Tag Archives: Author Interview

Interview with Andi Cumbo-Floyd

Once again, I am excited to be interviewing one of my mentors, Andi Cumbo-Floyd. It’s been five years since I’ve last interviewed her. I first connected with Andi on Twitter in 2012, and have had the pleasure of following her ever since. She is an amazing writer, editor, coach and much more. If you have not read her blog posts or any of her books, I would highly recommend that you do.


1) What are the things you wished you had known when you were finding your way as a writer?

I wish I had known that the better part of a writer’s life is about discipline and perseverance and much less about talent or inspiration or affirmation. I wish I had known that showing up at the page and doing the work would be reward in and of itself and that avoiding that work would weigh far more heavily than the weight of actually doing it.

2) Could you describe your writing process?

Sure. On the days when mothering and editing allow me time to write, I sit down with a book of poetry and a journal. I read one or two poems, and I watch for the line that most stands out to me for whatever reason. Then, I copy over that line into my journal and start writing with that line. Sometimes I write about what the line brings up, and sometimes, I begin working on my work in progress.  Either way, these few handwritten pages help me drop into the place of creativity and leave the rest of my world behind for a bit.

Then, I transition over to the computer and write 1,000 words on my work in progress.

3) Has becoming a mother changed the way you write?

The most obvious change is that I have far less time to futz around before getting to work. Since I am my son’s primary caregiver and since I also work full-time, I have to get right down to work when I have time to do the writing, which isn’t every day anymore.

But it’s also made me a little less precious with my words, a little less willing to stay on the surface. I go deep and quickly. Sometimes that means my writing is more raw. Sometimes, it means it takes me more time to find what I really need to say.

4) What is “voice” and how do you develop it? How did you find yours?

Voice is, as I see it, just a fancy way of saying the way a writer sounds on the page. It’s a combination of the way a writer says things – sentence structure, vocabulary, dialect – and also what they say about what topics. I found mine – as I think all writers do – through practice. I wrote, read what I wrote (often out loud), and felt what read as most genuine to who I am. Then, I just kept practicing until more of what I wrote sounded like more of me.

5) How does a writer arrive at knowing what they should write (i.e., non-fiction, fiction) and what genre?

I don’t like the word “should” about most things in life, but particularly about writing.  There is no “should” about what a writer writes. It’s all about preference and about what we have to say about things. But there is nothing that any one person should or should not write. There’s only what we want – maybe sometimes need – to write.

6) In your experience, what is the most important aspect in becoming a professional writer?

Discipline and perseverance.  Doing the work.  That’s it.

7) I find most great authors, which includes you, hold Master’s degrees. Do you believe a writer needs a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree to succeed in writing good stories? If not, why do most great authors go through the process of a college education? What do you believe is the key to becoming a successful writer or author when someone doesn’t have a college degree?

Thanks, Pilar. I got a degree in writing because I needed a credential to teach writing, and I got that credential. . . but more, I learned discipline and to write to a deadline. I learned about critique and writing regularly. I learned how to give and receive criticism. I learned some things about craft, too.  But none of those things require a degree. Anyone can learn all of them through writing groups or online communities, through partnerships with other writers, or through a solid, self-imposed discipline toward writing.

And I would say that I don’t know that most authors do get a degree, at least not a degree in writing. Some of us do, but many, many writers I know have no college degree in writing and almost none have graduate degrees in writing. I know a writer who has a chemistry degree and another who works by day as a software developer. A degree isn’t necessary at all. It’s just a construct that helps us learn discipline and some of the tools in a concentrated way.

8) When you mentor and encourage others to write a thousand pages a day, what does that look like? Does journaling count? Or does the writing have to be something specific like working on a short story, novel or memoir?

A 1,000 words a day.  (Not a thousand pages. 🙂 )  Shawn Smucker suggested I try that, and it works well for me. For me, 1,000 words is pretty much all I have time for these days. So sometimes those words go toward a blog post, sometimes toward an interview like this one, sometimes toward my work in progress. Billy Coffey suggested that – the discipline of writing 1,000 words of anything a day is key, not necessarily what you write.

9) Do you consider listening to audiobooks reading? Do you believe there is a difference between reading physical books versus electronic or audiobooks for a writer?

