Eugenie Laverne Mitchell is a born storyteller. She wrote stories in poetic form as a child. When she became a teenager she began to pen songs about love and life. And gradually the desire to write a novel gave birth to “Washed” which was published in 2012. “Philanthropic Ways” followed in 2014 and “Rebel Seed” in 2015.

“The Yard Girl”, Eugenie’s fourth novel was published in December 2018.

Eugenie will continue to write the stories that flow from her soul, stories about love, about life, about faith.

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?

I am pleased to have been asked to do this interview with you Jimmetta.  Let me just say that you are doing a great thing here at Write2B.  You are giving a voice to Authors and an opportunity to showcase their work.  This is most appreciated by me, and no doubt by other Authors and readers alike.

Thank you for that! I appreciate that more than you know. It’s what I strive to do here and hopefully I will be able to do so much more with this magazine going forward.

As to your first question – well the desire to write a novel was birthed when I was a child.  It was while reading one of my two favorite childhood novels, “Gulliver’s Travels”, that my imagination took flight and I began to formulate other threads to the storyline in my mind.  At around the same time I found my creative outlet in writing poetry – later I would progress to putting melodies to my poems and song-writing.  So my dream of writing a novel was put on the back-burner for many years.

After I became a committed Christian in 1996 my dream revived.  Now I wanted to write a novel that would appeal to both Christians and non-Christians alike.  I prayed about my dream, asking God to guide me and I became “pregnant” with the inspiration for my first novel.  You know how it is with pregnancy – every now and again the “baby” would kick.  I would feel a nudge within my spirit prompting me to start writing.  But my early efforts were not good in my eyes and I would become discouraged and give up. 

Over the years the desire to write a novel would compel me to begin one manuscript after the other, but each effort was abandoned within weeks.  That’s how it was, and that pattern continued for many years. 

It was a single comment which became the catalyst that would see me launch into writing in earnest.  I had completed an assignment in Equity & Trusts, one of the heads that I studied for my law degree.  It was not a preferred subject and I did the essay very badly.  When the assignment was returned to me I received a less than average mark.  I was surprised because after all the hard work I had put in a good mark was anticipated.  At the end of the class I spoke with the Tutor to ask for guidance and he informed me then that he was very impressed, not with the content of the essay, but by my writing.  “You write very, very well”, he stated as he looked me straight in the eyes for emphasis.  That was the confirmation that I needed.  Following that encounter I felt empowered and began, with zeal, to write “Washed”.  That was in 2001 and I have not stopped writing since then.

What I love most about being a writer is that it enables me to live more than one life during my lifetime, through the characters that I create.

What I dislike most is that I have to fit my writing into my spare time as I have a day job.  I wish I could spend more time writing.

2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you? 

I have written 4 novels so far.  They are all available on Amazon as e-books and in paperback.  Here is the link to my Amazon Author page:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eugenie-Laverne-Mitchell/e/B00N5FCSWA%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

You can also find me on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7339142.Eugenie_Laverne_Mitchell

And I have a Facebook page – “likes” are always much appreciated.

https://www.facebook.com/EugenieLaverneMitchell

3) What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on “The Yard Girl II – Miranda’s Story”, the second book in the Yard Girl series.  I may write a third – we’ll see whether I am inspired to do so.  “Miranda’s Story” was due to be published earlier this year.  However, I have found it very difficult to both write and edit this novel, due in part to the Covid-19 upheaval and also because it was no mean feat to convey the story.  The subject matter is a controversial one – skin color, and the manner in which the characters interact in the first half of the novel is unusual.

4) 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?

One of my most significant achievements as an Author is the recognition by the fans I have acquired, who celebrate my work.  Some have contacted me and informed me of the substance they derive from reading my stories.  Another significant accomplishment is that my church recognizes and supports me.  At my church last October, during “Black History Month”, I was recognized as a person of color who had succeeded in their endeavors.  I was asked to give a presentation about my writing journey, followed by a book signing.  This was well received and I found it greatly encouraging.  I felt emboldened yet humbled by the appreciation shown for my work. 

