La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson Author of "Unveiled"

1.Tell us about your background and journey. I am a native of Oakland, CA. I was raised in a loving home where reading came early and was encouraged. Reading has always been one of my favorite things to do. I have a huge extended family network and many of my fondest childhood memories are filled with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I am a wife, mother, sister, and friend and enjoy a good book, movies, baseball, and ice cream. I attended San Francisco State University, majoring in Social Work so that I could be part of the solution to problems that ravaged my community.

2. When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? I don’t know if “decide” would describe my experience with writing. It’s more like a part of me. I’ve been writing since I was about 8 years old. It was only in 2004 that I decided to take the leap and share my work with an audience beyond my family and friends. Since then I’ve had essays published in several anthologies, completed an e-book serial novel, and a short story.

3. Do you write for a living or do you have another career? Writing as a career is brand new with the release of my debut novel, “Unveiled” in 2019. I am currently working as a life coach, after a career in women’s reproductive health, social work, and community-based services and teaching.

4. Who is your favorite author and why? This question feels like asking, what’s my favorite breath. I have different favorite authors for different reasons all the time. As a young reader, I loved “Nancy Drew” mysteries by Carolyn Keene and the “Little House On The Prairie” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder because the main characters were little girls. During my teen years, Maya Angelou took over, representing and helping me see myself as a Black woman in ways that Keene and Ingalls-Wilder couldn’t do. Now I find myself loving Attica Locke, Beverly Jenkins, Yaa Gyasi, James McBride, Stephen King, Terry McMillan, Leonard Pitts, Jr., and Walter Mosley to name a few. All of these writers are amazing storytellers and take a reader into the story. I always walk away from their working either having had a complete escape-experience and/or learning something new about myself.

5. What inspires you? I’m inspired by different things at different times. Sometimes it could be watching children play in a park or a song that reminds me of something playing on the radio. Other times it might be the pine smell of my Christmas tree or the smell of cookies baking. I’m also inspired by the life and stories of others. I find human beings fascinating. 6. What does your typical day look like as an author? I really don’t have a “typical” day. Because writing isn’t my “full-time” job, there are some days when I don’t write at all. On what I call my “Author Days” I’m usually up early writing or re-writing. The pandemic has halted all in-person book events, so some of my “Author Days” are spend Zooming into a book club discussion or interview. Then there are those times when I may not write until late at night. I really like that writing time the most.

7. What is the name of your book? What is it about? What inspired you to write it? My debut novel is titled, “Unveiled.” It’s the story of a young New Orleans attorney who goes back to her small Louisiana hometown when her younger brother dies. She soon discovers that there is more to her brother’s death than meets the eye and she begins to dig for answers. Her digging brings much more to the surface than she bargained for. “Unveiled” came to me while I was in the midst of writing something else. It felt like a story that had to be told. The themes of family and love are universal and I am always inspired by finding answers to questions.

8. What piece of advice would you like to give to future aspiring writers? I would say WRITE. Find your own individual rhythm/process and don’t worry if it doesn’t look like or sound like what you imagined of a “writer.” I was writing for years before I actually came to see myself as a writer. I would also say, take time to learn all you can about the art/craft of writing. Honor your gift with lots of hard work. Your readers deserve your best.

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