I do think listening to audiobooks is reading, a different form of reading but reading nonetheless. The difference is in how we take in the story, but both are really valid ways of accessing stories. In audio, we listen to the way the sentences move on the page, to the trip of language, and while we do some of that when we read on the page, we are also more focused on the visual layout – paragraph length, the shape of the words visually (or via touch if we read in Braille.)  Neither is better or worse. They are just different ways of spending time with story.

10) You are an author, blogger, vlogger, editor, farmer, mother, etc. You have successfully achieved and attained so much in your life. What’s next? What are your goals now?

I have been given a lot of gifts in life, and one of my main goals is to steward them well. So that means making my family a priority in a new way now that Milo is with us. But it also means figuring out how to do that and still be responsible to my clients and readers . . . and to myself. I would not be a healthy person if I didn’t write, so one of my main goals is to figure out how to mother and still write.

11) I finished reading your latest book, Love Letters To Writersand I am now reading Discover Your Writing SelfBoth books are wonderful and encouraging. Are you working on anything new?

I am, but I’m not talking about it publicly yet. I’ve found that I need to let my books have some silence around them, especially at the beginning, so I’ll be saying more about that around my spaces in the coming months.

12) What do you enjoy writing more fiction or nonfiction and why?

Oh, I enjoy both, but my heartbeat is in creative nonfiction. There’s just something about wrapping words around an experience or bit of history that gives me energy and flexes my mental and creative muscles. I love that.

Thank you for a great interview, Andi.


Andi is a writer, editor, and farmer who lives at the edge of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband and son, four dogs, three cats, six goats, and thirty-two chickens. She writes regularly about the writing life at andilit.com. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Goodreads.

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Author Interview: Noire

I read and reviewed G-Spot by Noire a few months ago, and absolutely loved it. You can view my video review here. I was so intrigued by the story, that I reached out to Noire and asked her if she would be willing to do an interview. She graciously accepted. I think you will find her interview an absolute delight, and if you loved her before, I promise you, you will love her even more. I do. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for her as a woman and as an artist. She is someone who has overcome so much adversity in her life. She is an inspiration to me. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you, Noire.

1) Who is Noire?

I’m actually a very complex and reserved person, so it’s hard for people to pin me down. I’m a free spirit, a practical joker, a mother, a sister, a friend, a creative thinker, a writer, and an entrepreneur.

2) How was your childhood?

It definitely wasn’t the best. My mother had a lot of substance abuse issues, so as kids we were exposed to a lot of drama. That’s why my stories read like you’re watching a graphic movie. I grew up around drugs and crime, and when I was young I looked up to pretty girls who were getting caught up in that lifestyle. I write about what I’ve actually seen, and in some cases, I write about what I’ve experienced in my own life. I give a lot of thanks to my aunts because they loved us enough to step in and rescue us from my mother. They placed us in a more positive environment.

3) You are hailed as the Queen of Urban Erotica, when did you know you wanted to write and write Erotica

I started writing when I was a little girl, probably about six or seven, but I hid my stories because I was scared all the time. As I got older and matured, my writing matured too. When I was fourteen, my next-door neighbor bought me a five-subject notebook for school, and I filled it up by writing fantasies and mysteries. I also wrote a few comedies so I could make myself laugh. I think those early attempts at urban comedy shine through in my Sexy Little Liar series with the Misadventures of Mink LaRue.

4) Was there anyone in your life who encouraged you to write?

There was one time that my aunt found something that I had written and hidden in the back of a drawer. She read it with her mouth hanging open. I thought she was going to chastise me because of the sexual content, but she loved it and said she couldn’t believe I had such creative pen skills. It was a short story that I had written just for myself as usual, but my aunt is a writer too and she convinced me that the rest of the world needed to read my stories. Her encouragement was life-changing for me.

5) When did you decide to pen your first book? How long did it take?

It didn’t take that long because I didn’t know I was writing a book. I was just telling yet another creative story and letting it unfold in it’s own way and it’s own time, so there was no structure and no pressure. It was all original, and all at my own pace.

6) What do you believe shaped you as a writer?

It had to be studying people and their conversations that shaped me. I watched and listened to everything, even when it got me in trouble. I was that kid that got smacked for having my eyes in grown folk’s mouth or for listening to grown folk’s conversations. And I read everything I could get my hands on too, including the newspaper.

