Blaque Diamond Interview - Love Your Craft
Blaque Diamond was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. She developed in interest in writing at the age of eleven, and at twelve attempted writing her first book - The Telephone Killer. Poetry has long been a passion for Blaque Diamond and she often used it to tell of her struggles in life. When Blaque Diamond isn't writing, she enjoys traveling, volunteering, music, and cooking. She's the author of four books, and has two more coming out in 2017.
Sam Hunter: So, the book is comprised of several short stories. What made you go down that route rather than a full novel?
Blaque Diamond: Well, Love, Lies, and Heartbreak began as just one story. I had never written a short story before, so I challenged myself to write one. To me, it was impossible to fit a whole story into just 10,000 words, so I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Once I finished the first story, I discovered that I liked the idea of telling a story in so few words. Then I had the idea of putting several short stories together in one book. Since the story that I wrote dealt with infidelity, I decided to make all of the stories centered on that same theme.
Sam: I found the stories quite dark. Is that your writing style in general?
Blaque: I write what I categorize as Contemporary African-American fiction. Contemporary to me means modern. So, even though some of the stories end in tragedy, it is real life. I depicted stories that happen in every day society. The stories are fiction, but they could be someone else’s reality. From the feedback that I receive from my readers, they
can relate to my stories because either they have been in one of the situations, or they know someone who has been. Stories like the ones that appear in this book are displayed in movies and television all the time. So, I don't consider my writing dark, it's just real life and real situations.
Sam: How different was the experience compared to working on a full novel?
Blaque: I do see differences in the two. With short stories there isn't really much time to be specific like it is in a novel. In a short story, you have to get to the point of the story and keep the reader engaged. When working on my novel, I had plenty of time to develop my characters, settings and scenes like I wanted to. I do like the fact that I do have the ability to write both short and long publications. It just shows my ability to be versatile.
Sam: Out of the books you've published, which is your favorite, and why?
Blaque: My favorite book that I have published would have to be my novel His or Her Betrayal? It is my favorite because I take a real society issue and tell a tragic story of wanting acceptance. Although the story ends in tragedy, I wanted to depict a real reaction if someone found out that the person they loved was keeping such a secret from them. If I had let the story end in happily ever after, then it wouldn’t have seemed real, so unfortunately my story ended the way it did.
Sam: You've got two more books coming out soon, can you tell me a little about those?
Blaque: Yes, I have a novella scheduled to be released next week. It is actually the continuation of the short story What You Won't Do, which is in the anthology. Based on feedback from my readers, they wanted more. More drama between Trevor and Lisa, so I turned the short story into a novella. I had a chance to expand on my characters and give a little more insight into their relationship. In all of my books there is always a message that I want my readers to take away from my book. From what I have been told, by the time they reach the end of the book, they catch the seed that I intentionally planted for them to find. Also, I am releasing the second volume of Love, Lies, and Heartbreak. The lies, betrayal, and pain continues. I try to think of different scenarios that someone could find themselves in and how it could turn out.
Sam: And where does your inspiration to write come from?
Blaque: My love of writing stems from my love of reading. As a child, reading was my favorite pastime. Instead of playing outside, I could always be found with my head buried in a book. Eventually, that love veered towards wanting to create my own world. My fifth-grade teacher encouraged me to pursue my writing, because she believed that I had a natural gift. I knew that I loved to write my own stories and create my own imaginary worlds, but I didn’t think I had what it took to be an author seriously, so writing was just something to do as a hobby.
Sam: So how did you go about transitioning it from a hobby to publishing books?
Blaque: My transition began when I started posting snippets of stories and poems I had written over the years on social media. I wanted to see what others thought of my writing, so I took a leap of faith and put my stuff out there. The feedback I received was awesome. People really liked what I was writing and they wanted to read more. Some even encouraged me to write a book. That is something I had always wanted to do, but I didn't really think I had what it took to be an author. So, I would have to say that the encouragement and faith of my readers is what pushed me to pursue my dream of being a published author.
Sam: What advice would you give someone who aspires to be an author?
Blaque: I would tell them to go with their heart. If they feel that writing is their passion, then go for it. Put their love of writing on paper, and let the world read what they have to say. Love your craft, and it will love you back.
Sam: Where is your favorite place to write?
Blaque: My favorite place to write is my home-office, which my good friend's daughter named “the pink room.” She calls it that because of course, mostly everything in it is pink. Pink is one of my favorite colors, so my office is decorated in shades of pink. I think of my office as my sanctuary. When I go in there, the rest of the world is closed off to me. I am free to relax, and let my creative juices flow.
Sam: What get you emotional, you know, brings tears to your eyes?
Blaque: Hmm . . . What can bring tears to my eyes? A lot of things. I’m such an emotional person. When I’m watching a movie and something good happens to a character I like, the water-works start. I don’t go into full-crying mode, but tears do burn my eyes from happiness. Also, if I’m watching a movie and something bad happens to a character I like, the water-works appear. It has even gotten to the point where my nose gets stopped up, and tears actually trickle down my face. Sad isn’t it? Lol.
Sam: Well, empathy is a key attribute for a writer. I've always found empathy to be really important for being able to get inside a character's head and know what they are all about. So I can relate with how you connect emotionally with characters like that. I understand you like to read a lot. How many books have you read so far this year?
