JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Ebonee Monique, author of Suicide Diaries
(Peace in the Storm Publishing)
(One of the first ten people to comment will win a copy of Ebonee Moniqueâ€™s Suicide Diaries.)
Congratulations to Asia for winning a FREE copy of Suicide Diaries!
When Lauren Washington’s mother is mysteriously gunned down in their neighborhood, Lauren – a nine year old from Bankhead, Georgia – must quickly grow up and become the woman of her household. Early on, Lauren finds that not dealing with her pain is easier than actually doing so. It’s only on the confidential white pages of her diary that Lauren feels free to spill the thoughts from her troubled mind.
After finding a job in radio, which allows her to mask her true thoughts and become her on-air persona “Mystique,” Lauren believes she’s found the perfect blend of privacy and sanity. Today, at age 26, Lauren is one of the top rated deejays in Atlanta and is dangerously in love with her boyfriend of eight years, Brendan.
From the outside, everything looks perfect. However, when Lauren enlists the help of a private investigator to look into her mother’s unsolved murder, strange things start happening. Her father is nervous, her best friends are acting out of character and Brendan begins to withdraw from her and ends up disrespecting her in the boldest way.
With visions of her happiness shattering, Lauren scrambles to repair her relationship with Brendan. Before apologies can be made, Brendan does the unthinkable and commits suicide. Lauren is left to deal with more than her heart or the pages of her diary can handle.
Brendan’s sneaky double life compels her to figure out who he really was and what the secrets, he died to keep from her, were.Suicide Diaries deals with betrayal beyond the grave and the disbelief and heartache that comes after a suicide. Moving on, once the dirt has been thrown on the coffin, will prove to be the hardest self-evaluation Lauren’s ever experienced.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Suicide Diaries?
Ebonee Monique: My first love committed suicide. I went from shock, grief, anger, sadness and then I started asking, “How could this happen to him?” He was young, seemingly happy, married with a child and living a ‘good’ life. I found that I was always telling myself that he wasn’t dead and I’d see him on the street again. The reality was, I was trying to block the truth from my heart & mind.
I would see someone who resembled him and say, “Is that him?”, but I knew it wasn’t. My heart didn’t want to hear that, though. On my birthday a few years ago, I finally allowed myself to visit his grave for the first time and accept the truth. The next day, the opening entry for “Suicide Diaries” came to me.
I had the first chapter completed by the weekend and was on a roll. I always like to think that the moment I allowed myself to accept the truth was the moment God gave me my story. The main character (Lauren Washington) is not me. I always have to tell people that.
I’ve felt her pain, and I’ve cried her tears. I’ll never know why my first love did what he did, and I’ll never be over the pain of losing a friend. Writing this book was my way of beginning the healing process. I wanted to show that this DOES happen in our communities, it DOES change the lives of everyone the person knows and, more importantly, embracing change isn’t a bad thing.
JP: What sets Suicide Diaries apart from other novels in its genre?
EM: The message, I think. There are plenty of books that discuss love, cheating, money, sex, scandal, etc. You know…the books we all love to love! But Suicide Diaries is unique in the fashion that there is a higher message about suicide within the African American community.
We don’t discuss it; it’s the black sheep that we’d rather not talk about . It happens, and it’s real. We are losing so many kings and queens to suicide, and I think- while my book includes love, betrayal, money, sex and plenty of scandal- Suicide Diaries envelopes the overall message that suicide is real.
Some sort of way, suicide and mental illness became hush-hush secrets in the African-American communities; I wanted to shine a light on it and say “Let’s get to the root of what’s going on instead of ignoring it!” While the story is completely fiction, the tears behind the inspiration aren’t.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Suicide Diaries getting out to the public?
EM: Really, I’ll say prayer, persistence and more prayer. I constantly challenge myself, as a writer, to come up with more twists and turns that would shock and inform the reader. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to my craft. My first thought, when I write a story/book, is “What is this bringing to the reader?”
I want someone to walk away from a piece and think. I don’t want to write a piece just to make money or to get famous. I want to write something that I can be proud of stamping my name on. A lot of my pre-publishing readers got my raw, raw emotions and stories when I was first cranking stories out on Myspace, and I got GREAT response.
I tried to stay present on the social media and local book-club/media scene. I heard about a writing contest with the winner being awarded a slot in an anthology titled Triumph of My Soul. I submitted a story, and it was accepted.
From there, I stayed very close to publisher Elissa Gabrielle. After I finished Suicide Diaries, I sent out a number of query letters. I even one to Elissa Gabrielle and her new publishing company, Peace In The Storm Publishing and got a bite back.
Knowing that I was going to be a part of something so major and ground-breaking was invigorating. Writing had always just been fun to me, so to think someone wanted to publish me was – in a nutshell – AMAZING!
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Suicide Diaries?
EM: I’d like to say I’m a cool author and have a set writing process, but I really don’t. I always tell people that I see the ending before I see the beginning. I know the beginning before I know the meat and bones of the story. It’s weird, but it works for me.
I will be in the zone writing and the drama is unfolding in front of me as I type and sometimes I have to stop and say, “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe that happened!” I never write anything down. I just sit at my computer and type, and a story comes out.
My family and friends ask me how I do it, but I can’t answer. I’ve never jotted one note or story down on paper. That process doesn’t work for me. I feel liberated sitting in front of the computer with a speck of an idea and a keyboard. That’s when the magic happens.
I finished Suicide Diaries within six months. I didn’t take a break from that one like I normally do with some books. It just flowed out.
JP: What’s next for Ebonee Monique?
EM: My goal is to write one book a year. I’ve got plenty in the vault that are finished and ready for reading, but I want to keep my readers hungry for more. My next book, Walk a Mile, comes out in early 2010. Hands down, it is my favorite book that I’ve penned so far. It centers around a selfish woman, a mysterious man, a secret and a mouth-dropping revelation.
I loved writing Walk a Mile because it allowed me to be so opposite of myself – conceited, selfish, stuck-up and unbelievably wrong – without people judging me. I’ll be touring the country for promotion of Suicide Diaries and Walk a Mile, as well.
I’m young. Instead of shying away from that, I’m going to use what I’ve learned and the lessons I’ve been taught on my incredibly bumpy road and hopefully teach a lesson or two through fiction!
*Nominated as ‘Breakout Author of the Year’ by the African-American Literary Award Show!
Here’s what’s being said about Ebonee Monique:
“Definitely a talent…”- Karen E. Quinones Miller, Essence Best-selling Author
“Suicide Diaries will capitvate for years to come”- Stacy Deanne, author of Everlasting
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