7) How do your ideas come to you?

My ideas come from the life I’ve lived and the environments I’ve been exposed to, the people I’ve known, and the situations I’ve witnessed. I went from admiring the so-called chickenheads, thots, and trap queens, to mentoring and counseling them and showing them that they have options and alternatives in life. My stories are basically big blinking warning signs. They’re cautionary tales about the pitfalls of the streets, and they lay out in black and white what can happen when you play dangerous games in this world.

8) Do you have a favorite place or space to write?

Yep! In my bed!

9) What is your creative process?

My process is internal. When I hear a character talking, I listen.

10) Do you have a writing ritual, routine or practice?

I do my best writing at night. I work all day and I stay up late writing. I don’t have any particular routine because characters are always in my head. I always hear them. It’s just a matter of finding the time to get what they’re saying down on paper.

11) What does your typical day look like?

I think my day looks like most people’s day. I have a job, so I work and put in my eight hours, and when I get off I take care of bizz on the home-front. I write at night for relaxation and because creating believable characters comes easy to me. I’m no longer a neglected or abused child, but even after all these years writing is like therapy to me.

12) Were you always a reader?

I’ve always read whenever I could get my hands on something. My mother, as deep as she was in her addiction, she had a love for books too, and that was one of the good things that she passed on to me. When I was growing up reading was my only escape from my reality. My mother actually eased up and let me be when she saw me reading. Maybe she respected the connection I had with words, who knows. But I used to steal magazines off the table in doctor’s offices and read other people’s newspapers when they left them on the train. I mean I just I ate up anything that had words printed on it. Words were sexy and attractive to my eyes.

13) What are some of your favorite books and authors?

There are just too many to name. But I like literary fiction, mysteries, and the classics best of all.

14) Do you listen to music when you write? What type of music do you listen to?

I love all music, so I switch things up depending on how I’m feeling and what I’m writing at the time. I listen to R&B, rap, house, old skool, and even classical music.

15) Have you ever struggled with fear, insecurity or rejection as a writer? If so, how did you deal with it?

I believe every writer goes through something, especially if they’re successful and good at what they do. I struggled a lot early on because I was sneaking and writing and hiding everything I wrote. I never expected anybody to like my stories and I didn’t know there were readers who were into what I was into. I was shocked when G-Spot: An Urban Erotic Tale was published and readers absolutely loved it. There was nothing on the shelves like G-Spot back in 2005 when it was published. G-Spot became an instant classic, and although you can find a lot of knock-off copycat stories based on G and Juicy today, back then they were original and unique characters and nobody had ever written a story anything like it before.

16) What gets you through hard times? How do you overcome adversity?

Prayer and laughter! I pray a lot and I laugh a lot. I don’t take myself too seriously, so I definitely don’t focus on adversity. I believe in the power of the universe. I try to treat people the right way and I surround myself with positive people who are going in my direction. Everybody else gets a smile and a wave as I pass them by.

17) Was there one thing that changed the course of your life?

Yep. Being rescued from my mother and taken in by my aunts. Those women didn’t just change my life, they saved it.

18) If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

Too many things to list! But then again, maybe nothing. I like myself and I’m cool with where I am in this life. All of my mistakes have become life experiences, and I value each and every one of them.

19) Did you ever imagine becoming as successful as you are?

No, because I never set out to share my writing with the world. But I actually don’t think my literary successes are my greatest accomplishments. I think the powerful relationships that I build with other women, and the mentoring I do to help children and teenagers are more important than anything else. The writing accolades I get are fun, but it’s the real life work that I do face-to-face from my heart that means the most to me.

20) What do you want readers to take away from your books?

I’ve been crowned the QUEEN of Urban Erotica and the word QUEEN stands for Quality Urban Erotica Every Novel. When a reader closes one of my books I want them to feel like they’ve been on a helluva ride. I want them to recognize the quality writing, the detailed plots, the 3D characters, and the human emotions that my pen game invokes. My motto is #DemandQuality and I want my readers to value what I give them because I don’t short change or cheat them out of a dime. I give them their money’s worth. Because that’s what literary Queens do.

21) What inspires or motivates you?

