What inspired you to write this book?
I enjoyed my time writing the first episodes of Claim Me and Desire Me Only. I decided to write a series all in one book instead of trying to rush a novella out that felt incomplete from the standpoint it only gave one perspective. I also wanted something noirish for today’s reader.
What can we expect from you in the future?
After Cherry Punch, I tackle The Magnificent Mile which is the name of the more high-brow area off Downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Unfortunately, an incident featured in the book, as with many of my books, did happen. Poor Brother Muhhamad, is all I can say. I wound up take over his class and that student was still in the classroom.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
Many of the characters in Cherry Punch exist in one capacity or another. Ray Ray, Sherry, and Benny are all based off living breathing humans still in the area. Oddly, we are all about a decade off in age from each other with me being the oldest. And yes, Big Nat also still exists. We are all Maywoodians.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Cherry Punch is named after a medicinal strain that can be bought in most weed shops. I was looking to create an urban Pineapple Express and this idea came up. Cornell, and especially Harold Jasper both fixtures in the area. Neither ended well.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
My act two was by far the most adventurous endeavor I have ever partaken. It didn’t take me long to work it out and I wanted that portion to go on forever. I easily could have written another chapter on that arc.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Sherry Rose and Benny Freeman are two nose to the grindstone characters tied to the town they were raised in, but not each other. Then fate officially brings them and their ambitions together. They are like most of the people I grew up with who never stopped working even when social security told them the signpost ahead is where they get off. Cherry has some serious issues about the people she falls in with and Benny is put into the fold by relation.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
The Curse of Black Hawk’s Treasure is named after an actual event that took place in Illinois. I found the legend which is also where our hockey team got its name in a Constitution book my district uses every year for our eighth graders.
Who designed your book covers?
Recently, I have worked with three people: Iesha Bree, Moon Bey, and Markayla Blake. Prior to that, I left it to B. Love.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I discovered I am developing the legs to tell longer cohesive stories.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Yes, I would like my readers to allow me to change up on the genres. I will not let them down, plus you will always recognize the voice, the tale will just come from a different angle.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
At this time, the readers I have know I do not create comic book characters. My characters and their story arcs are very real, may be too real. I don’t include the fantastic in my novels, but am leaning toward that, but this novel I believe no matter where you grew up, you know these people and their motives. You know what drives them about as much as you know what drives you. You aren’t afraid to see yourself and your story written by someone who cares about those people especially since they look and act like you. Even Ted Sarandos knows some of these people.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Plenty of screenplays, but most if not all my novels have been published. B. Love has been very generous in allowing her writers to find their voice and their audience.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Cherry Punch, of course. Beware of the contact.
What did you edit out of this book?
There are numerous back stories I had between Sherry and Benny first meetings. Colonel Parker had me remove them. I wanted to move them, but maybe I will revisit.
Is there an writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I would love to have had an opportunity to sit down with Elmore Leonard and pick his brain. His transition from Westerns to gritty urban novels where the good guy and the bad guy can be hard to discern and harder to root for whether it be Out of Sight or Hombre. Get Shorty or Last Stand at Saber River, his protagonists and antagonists stand out and could easily switch sides.