Monday, November 17, 2008

FEATURED AUTHOR: Kayona Ebony Brown

Kayona Ebony Brown was raised in Washington, DC. Her innate ability to portray reality with an artist’s edge was honed in the Literary and Media Arts Department of Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Tenth Letter is the debut title of several books and screenplays being produced by her company, Brown’sTone Industries Incorporated – each adhering to a policy of delivering socially responsible (creative and non-negative) art. Prior to launching Brown’sTone Industries Incorporated, Brown was an on-air personality and Music Director for public radio.

Tenth Letter

J is independent, career-driven, single and proud of it. She’s a journalist for a popular magazine and her latest assignment is an artist/entrepreneur whose D.C. gallery opening drew major attention. Surprisingly, she finds him quiet. Aloof. Cold. J really wants to know why he’s acting so arctic on such a hot night for his career. Always the one to get the exclusive, she was up for the challenge to break the ice. What she didn’t know, though, was that she would find herself melting. Can J handle the spotlight? Or, will she write it off as just another one-night affair?


What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

Honestly, anything that can help them in their life somehow. TENTH LETTER is a story that offers a fresh perspective; it uses three-dimensional characters to bring that perspective to life. So it’s a story full of messages and perhaps advice. I don’t want to point out specific things that I think someone should take away from the story. But I do want them to take something away from it after they put it down.

What did you learn while writing this book?

It’s funny because the writing process has always been therapeutic for me and I think that’s something I might’ve discovered while writing this book. But it was something I discovered in hindsight. Living vicariously through self-created people and putting myself in their situations evokes thoughts that I wouldn’t have otherwise even considered.

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

Well, I have a problem with focusing on what I don’t have instead of what I do have. It’s something I’m learning to deal with right now, but it’s hard. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to say “I could do this or that if I had more money…” Every business could benefit from having more money. The hardest part for me has been realizing the potential in both the tangible and intangible resources that I have.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

I’m just a messenger. My writing comes from a place much more significant than me. I don’t just say, “Okay, I’m going to write now.” I’ve tried and it doesn’t work the same. I don’t know about other writers, but I don’t just spit out anything for you. I kinda wish more non-writers could tell the difference.

Our theme this month is Time Management. How do you do to manage your writing time?

I don’t. Like I said, what I do really isn’t about me. I can’t dictate when I write; I just have to be prepared to write when I’m supposed to. For me, nothing else is really more important than this. Everything else right now is secondary, so if anything, time for other stuff has to be adjusted according to my writing.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

I try not to really focus on what was or wasn’t a product of the past. What’s interesting though is that while writing TENTH LETTER, I had the ability to focus solely on the present, which is something I’m trying to get better at doing now. I didn’t think about how I was going to publish the book or how I would market it; I focused only on writing what I needed to write at that very moment. Nothing else. So it’s weird because, as I look back, I realize that I was present-focused then unconsciously; however, it’s a trait that I’m consciously trying to practice now in many areas of my life.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I think about quitting all the time. As I mentioned before, I sometimes consider the things I don’t have, like the resources to make this thing go further than it has. But one of my greatest influences said, “When it feels like living’s harder than dying, for me givin’ up’s way harder than trying…” And it’s true. I can’t stop because I don’t know just how close I could be to the goal.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

One thing I’m still learning is balance. When you love to do something so much, it can become almost addictive; you want to do it all the time, and then once you start it’s hard to stop, you don’t want to sleep… But during those times for me when I’m not supposed to be writing, (between projects when I don’t have anything to write at the moment) I can get frustrated. Doing any one thing too much without a significant break can be detrimental. The time you spend not writing is just as integral to your art as the time you spend doing it. My best stuff comes when my tank has been refueled and I’m refreshed. I would advise any new writer to remember that you are not a machine. Then again, even machines need breaks.

What are you thankful for this year?

I have huge, huge dreams of doing great things and being a great person. What I’m most thankful for this year is that I’m not there yet. I hate to admit this, but the truth is: I know that I need the struggle. As much as I hate it, I need it. It’s better than a mundane 9 to 5.

Five questions about books:

One book you've read more than once.

When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd. What’s funny is that she wrote that book from the perspective of a woman going through a “mid-life crisis” situation. I was twenty-four when I first read it and I felt like she was speaking to me and everything that I was going through. It really helped me to understand the necessity of patience, which is something I think most ambitious people have a problem with. I am reading the book again now and I am still applying her advice.

One book you couldn't put down until you finished:

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I picked this book, but the truth is that I really could’ve picked just about anything by Don Miller. I love this guy. But I identified with this book when I read it because it was a book of writings that focused on Don’s effort to understand God, and understand his own questions about faith, which was exactly what I was doing at the time.

One book that made you laugh:

Naked by David Sedaris. I just love Sedaris’ voice, his cynicism and sarcasm… He’s just great at telling a first-person narrative. It’s like talking on the phone with a friend who is recounting something that he went through. And the great thing is: you don’t feel like you have to have been there to really get his humor.

One book that made you cry:

Beloved by Toni Morrison. Okay, I didn’t really cry, but if I were to cry while or after reading a book, it would probably be this one.

One book you wish you'd written:

I don’t really wish I’d written someone else’s stuff, but I really appreciate where other writers took their art. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is just one that stands out to me. This is the type of stuff I want to write. It’s impactful, relevant even over generations; it’s significant and meaningful. And then don’t get me started on the style and voice…

How readers can get in contact with you (mail, email, website):

3401 12th Street NE #4418
Washington, DC 20017

Tenth Letter contestA- All you have to do is send a response to the question: ARE WOMEN THE NEW MEN? to and you'll have a chance to win a copy of the book. And for every book sold, a tree is planted!


Kayona Ebony Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kayona Ebony Brown said...

Thanks for the great interview, LaShaunda.

You can also tell your readers about the Tenth Letter contest. All they have to do is send their response to the question: ARE WOMEN THE NEW MEN? to and they'll have a chance to win a copy of the book. And for every book sold, a tree is planted!

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