Today, I am very pleased to sit down with prolific author and blogger Yecheilyah Ysrayl. Her blog is one that I look forward to reading every day because of its positive and inspirational message.
She is going to tell us about her work, her inspiration and a bit about herself in this special edition of 20 Questions. Please enjoy.
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was twelve years old when I first realized I wanted to be a writer. My sister and I went to live with our dad and I don’t remember what I read, but something clicked and I just had this strong desire to write stories of my own and poetry.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
It depends on what kind of book it is, but in general it takes me about 6 months-1 year to complete the first draft of a book.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
My work schedule is pretty much reading, taking notes, and writing. I do lots of praying and mediation as well so sometimes I may not write anything for my story specifically and just spend the time reading, researching, and taking notes. I do have my manuscript open however just in case something hits me; I’ll need to be able to write that down right there. Otherwise that’s typically the schedule, lots of reading, praying, and taking notes to get a visual layout of how to implement new ideas, or potential ideas, into the story.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing quirk would have to be that I have to proofread my work in PDF format. For some strange reason it’s easier for me to find mistakes that way. I also talk to myself with an occasional stare out in space. LOL. I’m not staring though I’m thinking. Of course, that’s what all the crazy people say ; ).
Q5) How are your books published?
I’m an Indie baby! My books are Self-Published. I have established my own Self-Publishing Company, Literary Korner Publishing, which I’m nourishing with the hope to get it going real soon, far as accepting clients and things.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
I’m inspired mostly by African American literature, slave narratives, and history in general. There’s just so much black history and history in general that has not been explored or elaborated on that makes for a constant feeding of my creative juices, sorta speak.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book in 2008 on behalf of Professional and Technical Writing at Chicago State University. The project was a collection of essays I’d written on Racism and Discrimination in America as the result of an assignment by my professor and I published it. It’s not something I shared openly or that I speak a lot about but if we’re talking about the very first work this would be it. I did give copies to some friends and family members but that’s about it. Otherwise, I wrote my first collection of poetry in 2010. I was 23 years old and it was a very exciting moment for me. I didn’t know much then about Self-Publishing but I was elated to have completed a real book as I called it. It had always been my dream to publish my poetry so it was very exciting.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing I’m either studying scripture, involved in ministry work on behalf of my organization, reading, researching or Net-Flixin it lol.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
I don’t even know if I have a favorite, but if I had to pick one, the most powerful read for me has to be Richard Wright’s Native Son.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
What do they think? They love it! My fam is really supportive of my writing and my career choice. I think because I’ve always been into reading and writing it’s not a surprise to them that I’m an author. It’s almost expected of me to write. Not that I do it at all because of that expectation but you know, writing is my passion so my family and friends are very supportive.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
One of the most surprising things that I’ve learned in creating my books is all of the work that goes into the finished product. Those who are not authors or writers at all may think that we write a book and then we’re finished and this is even what I thought in the beginning. It is so not like that! I mean, finishing a book is exciting but it’s really just the beginning. Today, I’m still finding out more concerning the whole book making business but I’m enjoying the journey.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
It has to be writer’s block. I hate writer’s block most of the writing process because I don’t like not having direction and guidance in my life period. I like to know where I’m going in general. I’m a very organized and specific person. I need to know exactly what and where, so I really hate being stuck. Especially when I want to write, that drives me crazy.
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
To date I’ve written eight books and my favorite has to be The Aftermath because it’s my first novel. You won’t find it on my website because I’m currently revising it, but that’s my favorite. I worked really hard on it and it was a really long project. For my first novel it took a really long time to produce.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
Just keep writing. I know it sounds simple and a little bit of a cliché but most clichés are popular because they’re true. Becoming better at anything doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years. Keep producing material no matter how much it falters or even if it succeeds, keep writing. Endurance is very important when it comes to writing. An author cannot expect to get it right the first time or the second time. They most certainly can, but very few people produce best sellers out the gate. It’s the people who keep at it that eventually do. The person who continues to fine tune and produce despite everything else, this is the person who comes out on top in the end. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that writing is more than creating and publishing books, but I’ve learned there’s a strategy, a technique if you will, that is involved in writing stories people want to read. I didn’t know this in the beginning but it is something I have grown to understand in my experience. What that strategy is can only be learned by way of consistent production. You have to constantly produce and monitor the outcome, constantly sharpening your skill as you go along and that can only be done by studying it. It took me years of writing to produce something that got my books the exposure it needed and into the hands of people outside of my immediate circle and it is not to say my writing sucks, but that I really had to study this field and keep producing. There’s really no other way. So for authors, or aspiring authors, you really have to keep producing, be patient, and persist.
