Interview with Taneisha Grace, author of “God, Love & All My Soul”

How important is research to you when writing a book?

Before it wasn’t a big deal to me. This was before I learned that research is a part of perfecting one’s craft. I had the common misconception that I could just sit down and begin writing a book without doing any research. In the past year alone, I have learned that I was wrong. Although my first novel had so many mistakes, pulling it off the shelf to rewrite and eventually re-release has been one of my greatest decisions.

What works best for you?

I prefer to write everything out. I notice that I catch more grammatical errors that way as opposed to typing.

When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was a little girl, maybe eight or nine. I used to read my mother’s poetry and my favorite was “Black on Black Crime,” it was deep, inviting and moving. I knew then that I wanted to write too.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?

I used to only write when I felt inspired or was going through something. I knew I had to change though if I wanted to become a writer full time. I’m still working on this goal.

What inspires you to write?

In all honesty, life. Everything that I see or go through inspires me in some form or fashion. Watching other people’s stories inspire some of my characters and I think of how I would want my characters to react to situations but differently than what I see in real life.

How often do you write?

I have a goal to write a little bit everyday but at least a minimum of three times a week.

Do you aim to complete a set number of words or pages each day?

When I do write, a minimum of 500 words for a novel or play but for poetry, I just go with the flow.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?

I can’t speak for all writers but I am a little bit or maybe a lot if my husband speaks for me. I really love writing, reading or spending time with my family. I have a few people I call friends but most of them know I would rather be home cuddled up to a good book or writing that go out or anything. However I do like a bit of adventure from time to time but I usually do that alone too unless my family wants to come.

Do you proofread or edit your own work or pay someone to do it for you?

I used to think that editing was not important but I have learned from my mistakes. I have been paying someone to edit my work lately.

Have you ever let any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

Yes, all of them. After releasing my first book, I realized that editing was important and getting the story just right. I want to put out my best work. So I have been taking my time to edit, read and then send to an editor and start the cycle over.

If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be and why?

All of them. On a serious note All She Wanted because that was my first novel. It has so many mistakes and then when I read it, I always feel as if there is more to the story. I wrote a good outline to what could be an amazing love story.

What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

Aside from the cover, the content and overall message. You want readers to really get the message if nothing else. I hate reading a book and still coming out with so many questions or reading a book and being confused after the first few chapters or asking what is the point. Tell the story but let the readers know what the goal is. Don’t keep them guessing.

Do you believe the book cover plays an importance in the selling process?

Absolutely! Boring covers tend to leave the potential buyer leaving the book on the shelf. I often look at the cover and if it looks interesting, then I read the back.

Do you attend literary lunches or events?

I haven’t yet with my work schedule, but I hope to in the near future. Most events fall on weekends where I have to work but I’m hoping for a career change that will allow me to attend more events and network more.

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

Do I only get to choose one? Lol. There are just so many. Harry Potter, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Alex Cross, and so many others. From the time I began reading as a child up to now, I have been inspired by so many writers. My favorites are on my bookshelf and inspire me to write and tell my story.

Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?

Don’t stop writing just because things happen. Write every day and eventually you will have a completed novel or play.

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

Write even when you don’t feel like it. Write when you have writers block, just choose a random topic and keep it moving.

Do your novels carry a message?

Each novel I have begun writing has a message. For example the first published version of “All She Wanted” has the message that love will come again. Don’t give up on love because there is someone for everyone, you just have to be willing to try again after being hurt.

Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?

Currently I am writing a play called “Finding God” as well as a novel “Silent Company.” The stories are total opposite of each other. One is about a husband trying to understand his wife and he finally understands what she had been talking about when she goes into a coma. In the other a husband that disrespects his wife and it takes another man to come along and show her that she is worth more. They become friends through school but her husband knows him also.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

I put everything that I have into my books when I am writing. Most are derived from real events. For example “All She Wanted” is about a character that was stood up at the altar. In real life a guy I dated broke off our engagement after I had already ordered the invitations and were preparing to send them out. I take events that happen in my life and then build a fictional story around it.

How realistic are your books?

I want my books to be as real as they can be. I want my characters to be relatable and understanding. I try to make them resemble things that couples go through in real life. Every couple doesn’t have the same story and neither does every single person.

It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?

Yes, this is what has inspired most of my writing. Getting my heart broken has made me transparent through my poetry in a way that inspires other people to talk about what they have been through also.

From all that we have been hearing and seeing in the movies, most writers are alcoholics. Your views on that?

I think this has some truth to it but it’s up to the writer. I used to drink heavily when I began writing my first poetry book and novel. I see a great difference in my first poetry book and the second because in the first I drank way too much but still composed and in the second, I had slowed down to drinking just occasionally. Overall, not every writer is an alcoholic although that is how we are portrayed.

Do you like traveling or staying indoors?

I like a little bit of both to be honest. I love traveling and going new places to take in the sights or new cultures. It is invigorating and gives me ideas for my writing.

Do you reply back to your fans and admirers personally?

I manage my own Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, etc, so yes. If someone has a question or comments, I try to answer within 48 hours.

Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?

Yes. I market all of my books myself via social media, book giveaways, and eventually other venues.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

I think this a great way to network and meet other people. I have done a few poetry books and two inspirational books. I had fun getting to know the other writers.

Did the thought to give up writing ever occur to you?

A few times when I felt like it was too much or that my stories would never come together. I thought about giving up after seeing how many mistakes I made in writing but then I learned that in order to be better I had to learn more about perfecting my craft and practice writing more. The stories were there, I was just telling it the wrong way.

How did it feel when your first book got published?

I was excited and filled with so much joy and happiness. I was stationed overseas at the time and my copy of “The Pain of Love” came in the mail. That’s what made it real to me.

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