My name is Kimani Lauren. I'm the mother of 3 fine little boys and one cute little puppy. I'm addicted to bracelets, shoes, makeup, good food, and well written books. I'm an '80's baby and in love with the music of the '90's.
2. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was 12 and saw my first novel published.
3. What inspired you to write your first book?
Two things. The initial idea came from an episode of BET's "The Game" in which one of the characters took her step-son to have a DNA test. I was bothered by that and wanted to know what the long term effects of that incident were for that child. As the story evolved I decided to incorporate an issue that is near and dear to my heart: teen suicide.
4. What books have influenced your life most?
"Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor. Honestly, all of her books have influenced me greatly. Omar Tyree's "Fly Girl" and Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing" have also made an impact on me. I guess you can also say "The Babysitter's Club" series influenced me because they kept me reading, they made me ambitious, and they helped to formulate my first thoughts on what a successful writing career looked like.
5. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Karen E. Quinones Miller, because even with all of her success, she is still humble enough to help those who are just getting into the industry with any and everything we need. She never makes me feel like the questions I'm asking are stupid. She's also a joy to converse with.
6. What book are you reading now?
I just finished Daniel Black's "The Sacred Place." I'm staring at a Kindle full of books trying to figure out which one I want to read next.
7. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read, shop, eat, spend time with my family, and watch anything ratchet on TV.
8. Where do you get your ideas for your books?
I always say that God meant for me to be a writer because of the characters he brings into my life. I meet the oddest people and overhear the strangest things, so I always carry something I can jot down ideas on. After that the sound of running water -whether it's in the shower, while I'm washing dishes, or walking along a river- sparks the flow of a story. A lot of times, too, the characters just come to me, introduce themselves, and tell me their lives' stories. It sounds insane, but it happens quite often.
9. What new author has grasped your interest?
Nique Roberson, author of "Tatted on my Neck." Keith Kareem Williams, author of "Open Spaces." Aaron Bebo, author of "Change for a Dollar." There are also two fantasy authors that I love- R.W. Ridley, author of a series called "The Oz Chronicles" and Kendall Grey, author of the "Just Breathe" novels.
10. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
11. What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
Since this book is so short the chapters don't have numbers, but it was definitely the one where Najae meets her grandparents for the first time. I stayed up until four a.m. writing that one. It took so many twists and turns that it surprised me.
12. Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I wanted people to know that teen depression is real. I came up during an era when only the feelings of adults were acknowledged. As a teenager I dealt with some real issues, and so did my friends. Now that I'm an adult, I want to speak up for those children. I want my peers to understand that the choices they make do affect their children whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. You hear so much about bullies in the media right now. I wanted people to realize that sometimes the parents are the bullies. They're the worst ones to have, too, because they're almost impossible to escape. The purpose of this story was to start a dialogue between parents and children, possibly to get them to attend counseling if need be. Mental health is such a taboo issue in our society. I don't want it to be that anymore.
13. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
My next book, "Consider Your Ways," is different from "Love, Najae." It's more of a street lit book, but it is focused on getting the characters off the streets and out the projects. "Consider Your Ways" tells the story of a 23 year old single mother named Shatima Robinson. Shatima is an introvert who was emotionally scarred by the father of her child and the deaths of her father and one of her brothers. She meets a thug who she tries desperately not to fall in love with. It turns out that he holds the key to her past. To him, she is the inspiration he needs to turn his life around. The story takes readers through the ups and downs of their relationship which lead up to one event that causes them to make some tough decisions about the way they've lived their lives up until that point.
14. How do you market your book(s)?
I do a lot of promotion online via the various popular social networking sites. I mail out postcards and do a lot of word of mouth. Being that this is an eBook it's challenging to talk it up without having a physical book to close the sale with at the end of the conversation, but the talking works.
15. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Yes. Writing a book is not a get rich quick scheme. Don't rush to put anything out. Hire an editor. Create a marketing budget. Don't expect any support that you haven't worked for. Most importantly, be your biggest fan. Nobody should think higher of your work than you do. Be humble, but at the same time toot your own horn whenever you can.