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
I do get feedback from my readers and I’m very thankful for the support I do receive and that most of it is positive. Umm, it’s a little weird right now to speak about what they say! (Laughs) In brief, my readers tend to really be taken aback by the information I present and the different style of my writing in general. I see my story as a movie in my head and I write this way, very visual. As a result, many people enjoy the emotion I put into my characters, that they can see inside their heads and really feel what they are experiencing in that moment.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
My preferred reading audience is African Americans, Women, and Young Adults. My passion for the black experience is really strong. I have a deep love and compassion for black people and the awakening of this group will always be at the top of my list. I will always produce work that can speak to us in some way, to the lost sheep if you will. Black history and its contributions to America are just too rich not to share. My next preferred reading group is women in general, across races because as a woman I cannot help but write from this perspective and for this group. I would like to write more from a male perspective but the reality is that I’m not a man so most of what I write is going to be predominantly female because I really agree that you should write what you know and I know what its like to be a woman, our struggles, our pains, and our emotions. So it’s just natural for me to appeal to the woman. In addition, I’ve found a real passion for helping to uplift and educate women in general. I’ve also noticed that I write better when it’s from the perspective of a young adult! I didn’t intentionally do this, but I think that my love for children and for young people have seeped into my writing!
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
A good story for me comprises a combination of well-developed characters and how the author incorporates their life and their struggles into the book. For instance, there has to be some kind of flaw or problem the main character(s) deals with. How the author incorporates this into the story and how the character comes to have this problem solved, not solved, or how they are changed because of this situation is what really makes for a good story for me. Primarily, I think it just comes down to very well developed characters and plot.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was a child I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. My career choice, what I would do, never changed. It has evolved in ways but in general it has always been the same. For instance, in High School I wanted to study Journalism. So, writer. When I grew up I wanted to be a writer.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
You can find my books on my Author Website at: www.literarykornerpublishing.net,
As well as my Amazon page at:
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
Sure, of course. Below is an excerpt from Beyond The Colored Line. In this scene, Tommy discovers Stella is passing for white when her friend Annie spots them on the street.
“Annie looked Tommy up and down, while he held onto the door, as if she had just spotted a piece of trash on the ground that must be disposed of quickly.
“You must be the servant. I’m Anne, how do you do?”
Tommy let the door slip from his hands, closing quietly as Annie held out her hand; covered in a crisp white glove made of finer cotton than spread across his kitchen table. Originally from Mississippi, Tommy’s family was the descendants of sharecroppers. Silently he wondered how many barrels of cotton it took to make it glow in the darkness. He looked at Stella, staring deeply into the hazel eyes he once adored. And the reality of the present situation lit a fire inside of his chest. He hoped he wouldn’t fall down dead from a heart attack. It would be a shame for his dad to find out his son died ‘cause of a thing as a woman’s glove. Tommy said nothing, just kept his eyes fixed on hers. If she could, she would hide behind the shame evident in the grin she tried desperately to hold together; the grin that began to crack and to fall apart under the pressure. Tommy was the closest person to her and yet, she had not revealed to him the truth. They talked about everything and yet that thing which set to murder her where she stood held her snug to the captivity of social acceptance and privilege. How could she explain to the love of her life that she was ashamed of the very thing that drew her to him? That it was his dark skin against the brightness of his eyes and the Negro Heritage in his blood; in both their bloods. Needless to say Stella didn’t want to look away, but she couldn’t help but to feel his eyes shooting little prickly darts into her skin, and it was beginning to burn.”
Born in 1987 on the south side of Chicago, Yecheilyah Ysrayl is an author and Spoken Word Artist.
Yecheilyah started writing short stories and poetry at the age of twelve and attended Harper High School (International Language Career Academy) Robert Morris College (Computer Basics / Administration), Chicago State University (Professional and Technical Writing), and Everest College (Medical Assistance / Phlebotomist).
As an artist, Yecheilyah is an incorporation of spiritual critique, honesty and an authentic analysis of African American identity. She’s Self-Published 8 books going back to 2010 and her blog, The PBS Blog, is the recipient of eight blog awards. Her most notable work, The Stella Trilogy, won her an official Authors Appreciation Award by her readers and supporters at the first Stella Trilogy Book Signing in Atlanta, GA. early this* year. Yecheilyah seeks to create work that promotes healthy research into the cultural identity, laws, customs and traditions of the African American for self-revolution and advancement. Furthermore, she seeks to release all people from the limited ways in which we tend to think and to feel.
The Stella Trilogy
Between Slavery and Freedom (Stella Book 1)
Beyond The Colored Line (Stella Book 2)