5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?

I don’t think I have dealt with rejection very well at all.  I sent out a few query letters and the manuscript of “Washed” a few times and upon receiving rejection letters I decided to self-publish.  It may be the fear of rejection that has kept me from pursuing a publisher in the traditional manner for any of my works.  I marvel at the courage of those who survive being rejected by publishers “umpteen” times, and cheer when they eventually get offered lucrative deals.  When I receive a less than favorable review, I am initially discouraged but later take the comments as positive criticisms and apply them to improve my work.

6) 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?

I don’t have a schedule for when I write – I do so when I can find time and energy.  I do a very crude outline at the beginning of each novel.  However, I rarely adhere to it.  As I get ideas I deviate from any original plot significantly.

How long it takes me to write a novel?  Ummmh – let me see.  It varies: 

  • “Washed” took me over 9 years :-].
  • “Philanthropic Ways” took me just two years.
  • “Rebel Seed” took me just a year. That is because it was originally a part of “Washed” but was severed and made into a separate novel due to the fact that there was just too much going on in the first manuscript of “Washed”. So with “Rebel Seed” I spent a year mainly editing. 
  • “The Yard Girl – Part I – Sienna’s Story took me nearly three years to write.
  • “The Yard Girl – Part II – Miranda’s Story has taken longer than I anticipated – it should have taken just a year and I had intended it to be less than 100 pages, but it ended up being 266 pages :-]. I am hoping to publish this one soon.

7) 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?

I personally do not believe that it is ever too late to attempt anything.  One of my favorite mottos is “While there is life – there is hope”.  So, if there is anyone reading this who feels that they are too old – think again.  If it is your dream to write, I would encourage you just to begin and leave the rest to God.

8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you?  Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?

I am replying to this question in the context of leisure time reading.  I love to read, mostly novels.  I also enjoy reading Bible stories.  I have loved to read since I was a child.  When I have time, I am an avid reader. However, when I am writing I cannot read much at all.  The first books I recall reading and loving are “Gullivers Travels” and “Alice in Wonderland”.   My favorite Author is “J California Cooper” – I have read many of her novels and cannot get enough of her writing.  I am currently reading “The Yard Girl II – Miranda’s Story” as I write it :-] – yes seriously – and I am enjoying it immensely.

9) How has the current state of the world affected your writing? Because writing is an isolated practice, do you find it easier to deal with quarantine? Has it stifled your creativity or has it made you even more driven to get things done?

My writing has been negatively affected by the Covid-19 upheaval.  Although it has not stifled my creativity, I have felt very lackadaisical most days which is due to the confusion brought to bear by the situation.  It has been very hard work for me to motivate myself to write and edit.  I could have written two novels during the lockdown in normal circumstances yet I find myself struggling to get one edited.

10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you? 

As I said before I am a self-published Author.  It is great that I have had the choice as in yesteryear an Author would perhaps not have had the option.  It would be great to have a traditional publishing deal.   It would have to be the right deal though, as I am so used to the independence that self-publishing affords me.  I particularly wanted to find a traditional publisher for “The Yard Girl” series because in my opinion it is a very important story which could do exceptionally well with a greater degree of publicity, but in the end I succumbed to the convenience of self-publishing.

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?

Certainly for me writing is essential to maintain my peace of mind because if I do not write, the characters that arise from my imagination would just keep running around in my head.  I enjoy great fulfillment when I have written something interesting, important or entertaining.  My writing is authentic because the stories/characters are mostly divinely inspired.  I tell stories that are true to life and many readers can relate.  My hope is that my narratives answer questions for some, and hopefully brings healing and guidance for others.  I am true to myself when I write some characters that speak in my birth tongue.  And I consider my writing to be my calling.