When I was a little girl, I fell in love with fairy tales. With stories, really. And my fascination with them led me to make up my own in my head. I had a sixth grade teacher who would let me tell my stories to our class sometimes. Those were my first attempts, I suppose. Later, in junior high, I wrote stories down and somehow convinced my friends to act them out with me. In high school, I recognized the kick I got out of writing, so I went to college with the intention of becoming a journalist--trying to kill two birds with one stone: Write and make a living at it. But that didn't work out because I absolutely hated my first journalism class at Indiana University and, instantly, decided to change my major to Literature since I loved the stories I was reading in all my Lit classes. I minored in Creative Writing and, in grad school, I elected Creative Writing as my major.
James Baldwin, the great Black author, was a major influence on my learning how to express myself with words. His vocabulary and sentence construction in his novels and essays mesmerized me. I imitated him until I felt confident enough to try my own voice and style.
Other authors whose craft and techniques I admire and have learned from include Stephen King, whose early novels provided me with a model for narrative structure and building conflict and suspense; Judith Ortiz Cofer, whose narrative essays in her memoir, Silent Dancing, captivated me and influenced my beginning tries at writing narrative essays; bell hooks, whose memoirs, Wounds of Passion and Bone Black, seared me to the core because of her unflinching, forthright honesty and passion; and my old friend, Nikki Giovanni, whose writer's voice I admire for its distinctive honesty, and whose essays, in The Prosaic Soul of Nikki Giovanni, I love studying because they're filled with wonderful anecdotes and stories.
Born and raised in the segregated South during the Jim Crow era.
Attended all Black public schools. Did not encounter integration until I went to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Talk about culture shock!
Working career background includes:
2.Community Relations Director.
3.Banking and Insurance industry work.
4.Minority AIDS Project-Assistant Director of HIV Health Education and Agency Writer & Trainer.
5.College Professor in English and Sociology.
6.Freelance Writer for NonProfit Agencies, Magazines, Newspapers.