Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Author Spotlight: Award Winning Writer, Monique Mensah Talks With Lynnette Phillips

Monique, thank you for sharing with my readers today, I’m delighted you could join us.
Your novel ‘Inside Rain’ is the winner of the Indie Book Award for The Kindle Book Review [Inside Rain by Monique D. Mensah] Congratulations!
You Can find Nemsis

Lynnette Phillips: Your latest novel and ‘Smoke Screen’ was released in July of 2011 and ‘Nemesis’ will soon be released on June 16th of this year. Can you tell us a bit about your suspense thriller novels and where your inspiration comes from for them? Why did you choose to write in this specific genre?

Monique Mensah:
My goal in writing and publishing my novels is to shock and entertain, to get the readers talking and spreading the word. I write stories that dwell in the readers’ thoughts long after they’ve read the last page. I write to make an impression and to staple the literary world with my own unique voice. I have four novels, Who Is He to You, Inside Rain, Smoke Screen, and Nemesis (June 2012), and I would describe them as dark dramas and psychological thrillers. They are all very different tales, but they share a commonality in that they are all dark, raw, and gritty. I write the kind of books that I like to read, and I like the real stuff, the disturbing stuff!
I didn’t discover this until after completing my second novel, Inside Rain, but I am inspired by mental disorders, whether innate or developed after some tragic life event. The mind fascinates me. It’s so intricate, delicate, and complex. I believe that every one of us is on the brink of insanity, and we never know what could trigger our break or push us over the edge. I like to explore that theory with my characters.   

LP: I imagine that each work has a favorite character for you. Do you use a definite formula to create your characters or do they just seem to evolve as if they have a life of their own? I’ve heard some authors say that they give each character an entire lifetime background before they start writing.

My novels are mostly plot-driven. When I start a project, I think of the ending first, and then I write the rest of the story from the beginning just to justify this jaw-dropping ending that I’ve created in my mind. The characters sort of just fall into place as I write. I let the story guide them through and they begin to develop themselves and tell me who they are, how they would react to the crazy situations I put them in, and what they are thinking.
I have a different formula for every book because each one is so different. For instance, with Inside Rain, I didn’t create character bios. I just let my characters go with the flow, and it worked. But with Nemesis, the plot is a little more intricate; so I found myself so immersed in developing the plot, that I had neglected the characters. I noticed that my characters were flat and lacked unique personalities and traits. But once the story was complete, I was better able to decipher just who these people were and how they would handle this story, so I went back after finishing, and tweaked the characters to give them more color.  

LP: Do you have a set writing schedule and what do you do to get ready for a writing session?

Unfortunately I don’t have a schedule, but I should. I’m just not that organized, and although that’s frustrating at times, I kind of like the chaos! I have good reason to believe that I can write a full-length novel in three months, and I’m going to test that theory with my fifth novel (we’ll see how well that works). With a lack of discipline and no concrete deadlines, it takes me an average of 8-10 months because I tend to take long breaks in between.  
When I do buckle down and write, I need quiet, clean space, and I sometimes listen to music that matches the mood of the scene. It also helps sometimes to write away from home to lessen the distractions.
LP: How do you handle bouts of writer’s block?

Fortunately, I haven’t fallen victim to writer’s block. I’ve always been able to vividly visualize my scenes and write them as I see them in my mind. I don’t write it unless I see it, and the scenes always just seem to come to me. Now, I will go back and completely change a scene or rewrite it because as I continue writing, new ideas may emerge. Instead of writer’s block, I suffer from bouts of laziness or periods when I just get tired of writing. This unusually leads me to take a break and just completely leave the project alone for a while. I’ve learned, though, in order to break the spell of laziness or boredom that talking to a trusted friend (usually a fellow author) about the project in detail reignites my enthusiasm and gets me writing again. 

LP: You started sharing your work in the 3rd grade. When did you start writing and why? Did you have a mentor?

My earliest memories of writing are in my 3rd grade English class. My teacher was the first one to look at my writing assignments and express some interest. She was the first to see something in me and encourage me to write more and to share. She would critique me and push me to do better. However, believe it or not, I never wrote much for recreation outside of grade school and college until I began my career as an author. But I was always praised for it in school. I didn’t really have a specific mentor; I just read a lot—my mother made sure of that, and I learned from some of my favorite authors, whom I had begun to idolize.

LP: Were your first public readings before school faculty and the PTA or did you share them at family gatherings or community functions?

Yes, these were my first public readings. I had never shared with family and friends, because I hadn’t realized that I had a talent until it was recognized in school. I was also very shy and afraid of rejection (something I’ve yet to fully overcome), so I was never eager to open myself up for criticism in that way. However, as I received more praise in school for writing assignments, I became more comfortable with sharing in that setting. I’m very confident in my talent and skill now, and I won’t hesitate to share with a group, but it took me a while to get to that place. I remember, right before my first book was released I was literally pushed on stage to read an excerpt during a spoken word event. That was one of the most terrifying moments of my life, but I’m so glad I did it, because it’s like second nature now.

LP: Have you always written thrillers?

My first novel, Who IS He to You, is a dark drama. I threw some suspense in the mix, but it is mostly a drama rather than a thriller. The other three, I would classify as suspense/thriller. One of the great things about being independent is that I’m not tied down into any one genre. I don’t define my work by the genre; I just write. I name the genre only after completing the novel, but only because I have to. To me, a good book is just that—a good book, no matter the genre. So don’t be surprised if you see me writing something totally different in the future like paranormal or chick lit. But I seem to have a knack for dark and gritty works, so I may stay there for a little while.

LP: What other awards have you garnered?

I received my first award in 2010 for Who Is He to You from the African-Americans on the Move Book Club, which is a national online book club that reads, recognizes, and promotes AA literature. They awarded me the 2010 AAMBC Author of the Year Award in Chicago. My sophomore effort, Inside Rain was the winner of the 2010 Best Books awards for AA fiction, and Who Is He to You landed a spot as a finalist in the same category. Inside Rain was also a finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Awards. Inside Rain also landed me a spot on the Michael Baisden Show, which is a popular nationally syndicated radio show. I almost lost my mind when that happened! I’m happy to say that I’ve enjoyed some success as an independent author, and look forward to many more. 
Author Bio: Native Detroiter, Monique D. Mensah, is a two-time award winning novelist with and innate love for the written word. Monique's talent for writing was first discovered by her third grade teacher, who regularly asked the young student to share her short stories with the class and sometimes the principal and other school administration during assemblies and PTO meetings. At that time, she declared her dream to become a published author, as she believed it to be her purpose. She continued to receive praise for her writing throughout middle and high school.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, with a bachelor's degree in business management, Monique was prompted by her best friend to, "just write a book" and fulfill her life-long dream. She started her first novel,WHO IS HE TO YOU, a drama that she independently published through her publishing company, Kisa Publishing, in 2009. Monique's debut received critical acclaim by readers and prominent book clubs across the country. In June 2010 she was awarded the title of "Author of the Year" by the African-Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) a national book club organization, promoting African-American authors and literature. In August 2010, Mensah released her second novel, INSIDE RAIN, a psychological thriller that is celebrated as the winner of the 2010 Best Books Awards for African-American Fiction. The Best Books Awards, sponsored by USA Book News, also named WHO IS HE TO YOU as a finalist in the same category.

Monique now resides in Southfield, MI where she is raising her daughter and working full-time as a counselor for a private university. She is also the principal and founder of Make Your Mark Editing Services, a boutique copyediting business that assists authors in turning their manuscripts into masterpieces. Monique is currently working on her third novel, SMOKE SCREEN, due for release late summer 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment