Kamichi Jackson, author of “K My Name is Kendra” has invited you to step into her world for a little bit and learn about her and her writing style.
Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?
Sharon Draper and Sharon Flake. I love how they develop their stories. Their books are well-paced and realistic, which allows the reader time to get to know and relate to the characters in a way the makes the reading experience more enjoyable. I aimed for that while writing my most recent book, a young adult novel called “K My Name Is Kendra”.
Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?
I love my 15-year-old character Kendra! There is so much of her in me and I was able to connect with her on a very emotional level. It was hard, in fact, to write her story sometimes. I had to walk away several times over several months. I even cried every now and then. But hers was a story I felt needed to be told, so I kept writing and developing her. I think she’ll resonate with a lot of teens and young adults, especially in the African-American community.
Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.
While not graphic in nature, there was a scene in which Kendra is raped by a relative. That was very hard to write! I kept imagining the fear a girl would feel in that situation, and it saddened me. And the aftermath of that event–it was painful to watch Kendra suffer in silence for several chapters.
What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?
I love that I can express things I might not express in real life. I love building fictitious worlds and environments. It might be a control thing! In real life, I may not necessarily have control over events and situations. But in my writing, I do. And that’s quite cathartic.
What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?
Just write! And don’t ever throw anything away. You never know where or when you might be able to repurpose a scene or some dialog you’ve written that didn’t fit a particular story you’re working on. Take those words and file them away somewhere. You might write something in the future that calls for that scene or those words. You never know!
Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.
When I’m working on a manuscript, I write longhand on regular lined notebook paper. It’s weird, but I love the crinkle noise the paper makes as I’m filling it with words. I also love the random notes I make in the margins. Some are book-related. Others might be a phone number I jotted down if I answered a call while writing. Could be anything. I just like looking back on those notes later on and seeing what was on my mind at the time, or who I was in contact with at the time.
Was being an author something you always wanted to do?
No. I never knew I was a writer. I’ve read thousands of books over the years, but I never imagined that I would ever be telling my own stories. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I discovered that I even had an interest in creative writing. That was when I decided to write and publish my first book.
Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?
“Kendra, I don‘t know if you realize what a great gift you‘ve been given. I’m amazed at your talent every single time you hand in a creative writing assignment. But this here is really exciting for me because I don’t usually get to spend much time offering constructive criticism on my students’ work. I get so many papers, and I mainly have to concentrate on grading them for grammar and sentence structure. Rarely do I get to edit for story development. This is special, Kendra. Who knows, I could be working with the next Maya Angelou. You never know.”
“That old lady from that Tyler Perry movie? The one who recited the poem at the wedding in the end?”
“Oh, Kendra, please tell me you know more about Maya Angelou than that,” Miss Wilson says, uncrossing her legs and perching on the edge of her chair like she’s about to jump up.
“I mean, I loved that poem,” I say. I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know anything else about the woman.
“Well, let me introduce you to a literary legend then,” she says, getting to her feet and crossing the room. She stops in front of a bookcase in the back corner and pulls a couple books from one of the top shelves.
Want to keep up-to-date with all things Kamichi Jackson? Check her out on Goodreads!