JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
M. Raye Turner, author of Pretty Monster
(Faith Works Production, LLC)
Experience tears and laughter walking through the life and times of Tangie Waters, a resilient daddy’s girl who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Pretty Monster is an attention-grabbing tale of a young woman’s determination to survive that leaves one questioning their own maturity.
Despite her monstrous ego, Tangie finds humility through her faith in God and the wisdom of her grandparents as she struggles to be at peace while overcoming constant setbacks, family woes, and the complexities of being a single mother pursuing higher education. Pretty Monster is powerfully portrayed story told with raw honesty and love.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Pretty Monster? Is Tangie Waters you?
M. Raye Turner: Pretty Monster fell into my spirit as I was on the way to buy a cup of coffee one morning. The introduction just came to me: “I want to paint you a picture and write you a song about the love below…” I rushed home to write that down. The flow didn’t stop until I had outlined a whole book that had no title. I didn’t decide or plan to write a book.
It was just the next logical step with the purge that I began to share with others. I eventually bought into the idea to go for it and turned it into a tribute to my deceased parents.
Tangie was created to be a rare breed with a masculine appeal to male readers and from the daddy’s girl perspective. Misunderstood and envied by most women who can’t relate to her deep faith and free spirit tendencies. Tangie could very well reflect my alter ego and the twin I wished for but never had.Also, in retrospect I give some credit to Outkast and the movie Idlewild as it sparked something-something.
JP: What sets Pretty Monster apart from other novels in its genre where the protagonist is a single mother struggling with survival in the inner-city?
MRT: It’s succinct and lacks product placement/free marketing… It’s suburban, country, faith driven, intellectual and raw as hell. My readers say its real and that they can see and feel the movements in the literature. They laugh out loud, tears up and get mad based on the way the story pulls them into the characters.
Tangie is never a victim of her circumstances; she has book and street smarts. She knows what she wants and knows how to get it. She learns from the mistakes of others as well as hers and keeps moving.It has been compared to Lackawanna Blues.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Pretty Monster getting out to the public?
MRT: Time and chance, Mr. Pickney. Word-of-mouth and public speaking opportunities have been awesome venues with positively powerful results. I have been blessed by people God has placed in my path that want to share the light and actually push me to the front of the stage and out of my comfort zone behind stage.
I was encouraged to publish my mental purge, harassed into self-publishing and delighted by the way Pretty Monster has begun to create its own following, interest and success.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Pretty Monster?
MRT: (Smile) I like a quiet workspace or a place of beauty (a beach or nature trails). I only write when I feel like it which means I might jump up at 2 or 3am and write until I get it all out of my head. I may not revisit that piece for days or months. I started Pretty Monster in October and finished it in January. The story took 3 months at best.
The revision process came as people showed interest in publishing my work. Months and months later, I found myself making notes to add comedy sketches, Gullah vernacular and the things I love about Chicago to the emerging list of revisions, time lines and the themes of the book.
JP: What’s next for M. Raye Turner?
MRT: I have 3 books outlined. I don’t feel compelled or inspired to move on those at this time. My focus is to take Pretty Monster to the next level, which to me means stage and film plays.
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