- Sonya, GREAT FOR US TO chat about TRESPASSED. Before we get into this book you have been able to write other work that has gotten a lot of attention. What has it been like for you to do what you love when it comes to writing and see the response?
Cyrus, writing is liberating but it terrifies me to hear, “I read your book!” Those words are humbling and uncomfortable for me because it took me years to call myself a writer even after I completed many projects. I’m the type of person who’d applaud everyone else’s achievements but would stand in the corner at my own celebration. I’m still working on this but I’m so thankful for the readers who support my ‘TruU’ flavor. TRESPASSED encouraged me to fully embrace who God made me.
- All of your books are entertaining yet have some powerful lessons we can take away from them. Is that your hope as a writer, to motivate as well as entertain?
People say I talk fast when I speak or minister. But they become engaged because the message’s authenticity and transparency aid in their deliverance. I want my books to be page-turners, captivating and enjoyable for the reader. My God-given desire is for readers to relate to my books. There’s nothing like seeing yourself through the character’s eyes. The reviews about TRESPASSED are breathtaking and sobering. This story impacted some readers’ hearts in unexpected ways because they identified with one of my characters. Definitely a God thing.
- When did you realize that writing was something you wanted to do?
Years ago, we were brainstorming ideas for our church’s youth fundraiser. We decided to produce a play. Guess who wrote it. That’s right. Your’s truly. The tickets sold for three dollars and the house was packed! We served a tasty meal at intermission. Wouldn’t you agree the people got a bargain? We received great reviews and people wanted an encore! That exhilarating moment took me back to my high school journalism class when I fell in love with writing. That class planted a seed many years ago that this church production watered. My gift was beginning to grow and in 2007, I wrote my debut inspirational book, WHO I’VE BECOME.
- With TRESPASSED you address some issues that are definitely true-to-life but not always easy to discuss. How difficult were they for you to write?
Oh, you mean the church folk? Well, anyone who knows me understands this is a hot topic. Church folk act as if they’re perfect. They criticize and harshly judge others even though they are unable to uphold the same standards they demand from others. In TRESPASSED, I addressed sexuality and the importance of seeking a therapist’s help. Those words flowed easily, but some issues were difficult because I know how the church community reacts when light shines in the dark. But I had to tell my characters’ truths.
- Right from the gate TRESPASSED was a bestseller on Amazon. How did that feel to see the early reaction?
To be honest, I could not contain my excitement. I squealed and cried tears of joy. Making the bestsellers list prior to release was new for me, but to remain in the top 100 of Amazon’s African American Christian Fiction List for a while, blows my mind. The support for TRESPASSED has been phenomenal. I often look toward heaven and shake my head because I know my blessings come from God. TRESPASSED has sold more copies than any other book I’ve written. It’s God’s book.
- In the book we are able to meet Nadine and Zane, two individuals who are relatable and flawed. Without spoiling anything what was the biggest surprise for you as to the way their story unfolded?
Cyrus! You know how hard it is to skate around what goes down in TRESPASSED. I was most surprised to see myself in some of Nadine’s characteristics. What Zane went through holds true to my favorite saying, “People only got a page; they don’t know your story.” This statement is a TruU staple. There’s a reason why people do what they do. Everyone has obstacles to conquer—no journey is the same. When the sequel releases, I predict #TeamZane will gain new members as his story unfolds.
- Forgiveness of others and self is definitely a part of this storyline. Talk about the importance of forgiveness for you?
Oh my God, this is huge. I’ve been forgiven for so much. I thank God every day for His mercy. I must forgive others because Mercy saw me. Forgiveness is a lifeline for the forgiver and the receiver. I believe unforgiveness creates irregular spiritual heartbeats. It clogs the love flow and it often fosters a compulsion to protect ourselves. But we harm our souls by keeping the poison of unforgiveness inside. We were made to forgive. Unforgiveness won’t allow our true selves to thrive.
- We discussed TRESPASSED on the radio show. Since then you have been hearing a lot from readers as to what they thought about it. What character seems to be the most loved?
It’s a close race between Nadine and Zane. Nadine is out here getting on people’s nerves. It takes the woman years to speak up and order a slice of toast for herself. She is the ultimate people-pleaser, so she avoids confrontation until she learns her voice wields power. Either people are annoyed by her or they love her. Some readers see themselves in her. I’m telling you, you don’t know what people go through. We’ve only got a page.
- Based on your experience, Sonya, what advice do you have for aspiring writers out there?
1.) Please don’t allow anyone to tell you you’re not good enough. Nurture your gift. Creating stories was never my problem. My struggle was writing them properly. I wasted so much time admiring others while criticizing myself. It was self-destructive and it made me doubt myself, but I kept writing and learning the craft by reading and taking classes. Whew. And I still have a long way to go.
2.) Remain teachable.
3.) The need for validation, procrastination, and self-sabotage are your enemies. Self-sabotage creates an internal war that begins when you meditate on negative thoughts. These thoughts tell you reasons why you shouldn’t write. Then, you agree with the negativity when you know you should write. Conquer self-sabotage by feasting on positivity. You will defeat the need for validation and eliminate the temptation to procrastinate. When those enemies visit, don’t hang out with them, kick them to the curb because they will stall your creativity every time.
4.) Don’t look at what others are doing across the aisle. You shouldn’t want to be anyone but your authentic self—unapologetically TruU. Then you will grow and bloom in the right soil.
5.) Get started. Type, write longhand, dictate on a voice recorder, or go ahead and use all three. Use any method that moves you toward completion. Release the words hidden in your heart about your character, so more will come to the surface. Birth your story because no one else can!
- Thanks again for this time. Looking forward to your next book. How can our readers stay connected with you and get their copy of TRESPASSED?
TruU Blog: https://sonyavisor.com/blog/