I’m inspired by life itself because I know how short it is. I’m happy and I’m inspired by love. By children! By laughter! And definitely by sex!

22) What is your vision or dream?

My dream is to see young people, especially young ladies, embrace their power and strive for what they want in this world. I envision a world where my child can dare to dream and to create her own prosperity and happiness, regardless of what it is.

23) Do you have any hobbies?

 Most people don’t know I’m a belly dancer. I love moving my body and I find my hips and abs very sensual. Of course my abs ain’t what they used to be, but I can still wind it up!

24) What do you believe constitutes good writing? How does one perfect their craft?

I think good writing is careful writing. You perfect it by understanding the written language, developing your skills, studying the craft, understanding the concepts of literature, and being able to lay out a plot in a rational and believable manner. In short, you write with skill, but you write from your gut.

25) If you could change one thing in this pen game, what would it be?

I’m usually not one to put restrictions on people, but the pen game has become so polluted with trash that it’s hard to sort through the garbage heaps and find good writing these days. I think books should have to be sold without a cover. So many gullible people get caught up by the pretty images that it’s almost embarrassing. I’ve been presented with books that have the hottest artwork ever on the covers. I mean, sexy chicks, urban scenery, slick fonts, bold colors, the whole nine.

And then I open them up and start reading and I can’t believe my damn eyes. A misspelling every other word, a plot that makes no damn sense, or something that has already been written thirty other times in a hundred other books. Or, characters who all sound and act alike, and no real story being told at all. Just a bunch of drawn-out scenes with nothing happening. I think we should rip all the glamorous covers off and leave just the title and the author’s name. Let the book stand on that!

26) What do you like most about writing and what do you like least?

Most? I like plotting. I have a good feel for it. I like constructing plot twists that look like pretzels. Least? Editing!

27) Do your life experiences play into what you write about in your books?

They sure do. I write about things I’ve seen, things I’ve heard, and whether good and bad, I also write about things that I’ve experienced.

28) How did your awesome book, “G-Spot” come about?

 I grew up around a few girls just like Juicy and I decided I wanted to tell their stories. I started writing G-Spot after I witnessed something foul going down with a young girl who was close to me. I tried to school her, but at the time she just couldn’t hear me. So I wrote her story and let her read it. It opened her eyes and blew her mind. I’m happy to say that she’s a college graduate and an entrepreneur today.

 29) What’s next? Any new projects on the horizon?

Yes! I’m working on a hot project with artist Reem Raw and I’m loving the way our ink blends and our words flow together. It’s a serial street novel called EMPIRE STATE OF MINEZ and it has one of the slickest and most elaborate plot twists that I’ve ever written. It’s part street banga and part urban love story. I can guarantee that you’ll love it.

30) Lastly, what advice can you share from your own personal experiences to a novice writer?

My advice to young writers is to figure out why you’re in the game. If you’re only in the game for the quick money, and you’re kicking out shitty book after shitty little book with real pretty covers, then enjoy it while you can because it’s not gonna last forever. You can only fool people until they get up on you. Eventually your disrespect for the craft of writing will turn readers off and they’ll stop going in their pockets to throw good money away on your bad shit.

But if you’re writing books because you love this profession and telling stories is your passion, then keep right on doing what you’re doing, even if nobody buys a single one of your books. All words motivated by passion are good words, and your voice deserves to be heard!

Thank you so much, Noire.

NOIRE is editor-in-chief of NoireMagazine.com, the Queen of Urban Erotica, the #1 Essence® bestselling author of Unzipped, Hittin’ the Bricks, G-Spot, Candy Licker, Thug-A-Licious, Baby Brother (with 50 Cent), Thong on Fire, Hood, novellas in Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless and Maneater, and the editor of a collection of urban erotic quickies, From the Streets to the Sheets. She is also the author of the first urban erotic serial novel, G-Spot 2: The Seven Deadly Sins. Visit Noire online at AskNoire.com, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author Interview – Carolyn Weber

Today, I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite authors, Carolyn Weber. I discovered her after reading her first book, a memoir, Surprised by Oxford.

I have a penchant for memoirs, and this one was by far, my favorite.

Carolyn Weber came out with another fabulous book, Holy Is The Day which I reviewed recently.

