Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tamara Grant’s interview with author, Arlonda Abrams

TAMARA: You are an author, a radio show host. Talk to us about some of the many hats you wear.

ARLONDA: Many of the hats I wear also include, Real Estate Broker, Web Designer, Web Master, Magazine Publisher, Book Publisher, Staff Writer, and Full-Time Mother.

TAMARA: Tell us about your book Ava's Diary.

ARLONDA: Ava's Diary is a trilogy book series which takes you on an adventurous journey of a lifetime. In "Ava's Diary: From the Very Beginning--Volume 1, Series 1," I write about my life story about growing up in what many would consider "the ghetto" and my determination to escape to become "somebody"--a pediatrician.

It is in this first series that I expose that I am, indeed, the first-born of a teenage mother and a gangster, pimp, drug dealer father who was also shot multiple times and left for dead and who also served a seven-year stint in the state penitentiary. It also tells of how my parents met, who they are, as well as the backgrounds of both maternal and paternal grandparents and well as great-grandparents.

As I was also very smart, my mother, determined to give me the life that she never had as a young mother of two by the age of 19, made sure that I went away to college in hopes of my becoming a doctor. So, "Ava's Diary: The College Years--Volume 1, Series 2" tells of my journey and experiences while in college--my most lurid experiences yet; being physically abused by a former ex-boyfriend; becoming pregnant and enduring my second very emotional and physically painful abortion; being stalked by a lesbian of which I had previously humiliated while dining in the college cafeteria (we almost came to physical blows); my playa' playa' days whereby I enjoyed multiple six partners, and sooooo much more.

My final series, "Ava's Diary: From Atlantic Anguish to London Love--Volume 1, Series 3," takes you on a whimsical journey to Europe where I studied medicine abroad for one month in January, 1986. While walking the streets of London's Picadilly Circus, our eyes met and we fell in love at first sight. I'm speaking of how me and the love of my life, "Alexander," a prominent music producer in London, England, met for the first time. This book takes you on a journey that most find incredible and unbelievable. I wouldn't believe it either, if I had not lived it personally.

TAMARA: What experiences inspired Ava's Diary?

ARLONDA: My life experience inspired me to write this trilogy book series. I wanted my son to know that before I became his mother, I was the baby girl of young teenaged parents who grew up to become a young girl to a young woman to eventually gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I needed my son as well as his children and grandchildren, for years to come, to know who we were, that we truly existed, and consequently who they are.

TAMARA: You have three versions of Ava's Diary. What encouraged you to do that?

ARLONDA: Good Question. They didn't start out that way. They started from one version of one book. But, after reading what I deemed "the final" edits, yeah right; I thought it was too racy for my parents to read. So I decided to rate the original raw versions as the "X-Series," then remove some of the graphic and explicit scenes out to create the "PG-Series." However, after reading that series, it was still too racy whereby I wouldn't want my son or minister friends to read, so I created the "G-Series." Now, everybody can enjoy these books, depending on your taste and tolerance level.

TAMARA: What have the positive and negative points been in your self- published experience?

ARLONDA: No matter what, I will always encourage all new and aspiring authors to self-publish initially. However, the key is knowing which self-publishing company to go with as there are so many of them out here. So, my experience was pretty interesting, actually. I was originally with another self-publishing company, which will remain nameless. Originally my bill would have been $500. However, with all the edits that I needed them to correct, my bill increased exponentially--to a whopping $3,000! So I decided to go with another self-publishing company; whereby I didn't have to pay any upfront cost, which matched my budget much better. Okay?!

TAMARA: Tell us about The Color Pages Magazine.

ARLONDA: The Color Pages, or TCP, as we affectionately refer to it, was initially published six years ago. I was compelled to create a quarterly-produced, Jet-sized magazine of which People of Color could be proud. Initially, we had a few haters out here in our beloved Stockton as many of the "Stocktonians" felt that I was out of line for trying to pull this community together, as I was not originally from here, but rather from the Bay Area of California. But, after our first issue, they were very impressed and decided to join and support us big time! As a "Stockton Transplant," I wanted other new Stocktonians to know who and where the players were here--City Council, Mayors, City Hall, the Barber & Beauty Shops, and so much more.

TAMARA: You have a radio show called TCP Live! Talk Radio: Unscripted & Uncut! Let the readers know about some of the show topics and why authors would want to be featured on TCP Live! Talk Radio.

ARLONDA: Yeah, the natural progression of things always amazes me. Well, the radio talk show was created as a real voice for real issues, many of which we had not discussed in our magazine, The Color Pages. So, it became that other medium. Some of the topics include Men on the Downlow, HIV, AIDS, MRSA, Light-Skinned vs. Dark-Skinned Blacks, How Africans and African-Americans truly feel about each other, Why Cheaters Cheat? and so much more. I believe that since our topics are REAL topics, then the very REAL Authors would want to come on the show to discuss their REAL books. As we have created an audience of very REAL listeners. So there's a match there. These REAL listeners will most like buy these types of books.

TAMARA: When people read your work, what do you want them to walk away with?

ARLONDA: I want my readers to walk away with a sense of REALNESS! The fact that I truly lived an interesting, colorful, and worldly life, yet and still, was smart enough to overcome many of the same issues that many other young Black women face today. They need to know that I am no better than them. And that my background is probably the same as theirs. But, to keep on pushing on. And when you make it, then you must reach back and pull up those who are facing now what you were facing then. You have to. In writing the "Ava's Diary" Series, I realized that my journey wasn't even about ME, but rather about ME helping THEM! And telling my story with realness and being unbound have made it something truly magical, especially for young women, which makes me the most proud.


10 Questions with Arlonda

1. 3 words that describe you. BOLD, BRAVE, BROAD.

2. Your true passion.Helping others, thinking outside the box, and creating something truly magical, the likes of which had never been seen before.

3. One thing that you cannot leave home without.My cell phone.

4. You are stranded on an island. What three things are must haves for you?I hope this is the Virgin or Hawaiian Islands, or something. Lol. If so, then my freakin' cell phone, access to the internet, a mirror. If not the Virgin or Hawaiian Islands, then a pad and pen, photos of my son, and lip gloss.

5. Favorite ColorMidnight Blue

6. Favorite SeasonThe Late Spring.

7. The time of day you are most productiveIn the mornings, for sure. Since I don't sleep very well, my mind is always heavily creating between 4-6am, so I need to get up and just start creating stuff.

8. In my free time I ......Watch TV, go to movies with my son. Chill on my plush red living room sofa. Well, until my cell phone rings.

9. Zodiac SignOn the cusp of Cancer and Leo. But due to the time of night in which I was born, then I am a Leo--July 23rd.

10. In 5 years I will be..... Great question. I am hopeful to be attending my son's college graduation and doing more of the same--writing, creating, and making things happen, but of course, bigger and better, right?

TAMARA: Arlonda, please share your websites with the readers and tell them the best ways to contact you and buy your books!

The Color Pages Magazine: http://www.colorpagesmag.com/
The TCP Book Lounge: http://www.tcpbooklounge.com/
The TCP Community Network: http://www.mytcplive.com/

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