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  • Rahel

Interviewing Takerra Allen

Out of all your books, which one resonates with you the most?

TA: I’m going to say Last Stop from Innocence. There’s a few different reasons. Before penning that, I’d only put glimpses of my experience of losing my own mother at 18 in my novel The Lonely Pole. But that book was so saturated with other stories and with Baby losing her mother in a completely different way, I didn’t get to go into depth with that emotion. In Last Stop I pulled from my own memories for Amore. And not just with her losing her mother - the plights, the not a girl, not yet a woman stage she was in, the insecurities. To date, I was my most vulnerable with that novel.

As an OG in the industry, what are your thoughts on the direction the literary world is going in? (i.e., e-Books, book clubs, etc.)

TA: Wow. Flattering. I never thought of myself as an OG but 12 years in, I will honorably take that. Thank you!

My thoughts…Change is inevitable. It’s natural and you can either adapt, stay your course and pray your following remains, or gracefully bow out. With some of the changes taking place specifically in my genre, I believe I choose to do all three depending on what we’re talking about. I love the bookclubs and the interaction it provides. Groups like yours have become a lifeline to many authors. People sharing good books others may not have heard of, new authors having a chance to connect with readers that is difficult to accomplish with selling sites and self-promotion alone. Also, E-books is something I’ve happily adapted with. Coming from the paperback era it was a lot more difficult to put out a book then. The pro? If you were going to invest that money in full cover designs, ISBNs, printing costs, storage, travel to stores and distributors and time negotiating your novel onto those tables - it meant you really wanted it…to put in all of that work, you had to really want it. We used to load up the trunk and drive from Maryland to Philly to Newark to the Bronx to Harlem, standing in the snow, stopping people on the street to sell. Now ebooks have made our jobs SO much easier. Happily adapted to that!

Things like expectations of books coming every two months and being pressured by the public on what to write, that’s a TA gracefully bow out situation. I don’t rush myself. I’ll give my everything from my heart to my guts when I write. But it won’t come a second before it’s perfect to me. That’s a stay my course and pray my readers stay with me one right there.

What would you tell a new author that no one has ever told you?

TA: Find your audience and focus on them. Know what makes you special.

Write what you love not what you think people will love.

Stay real and humble and don’t get sidetracked by anything outside of your goal.

Only compete with yourself.

Treat reviews like food - keep the good stuff for nutrition. Sh*t the rest out.

If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

TA: Dig deeper. I know a lot of people enjoy my earlier work but I’m hard on myself. I’ve learned along the way how to tap into experiences and conversations with different people from all over the world, all ages, and research in a way I was ignorant to before. I would tell my younger self take this good book you just wrote here and make it better. Oh, and also your hardheaded rebellion is going to pay off - keep doing it your way. Don’t fold. And don’t second-guess knowing your worth and your dignity, even if it costs you opportunities.