Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry.
While Suzette pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing.
The award-winning author of Taffy is a wife and mother of two teens, and holds a culinary degree in Pastry & Baking. Mrs. Harrison is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cookies. Website Link: https://sdhbooks.com
BPM: Please share something our readers wouldn’t know about you.
I have a Baking & Pastry degree from Le Cordon Bleu. California. Not France.
BPM: Introduce us to your most recent work. Available on Nook and Kindle?
Basketball & Ballet will be available in paperback and Kindle ebook.Basketball & Ballet, Book 2 in my California Love series, is my most recent love baby. I say ‘love baby’ because that’s how I feel about writing: it’s an act of creation and is a part of my heart. Basketball & Ballet dropped on my birthday, June 2, 2020!
So that’s doubly exciting. It’s the story of retired NBA player Tavares Alvarez and former ballerina Yazmeen Williams. Both have stepped away from their respective professions for varying reasons.
Now, they’re focused on raising young children, serving God, and living celibate. Of course, when they first meet the attraction is hot, undeniable, and instant. Due to a bad divorce, Yazmeen is not the least bit interested in romance. Tavares? He’s never had a relationship, just plenty of women.
Now, they’re confronted with fiery, mutual attraction that won’t relent. They have to make decisions. Will they? Won’t they? Give in to love…and other things? It’s a fun, sexy but faith-filled journey complete with mishaps, questionably sane exes, and the very real struggles of two born-again Christians trying to live right and remain celibate.
BPM: Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Basketball & Ballet touches on various topics within our current world cosmos: for example, Christianity, abstinence and celibacy, single-parenting, and blending families. It also examines the impact social media can have on relationships, as well as the very real horror of child abduction. Our heroine Yazmeen is African-American, while our hero Tavares is (in his words) “tri-racial.” So, it’s also multicultural.
BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Not so much learned, but I had a truth reinforced. I discovered a few years ago that writing cannot be forced. Not if I want authenticity and quality in my writing.
I started Basketball & Ballet a few years back and wanted it published on the heels of My Joy, book 1 in the California Love series. For the life of me I couldn’t seem to complete it and have it ready for publication in 2019 as originally intended. But when it was ready, it was ready and all parts of the process fell into place. It was another lesson in God’s perfect timing, and that all good things come to fruition in their season.
BPM: Is writing easy for you? Do you feel lonely being a writer during the creative process?
Writing is stimulating, exhilarating, and my absolute love and passion.
That doesn’t necessarily make it easy for me. It’s a labor of love that can sometimes be frustrating. There are moments when I’m in the flow; and others when I’m distracted and can’t concentrate beyond writing one paragraph. Sometimes I have to walk away, refresh and regroup, but I don’t give up. I always come back and writing embraces me when I do.
And, yes, writing is an isolated and autonomous occupation, so loneliness is inevitable. However, I’ve been blessed with remarkable Lit Sisters (fellow writers) whom I connect with. We support and commiserate and encourage each other to keep on keeping on.
BPM: Tell us a little about your creative process. Do you use a computer or write out the story by hand?
I typically start by jotting down notes or bullet points about the characters, scenes, or even dialogue by hand. When it comes to the actual writing of the story, I have to use my laptop. Handwriting the story at any great length just doesn’t work for me. I have to type it.
As for my “set-up,” I love to write in the dark. No lights. Just a quiet space where I’m uninterrupted, while the family is asleep and the house is still. Soft jazz, instrumentals or ambient music. Now, that’s my picture-perfect world. In reality? I have a husband and two very loud teenagers. So, I’ve learned to adapt and adjust. Put the headphones on. Hide in whatever my available writing space and get it done.
BPM: Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips self-care for creative folks?
Know when to walk away. Pressing beyond your capacity can be draining, limiting, and self-defeating. It’s okay to take breaks. We’re human, not machines. If possible, change your space to keep it fresh and feel as if you’ve infused newness or options into your routine.
I try to change up my writing spot between the sitting area in my bedroom, my office, and the backyard; or in a quiet public space like the library, coffee shop, or my neighborhood clubhouse. I love writing in my backyard because we have a water feature and its trickle is so soothing.
If you’re a candle person, light one. Sip some hot tea. Put on that music. Take breaks! Take a walk. Do the things that refresh and reinvigorate you. Don’t be robotic. Call a friend or relative. Make those human connections. Writing/creating can be solitary. Come up for air, be gentle with yourself. We’re creatives. Not robotic.
BPM: What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
Because Basketball & Ballet is the second stand alone book in my California Love series, I felt the “make it as good as” pressure. I have readers who loved the first book (My Joy), so I had to contend with fear that the second book wouldn’t “surpass” the first. But at the end of the day each story is unique and should be allowed its own space to be and breathe.
Another challenge was the ethnicity and profession of our hero, Tavares Alvarez. He’s African-American, Filipino, and Puerto Rican and speaks Spanish. Lord knows I don’t! Like our heroine Yazmeen, I flunked Spanish in middle school and am far from bilingual. (Well, I am studying French, but I have not arrived yet).
Admittedly, Tavares being bilingual was initially intimidating, but I had to let his true self live without my needing to suddenly be an expert on all things multicultural. I also had to up my pitiful hoop game. Not literally, just figuratively. Thankfully he’s already retired when this story takes place so I didn’t have to give too much focus to his game.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I just completed a romance for Rose Gold Press about an older woman and slightly younger man. It will be released later this year and I’m excited about it. Additionally, I’m in the contract negotiation phase for a project with a publisher not based in the U.S. and hope to have more to share on that in the upcoming months.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I love connecting with and hearing from readers. Readers can find my work on my website. My books are also available on Aalbc.com, and Amazon.
BPM: Do you have Facebook fanpages, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, BookFunnel or Pinterest pages?