Blaque: Well, thanks to good ole Goodreads who helps me keep track of the books I’ve read, I can say that I have read ninety-seven books in the year 2017. My goal was to read one-hundred, and I’m almost there. Am I a book-worm, or what? Lol.
Sam: It's a ton more books than I've read this year, that's for sure. Who is your favorite author and why?
Blaque: Hmm . . . There are just so many, But If I had to pick one, I would say Kimberla Lawson Roby. I love her style of writing, and I love the drama that her characters always seem to find themselves in.
Sam: What's something that your readers might not know about you?
Blaque: Well, I’m sure that most of my readers do not know that I am blind. Yes, I said it. I am blind. Like blind as a bat blind.
Sam: That's something I didn't know while reading your book but picked up on it when I listened to your interview on The Blind Hour Podcast. I thought that was great, by the way. People should check it out. In that interview you explained what happened, because you weren't born blind.
Blaque: No, I wasn't, I lost my sight when I was fifteen-years old due to a fight with my brother. He punched me in the eye, and it caused my retina to detach. Since my family didn’t get me help in time, the damage is irreversible. Life was hard for me at first, but as I got older, I learned to deal with my new situation. I don’t let it stop me from living life to the fullest. I like to say “I may have lost my sight, but I haven’t lost my vision.” A lot of people call me an inspiration, but I’m only being myself. If I inspire others to get up and achieve their dreams, then I guess I’m doing something right.
Sam: And if you were to describe what makes you unique, what would it be?
Blaque: I would have to say that my strength and determination is what makes me unique. Despite all the adversities I have had to overcome in my life, it hasn’t stopped me from believing in myself. I have found myself in situations that the average person probably wouldn’t be able to come back from, but through it all, I am still standing. I am determined to accomplish my dreams, and I take the bad with the good and make the most of it.
Sam: How do you deal with writer’s block?
Blaque: When I find myself grasping at straws to come up with something to write about, I usually take a break. I leave that project alone for a while. Either I go on to another writing project, or I take a break on writing all together. I don’t try to force myself to write if my mind doesn’t want to cooperate at that time. Once I feel I have given myself enough time to rejuvenate, then I pick back up where I left off. Just as your body needs to rest, so does your brain.
Sam: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as an author?
Blaque: To me, my biggest accomplishment was having the courage to push the publish button. When I did that one minor, insignificant thing, I made my dreams a reality. I wasn’t thinking about whether I was going to be successful as an author, or if anyone was going to buy my book. The only thing that I was thinking about was the fact that I had just published my first book. That was the proudest moment of my life. Knowing that I had just released a book to the world that I had written, gave me the greatest feeling of pride.
Sam: If you were trapped on a desert island and could bring only one person, who would it be, and why?
Blaque: I would bring my best friend/sister. Even though we do not share the same blood running through our veins, she’s the closet thing I have to family. With her personality, she would make our stay on the island an interesting experience.
Sam: And if she described you in one word, what would it be?
Sam: Do you have any other talents besides writing?
Blaque: Yes, I love to braid hair. I've been doing so since the age of four when my older cousin taught me how to plat on a Barbie doll. I taught myself how to corn roll and do other things. I have always wanted to own my own hair salon/spa since the age of four, and I do plan to make that dream come true. Also, I enjoy making my own DIY skin care products. I am into natural skin care, so I love to combine ingredients to come up with my own creations. I have created body butters, which are lotions that I sell as a side-business.
Sam: What is the worst writing mistake you’ve ever made?
Blaque: Sadly, I would have to say my worst writing mistake has been less than professional editing. When I released my first book, it had so many grammatical errors, I was ashamed to say that I had published it. I was so excited to be publishing my first book that I didn’t pay attention to the obvious errors. I was upset with myself because not only did I waste money on an editor who didn’t have a clue about editing, but I also put work out there that could possibly have lost me a faithful reader. Since then, I have invested in better editors, and I myself have reviewed the editor’s work before I put my book out there. I have researched proper editing styles and have implemented them in my writing as well. So, even though I do now have a good editor, I still go behind the editor to make sure that everything is correct.
Sam: How does it make you feel when a reader tells you they enjoyed reading your book?
Blaque: Awwww! It brings tears to my eyes. I love what I do, but I love it even more when others love what I do. I can think my work is great all day, but if nobody else thinks so, then what is it all for? When readers ask when my next book is coming out, I especially love that. It lets me know that they are eagerly awaiting another release from me.
Sam: What's your zodiac sign?
Blaque: My zodiac sign is Virgo. I have never really been into the whole signs, stars and charts stuff, but when I looked at the characteristics of my sign, I found that it described me perfectly. There were some minor details I don’t fall under, but for the most part, I am a Virgo.
Sam: What is your favorite food?
Blaque: Well, I love some pasta. Even though it doesn’t agree with my hips and waist, I love it all the same. Also, as a girl who grew up in Charleston, SC, I love seafood. Especially shrimp.
Sam: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Blaque: In five years, I see myself married with at least one child. I also see myself opening my hair salon/spa that I have always dreamed of. As far as my writing career, I see myself publishing more books and generating a huge fan base. I want to see my books transformed into plays and movies, and I have faith that it is going to happen.
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