I’m excited to share my first author interview with you.

When did you know you were a writer?

I don’t think there was a “moment” – although I do remember writing as a child but hiding my work because the teacher didn’t believe me when I tried to write a novel in grade 1. I’ve been an academic writer for some time because of my professorial career, but when I finally wrote my conversion memoir a few years ago (“Surprised by Oxford”), well, that was a turning point, and I’ve enjoyed writing more specifically as a faith walk, and hopefully as a praise since then.

What are your favorite books and why?

All types of books qualify as favorites for me – I don’t have one particular type. Though I do love many of the classics, and not just because I should. I honestly do find something enduring about them, and an appeal to aspects of our deepest humanity. Jane Eyre, The Brothers Karamazov, The Odyssey, Paradise Lost … they are all electric.

When did you decide to write your memoir, Surprised by Oxford?

Once I was tenured, and it was relatively “safer” to write a spiritual memoir in an academic environment. But by then, the story had percolated long enough too – I had promptings for ages from students and friends. So I finally sat down on my sabbatical and wrote it.

Was it your dream to become a professor or become a writer?

It was always my dream to teach, from as far back as I can remember. And I love to study writers, I love to read. Writing now across many genres, and pushing myself as a writer, has felt like “walking through the looking glass,” so to speak. I now know more intimately what the writers I had studied for so long had to actually go through – from the thrill of inspiration to the icy exposure of criticism. 

I enjoyed reading your new book, Holy is the Day? Can you tell us a little bit about how this book came about?

For some time, I had been sitting with the notion of what does it truly mean to be in God’s presence? When I discovered I was pregnant with a surprise baby, and one who potentially faced health problems, the writing process became a sort of prayer process in itself of trusting our God.

You touched a little bit about your leaving teaching? Do you think you will return to teaching English one day? Or do you want to just focus on writing?

I will always be a teacher. I can’t root it out, in spite of me. But for this life season, the writing and the parenting keep me busy enough.

In Surprised by Oxford, it chronicles your life and how you came to know the Lord. Do you find there is a conflict between being a Christian and being a professor?

No conflict exists in the actual teaching itself, or in the reading of books. Those things only facilitate my inner conversation with God, and my outer living of faith. Any serious conflicts, I have found, arise from bureaucracy and the fearful, but that is nothing new.

Do you find Christian writers to be mediocre? If so, why do you think this is the case and how do you think this can be corrected?

I think mediocre writers, like any other profession, exist everywhere. Christian writing can seem particularly beleaguered because there are strains and judgments placed upon it from within the church as well as from without. I know, for instance, that when I went to publish my memoir, some Christian publishers won’t publish profanity, point blank (even if it’s used carefully, not gratuitously). Or they want you to edit out gay people, or drinking. I can understand some concerns but overall this seems ridiculous. Life is where it is lived; Jesus showed us that by his very example among us. But then on the other hand, many secular publishers won’t touch a manuscript which takes Jesus seriously with a ten foot pole. So what is the Christian writer to do? Which God to serve, so to speak? I think this can often stilt or deform even the most well-intentioned writing. If we are each honest and forthright about our own stories before God, then I do believe He will use them where they are most needed.

What are your goals and aspirations as a writer?

I hope to encourage readers in their relationship with God but also let them know it’s okay to ask the big (or little) questions. Our God is not a fragile God. I would like to explore this strength and nuance and presence through many types of genres. The well is bottomless!

Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer?

Pray. Pray when you pick up the pen, or strike the keyboard. Pray when you write, and edit and slash and cut. Pray when you have gushed out all you have for that day. And pray over the final piece. That what was in you seeking God would find its home in another who also needed it. That your writing would bring peace and praise. And that no other worldly static would interfere with your joy in the word.

Thank you, Carolyn Weber for this wonderful interview. I look forward to reading your next book.

Carolyn Weber is an author, speaker and professor. She has taught literature to undergraduates for 15 years, most recently as associate professor of Romantic Literature at Seattle University. As the Canadian Commonwealth scholar for literature, she completed her M.Phil and Doctoral degrees at Oxford University, and later served as the first female Dean of St. Peter’s College, Oxford.Carolyn lives in London, Ontario Canada with her husband and their 4 children.

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