80 books last year, in 2016, predominantly children’s e-books. It’d be easy to say I did it because I’m a mother and love to read my child bedtime stories, but my kid is 12 and surpassed the stage my books’ influence would have wowed her. I hardly had the opportunity to read to her when she was young, working for Uncle Sam, sailing the open seas of terrorism, if you catch my drift. I wrote these children’s books as a therapy, to nurture the child in her and myself when I lost her, but she came back to me, and I am whole again and can close that chapter of my life and write anew. Maybe I will tell that story some day.
Prior to that I wrote a book entitled Food for the Soul. I wrote it to better understand why my marriage failed, as I was going through a divorce and separated from my husband at the time. Because I was working on my Masters in Management in Business, I decided to apply some of what I learned in the business aspect or world, to my book, and make it multifaceted, thinking in terms of Walmart, so to speak, your one stop shop for everything. So I not only wrote on the topic of marriage in Food for the Soul, but I added recipes to make it function as a cook book, I included statistics and articles related to African-Americans, I even included poetry, essays, and did a poll, surveying over 100 African-American men and women on what they both love and hate about each other, because it’s a conversation we need to keep having to improve our relationships with each other. It was as if I wrote it all in one sitting, even though it is Bible sized, at 614 pages. It was a life-altering experience. It delves into and takes a harder look at the statistic as to why 70% of African-American women are single, from all sides of the fence and examines African-American relationships as a whole.
Prior to that, I wrote Serpentine Tongue, my first published book, which features poetry, two plays, collages and sketches from my earlier days. It touches on so many issues and topics related to women, to include: spirituality, the perils of love, sex, abuse, humor, enigma, addiction, lesbianism, beauty, poverty, HIV, growth, slavery, relationships and adversity and is 300 pages. I have always considered myself a poet first. I was mesmerized by the Harlem Renaissance Poets, when I came across the book on my parents’ bookshelf at the age of 11. At that moment I knew I wanted to be a poet, reading Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, and Countee Cullen. English was my favorite subject, so I therefore majored in it and acquired a Bachelors of Arts degree in English. In Middle School and High School we read the plays of Shakespeare, The Canterbury Tales, Oedipus Rex, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Knights of the Round Table, The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights and The Odyssey to name a few. In College we read excerpts by Lord Byron, Shakespeare, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Oscar Wilde, Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Olaudah Equiano, Jean Toomer, Edgar Allen Poe and Gwendolyn Brooks to name a few. These were just some of my influences.
The thing I loved most about poetry, is that it’s free verse, so to speak. You can say whatever you want, however you want, be it eloquent or vulgar, classical and astute or matter-of-factly, there are no rules as there are to other kinds of writing, and I loved the emotion, ideas and feelings poetry conveyed and perhaps most of all the ambiguity, that its meaning can be left up to interpretation. Up until recently, I’ve always written poetry and plays and slipped into the arena of non-fiction with Food for the Soul, but now I am trying my hand in fiction for the first time ever with the Relica Enchanted series, and it’s actually writing itself. Of course I infused it with poetry, and tried to keep it interesting with a pinch of erotica and romance, a cup of horror, a dash of adventure and fantasy and a couple of spoonfuls of action and suspense, all to make for a delicious take, on a story that is being told to me sporadically through the keyboard. I suppose every author writes with a different approach, some planning out the whole structure of a story before hand, knowing who the characters are prior to the story and filling in their sentiments and unearthing their actions. I did have a story-line, but it some how took on a life of its own, and characters emerged introducing themselves and their journeys to me, as if by osmosis. All I could say in return, as I will say to you, is, “Hello, nice to meet you, my name is Maryanne, and I can’t wait to write your story…”