Based in New York City, E. Alexcina Brown, writing as The Blakk Dahlia, is a romance-suspense author of the Heartbreak Diaries Book Series.
As a self-published author, she’s published five books, romantic fictional tales to form the book series, the Heartbreak Diaries. The series delves into inner thoughts and routes of heartache. Using her personal stories as a reference, she created the series to answer the “whys” in utilizing unique traits in tackling a love life.
Website Link: https://www.theblakkdahlia.com/heartbreak-diaries-series
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?
Thanks for having me! It’s a pleasure!
For as long as I can remember I’ve always loved writing. I enjoyed doing writing assignments in school, the ones where I was able to be creative. It came easy for me. As time went on, I found writing to be an outlet for self-expression. It was hard for me to articulate my feelings verbally. So, writing became my voice for inner thoughts and feelings.
What I love most about writing is the creating aspect. I can create my own world and give my perspective (whether popular or unpopular). In writing, I found a voice and I use it today to speak on unspoken topics/situations, teach lessons through my stories, and it’s therapeutic to “mind dump” things that I’ve been through.
What frustrates me the most about writing is not knowing when to leave the story alone. I’m a perfectionist and I always try to make sure I’m providing a descriptive yet entertaining story. In that process, I become stuck with “how am I going to end this”.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
In 2018 I released the first book from my series, the Heartbreak Diaries. Currently, I have five books released from the series. These books give an account of various dating/love scenarios. Each book focuses on a specific characteristic of the protagonist. This characteristic is described as the “style of heart” we all tend to use when dealing with matters of love/lust.
With the series, I created a unique element called a “Dear Diary” moment. This portion of each book gives a first-person account of one of the main characters. With these stories, I like to reveal the flaws in liking/loving as well as provide a way for people to learn, relate, and be entertained.
The books are:
To learn more about me and the books, you can visit www.TheBlakkDahlia.com.
3) Why use the pen name The Blakk Dahlia?
“The Blakk Dahlia” is a “pen name” inspired by the true story of “The Black Dahlia” (high profile Hollywood murder victim). The mystery of her brutal death was her claim to fame. However, the public knows little of her REAL story. She had dreams, desires, and goals; working towards achieving them until her life was taken. There were speculations of her life before that brutal day which will always have missing pieces of the puzzle. But only she knew, and unfortunately, she was not able to tell her story. No matter the story of where the winding road of life was leading her, The Black Dahlia died full of dreams.
This had me thinking, what if I complete my life full. With the adaptation of the name, I decided to live and tell my story. In this story, it entails risk-taking, dreams, mistakes, and the unexpected journey in between. Sprinkled with the fun stuff that allows me to enjoy the ride along the way. Inside THIS Blakk Dahlia, the mystery will be solved.
4) What projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on promotional activities for my latest release, Replacement. Replacement was published in December of last year and it tells the story of “The Grieving Heart”. The book follows a young couple in love until they are torn apart. In the aftermath, the woman finds a unique way to deal with the romance lost.
Also, I’m working on the Heartbreak Diaries brand as a whole; in offering more giveaways, readings, speaking engagements, and interviews about the series.
I have another book I’d like to push to the re-writing/editing process, but I probably won’t start that until the end of the year.
5) 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?
So far, I think the most significant achievement is more of reaching a personal goal. I reached a goal of writing and releasing five books within three years. I started the Heartbreak Diaries Series in 2014, and it’s been fulfilling to see my work “come to life” and how others are gravitating towards the series.
Within the next five years, I strive to be on a “Best Sellers” list. I’d like for the Heartbreak Diaries to be a household name in hopes of bringing it to the TV screen.
In addition, I want to expand my writing works and get into more motivational style books by telling more personal stories of overcoming obstacles, dealing with rejection, setbacks, etc.
6) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
I’ve been modeling and getting into acting over the years so my skin is a bit thick when it comes to rejection. So, by the time I started publishing books, I already knew that I’d be rejected along the way.
The great thing about books is that there is a lane for everyone. I’m able to reach readers globally and if its not for one person, it’ll sure be for someone else. I take reviews, commentary, etc. as constructive criticism. I take heed in what the reader lacked with my book and how I can improve on the next book.
Business wise, rejection has just kept my mind churning on the next phase. I’ve never relied on one thing, one opportunity, or one person to help me achieve my goals. Rejection is part of the process. Yes, it sucks, but I rest up and come back continuing what I’m doing.
