Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Conversation with Monica Mathis-Stowe

        If you ask me cover designs and titles are what determine whether a reader will give a novel a second look or not. So when Monica Mathis-Stowe's novel Where Did We Go Wrong made its appearance on my Facebook page its catchy title and hot pink cover immediately caught my attention and screamed originality. Any author who has a cover as clean cut as this must take a seat with My Urban Books and spill their guts, so ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you, Monica Mathis-Stowe. So it was a given in My Urban Books would have Monica Mathis-Stowe, the author behind this attention demanding cover have a seat and spill her guts.

My Urban Books: As a teenager what role did you play with your friends? Were you the comical one, the mama friend? What?

Monica Mathis-Stowe: As a teenager, I was always the serious studious type. The bookworm of the group who preferred to stay in the house and read a good book as opposed to hanging out with friends. When I did go out with my friends, I took on the mama role because I’m the oldest child and always felt like it was my responsibility to lead my friends, whether they wanted me to or not.

My Urban Books: Where Did We Go Wrong is based on three friends, so tell us a little bit about your friends.

Monica Mathis-Stowe: My friends are nothing like the characters I write about. Maxine, Joy and Gabby are all created from my imagination and had way too much drama in their lives. My girlfriends, on the other hand, are busy working mothers who are involved in their children’s activities. They’re too busy balancing their careers and family while trying to carve out a little ‘Me Time’ for themselves to deal with too much drama. My girlfriends don’t have time for anything that will cause them more stress in their lives.

My Urban Books: What ingredients would you say makes up for a toxic friendship?

Monica Mathis-Stowe: A so-called friend who is selfish, competitive and not available when you’re going through a difficult time makes up a toxic friendship. Someone who takes from you, but never gives back is selfish. Someone who tries to match your purchases and style is competing with you and will always try to outdo you so stay away from them. And if you’re always available when a friend needs you, but that same person is not available when you need them, stop making yourself available because that friendship is off balance and will never be equal.

My Urban Books: What was the first thing you learned about the literary world?

Monica Mathis-Stowe: You will create a love/hate relationship with your editor, but it will make your book better and help you develop a tough skin.

My Urban Books: You will soon be releasing Where Did We Go Wrong Again?  What about this novel makes it better than part one?

Monica Mathis-Stowe: Where Did We Go Wrong Again? Picks up immediately after Where Did We Go Wrong? ended. The first chapter reveals who was shot. Being held hostage by Joy’s deranged husband, Dean, made the characters do things they wouldn’t necessarily do. Their friendships are tested and strained. There are several topics in the book that I want readers to think about. Would you forgive a man you love who cheated on you? Would you reunite with your abusive husband even when your family and friends disagree with your decision? Is good sex enough to make you lower your standards and forget a man’s criminal background and his wife? These are just a few of the issues Gabby, Joy and Maxine deal with in the sequel.

 I’m apprehensive about saying anything about the sequel being better than part one. If it weren’t for my wonderful editors, I would probably still be working on Where Did We Go Wrong? Because I’m always trying to make my story better. I never feel confident about my work. I haven’t gotten to that point yet and always feel as if I could do better. I’ll let the readers decide.

My Urban Books: What novel can we expect from you after Where Did We Go Wrong Again? Do you have a name picked out?

Monica Mathis-Stowe: I have two novels in the works, The Firefighters’ Wives and Someday We’ll Be Together. My children’s book series will release in mid-2013 as well.

My Urban Books: Do you remember what the first person who didn’t like your novel said?

Monica Mathis-Stowe: Yes, a publisher told me that my novel was boring because it didn’t have the typical drug dealer love story, stripper turned good, and street theme that so many African American novels have today. Where Did We Go Wrong? Has been number one on Amazon’s African American Drama category for the past couple of months which goes to show you that not all African Americans want to read what that publisher was producing.

My Urban Books: What author has been the most supportive of your work?

Monica Mathis-Stowe: Azarel of Life Changing Books has been a tremendous support to me. I wouldn’t be a published author without her help and support.

My Urban Books: What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Monica Mathis-Stowe: Have your work professionally edited before you publish it. Don’t give up on your dream of publishing your novel. Editors and reviewers can be harsh, but truthful. Negative feedback will sting and hurt your ego, but listen and learn. Use it to make your work better. The last thing you want to do is publish your book without having a marketing plan. Even if you write a terrific novel, readers aren’t going to flock to your work. You have to create a marketing plan to get your book in reader’s hands.

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