LeTresa Payne always dreamed of becoming an author. Born in Chicago, IL and raised in Ripley, TN, she began reading at the age of three years old and fell in love with fiction. She loved writing short stories and began creating fictional characters at the early age of five. All throughout grade school she wrote stories and allowed her classmates to read them. During her senior year of high school she decided that one day she would make her dream of becoming an author come true. LeTresa is a graduate of Austin Peay State University and the University of Memphis where she earned her master’s degree. She is currently working on a doctorate degree at the University of Memphis.
Follow LeTresa Payne’s author page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LeTresaPayneAuthor
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you. I knew I wanted to be a writer at a very young age. I was around 5 or 6 when I first grew a love for writing. I would write stories for my classmates all throughout grade school on up to high school. It was my senior year of high school when I made the decision to become an author. I just didn’t know the right path to take to pursue my dreams until years later. What I love the most about being a writer is creating stories. It is so fun to be able to create characters and play out their lives inside my mind, then put it on paper. The thing that frustrates me most about being a writer is trying to market my books. As a self-published author it is difficult to get your name out there to gain new readers.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
Currently, I have 9 books from 4 different genres that are sold on Amazon and Kindle at www.amazon.com/author/letresapayne. The four genres are Southern Fiction, Urban Fiction, Spiritual and Psychological Thriller. The Southern Fiction titles are: Daughter Cry No More, Secrets Within Her, and Honeysuckles on a Tennessee Breeze. The Urban Fiction titles are: Motions, Emotions, Motives and Her Lethal Desire. The Spiritual title is: Prayer Warriors. Lastly, my most recent book Margo is classified as being a Psychological Thriller.
Daughter Cry No More was the first book that I published in 2015. It deals with racism and a girl searching for love from her father and acceptance from her peers. I placed a lot of my own emotions from my childhood in this book. My last book, Margo, focuses on the struggles a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as multiple personalities disorder or split personalities) has as she tries to navigate her life being a mother and a wife to a narcissist husband.
Interested parties can discover more about me on WeSlay.com where I write blogs weekly.
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
My inspiration often comes from incidents or events in my past or just randomly pop into my mind. I have always had a vivid imagination, so there is no telling what kind of stories I will come up with. All of my main characters, thus far, have been females who have either suffered some kind of trauma or are trying to figure out their lives, just like me.
4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
No. I do not work on a schedule. One of my rules for writing is to “never force it”. I just allow the writing to flow naturally. It works out better that way for me. I do not create outlines either. I tried it once and it failed miserably. I just allow my characters to “talk” to me. It’s their lives and they are the ones who are telling the story. I’m just the vessel being used to write them. It usually takes about six months to completely finish a novel if I am currently not in school. Right now I am taking a break from writing as I published two books this summer. I am currently working on my doctorate degree, so that is taking precedence in my life right now.
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?
This may sound silly, but the first book that I read which made me cry was Charlotte’s Web. I was so distraught that the spider died in the end. I literally was in tears reading it. I was, perhaps, about 9 years old when this happened. My favorite author is Alice Feeney. She has an exceptional way with words. The way she plays with her readers minds with her psychological thrillers is amazing. I simply adore her work. I am not currently reading anything as I am in school, but when the semester ends I will start back reviewing NetGalley books. I love discovering new authors there.
6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Honestly speaking, the most significant achievement has been just being published. Being able to share my gift of writing with the world has been one of the most wonderful things to happen to me. I love speaking with readers about my works. It’s great to hear what they thought would have happened or how the stories made them laugh or cry. Hopefully, in the next five years I will be able to reach more readers with my work. I would love to have one of my books be sold in retail stores such as Walmart or Target.
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What is your advice for other writers to better be able to cope or navigate their way through the publishing process, be it traditional or self-publishing?
I take the rejection as a blessing and keep it moving. Not everyone will be interested in the story or book that I am trying to pitch and that is okay. I just shake it off and keep writing. One day I will be a best-selling author, I just have to speak it into existence. I would like to encourage authors to never quit. Never stop writing. If writing is your passion, keep going, no matter how many rejection letters that you may receive. If you give up prematurely you will never know just how great you can be.
8) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature? How hard has it been (or easy) for you to build up your author platform?
No. I honestly write because I enjoy doing it. I hope to share my writing with the world, but I do not struggle with being creative and trying to market my work. It is difficult being a self-published author, but I try my best to market my work online and by word of mouth. It has not been easy building an author platform. It is actually a daily task, but I love when I am able to reach new readers. It is great speaking with them as well as catching up with old readers.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself after it’s out there for the rest of the world?
I love it! I reread my work from time to time and cannot believe that I actually wrote the books. LOL. It feels great to revisit my stories from time to time. I sometimes reread my stories when I have a new reader reach out to me with questions about the story, so I can refresh my memory about the book.
10) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
No. It is never to late to do anything in life as long as you have breath in your body and blood flowing through your veins. Each author’s journey is going to be different. Some authors will enter the industry and seemingly become successful overnight while it might take other authors a little longer to reach their target audience. My advice will be to take a chance and get your work out there if writing is your dream.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I am a very open individual. There are some traumatic things that I have experienced in life which aids me in being transparent in my writing. I am able to give my characters real emotions as I can relate to the situations they are going through. I want readers to be able to feel the characters’ angst, sadness, happiness and whatever other emotions they may be feeling. I want my characters and books to be relatable to the individual who is reading the story. With every book that I write there’s a message within them. The reader is going to learn something just by reading one of my books whether it is how to practice forgiveness when you’ve been wronged or how to truly love a person unconditionally. Each one of my books has a lesson to be learned within them. One of my main themes within my books is to “love yourself first”. This is so very important for people to do. You can’t love someone else without first learning to love yourself. Writing empowers me because it provides me an outlet to release emotions and a platform to share my ideas with the world. I am blessed to be able to write stories for others to enjoy.