reach me at http://www.naleighnakai.com/ or http://www.macrompg.com/
16) What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you?
I’m enjoying the journey. If someone told me that twelve years ago I would be a national best-selling author, I would have choked on my drink. But since I started, I’ve learned a lot about me, what I’m made of, what I’m willing to put up with, and to send folks who don’t mean me any good--packing. I’ve met so many wonderful people, my favorite authors, people who love my books, people who still have an eyebrow raised trying to understand where I’m coming from. I’ve become a better person for the experience, and feel that in some way, I’m living my life’s purpose.
17) If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be?
It wouldn’t be just one thing, aspiring writers can visit http://www.naleighnakai.com/ and see everything I have to say to them (I’ve put up resources, told of my journey and give advice under the resources for aspiring writers section).