7) 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 set schedule, but I write mostly around 1am to 4am. My mind is quieter, no one is calling my phone, and I’m able to think better. Every now and then I’ll squeeze in a wiring session on a weekend afternoon. Throughout the day if an idea comes to mind, I’ll just jot it down on my iPhone Notes or email it to myself.
When starting a story, I’ll jot down notes and blurbs on what I want the book to be about. However, most of the time, I’ll have an idea then start writing the book. Then leave it alone and come back months later to continue to work on it.
From the years 2014 to 2017 I wrote about six books. In working on up to three at a time, it’s kind of hard to gauge the time it took to complete. In the editing/re-writing process, I take about six months to a year to get the book ready for publishing. Mainly, it’s because I’m always learning new things about writing that I want to implement in my books.
8) 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?
Well first, the aspiring writer would have to define their own meaning of success. And navigate the writing business on THEIR goal(s). Some set out to be a best-seller, while others want to help, and some don’t care how many people read their book because to them, the success is completing and publishing.
There are various avenues in being a “successful writer”. You just have to find your own groove and not allow anyone else to define your success for you.
I feel like the whole “late start” narrative is becoming obsolete. It doesn’t matter your age if there is a story to tell, anyone can create and publish it. Also, with age comes wisdom. If I started this series in my early 20s, I wouldn’t have the wisdom and the “know-how” to develop each book.
Funny thing, as I edit/re-write I read my original works and laugh because it was from a late 20-something mindset. I’ve grown and learned so much, not just about writing, but life in general. I’m not there anymore so I had to “grow my book up”, as I got a little older.
So, I said all that to say, it’s NEVER too late.
9) 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?
Growing up, I LOVED reading. Honestly, it’s been slacking lately since I’ve been writing/promoting my own books. But I plan to make time to start back and get back into my books. I’m so behind because there are a lot of great works available now in many genres.
The first book that touched my emotions was a Goosebumps book by R.L. Stine. I was moved because he was able to scare me with his words. I aspire to be that type of writer, one who can channel any emotion, even fear, with words on a page. To me, that’s brilliance!
My favorite author is the late and great Eric Jerome Dickey. He’s my inspiration in normalizing black stories. We don’t have to water our characteristics and situations down to fit into a certain box or formula. Tell the stories OUR way!
10) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity or did it make you even more driven to get things done?
The Pandemic was challenging at first. Mainly because I didn’t understand what was going on and being in NYC, the epicenter of the virus, was scary. But once I got a few weeks into it, I focused more on blogging for my site and my writing. It also gave me the idea to introduce a segment on my IGTV “Late Nite Book Chat”. I’d set up my lights and camera phone and talked about my books and used it as a promotional tool. Couldn’t go anywhere so I went to work at home, lol.
I was also able to update my website as well as clean up the business side of my writing career.
The lesson I learned was that it is okay to take breaks. I thought that I was supposed to come out of the Pandemic with new books and a new business. Of course, social media influenced that anxiety lol.
Sitting still allows time for deep reflections. For me, I used it as a time to get back into taking care of myself. In doing so, it greatly helped my writing because when I came back to it, my mind was clearer allowing me to develop creative ideas.
11) 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?
Honestly, I’m not keen on what the publishing industry is doing right now because I’m focused on building my brand in the self-publishing world. With that being said, it speaks to how the writing world is shifting. More self-published writers are taking the indie route. My guess is because of the restrictions, competitiveness, and sometimes the lack of creative freedom.
I like self-publishing. Mainly because of creative freedom. Yes, it’s a lot more work, but I never wanted to wait for a company to pick up my books. I preferred to put it out there myself and see what happens while improving along the way.
Going hybrid has never been a thought because I’m working so hard in developing in the indie lane. To my understanding, the author is still within the parameters of that company. Yes, it’s the best of both worlds, but is it worth it? However, if that opportunity arises, I’d definitely consider and weigh out my options. In this business, or in any business, it’s best to be open to the opportunities that come along.
12) 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 think for me writing is therapeutic in this current stage of my life, personally. In a creative/artistic viewpoint, my writing helps me develop my own world as I have a vivid imagination. Its an escape from my own reality (especially when it gets rough) and I get to dive into the lives of fictional characters. I control the pen, and I control what happens. To me, that’s a powerful feeling!
However, with that control, in developing the Heartbreak Diaries, I charged myself to be honest. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I take those scenarios and apply them to my written utopia.