New author Erika Kendrick – Confessions of a Rookie Cheerleader chats with Clutch Magazine’s staff writer Rashana Hooks while sharing a few confessions of her own . . .
Rashana: Now that you are one of the hottest new authors out there, how does it feel to be officially e-Listed?
Erika: *smiles* The success of Confessions of a Rookie Cheerleader has been undeniably delicious for both my readers and this author. To be able to create something so fantabulous in which savvy women can discriminately indulge and completely lose themselves has been the ultimate reward for my quarter plus life come-up . . . and being officially E-Listed has been one of the many decadent rewards. Being E-Listed essentially means being empowered enough to grind concrete hard and run from the cubicle without looking back unless you’re stuntin’ to see how far you’ve come! Being e-Listed means being part of a growing movement of fantastically major women who are destined and determined to trick out their swagger just by doing THEM; and being e-Listed, by definition, means you don’t need anybody’s permission to do it either! On the flip, E-Listed is a community that often includes behind-the-scenes thought leaders and trendsetters that Big Boy the Bouncer may not recognize by face but will remove the velvet rope by sheer acknowledgment of their hustle, because quiet as kept, Big Boy is striving to be e-Listed too!
Being “one of the hottest new authors out there” is one of the gnarliest feelings I’ve ever felt. I’ve always been a chica who went against the grain and went HARD—in both directions. So when I succeeded, it was extraordinary and when I didn’t quite succeed, it was always a long way down and an even longer struggle to get back up. In undergrad at Stanford I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and dutifully spent my 20’s educating me about me. I came up against far too many naysayers and to be in a position now where I have a platform to tell the hundreds of young women who want to talk to me about that life-changing experience for their personal growth and understanding has been what I think my journey has always been destined to be about. So, in a word, “being one of the hottest new authors out” is FANTASTIC!
Rashana: Confessions of a Rookie Cheerleader is not your average “tell all” as some may assume—what makes this Ã¼ber-sexy novel literally a league in its own?
Erika: Confessions of a Rookie Cheerleader is definitely not your average “tell all” and I’m glad you put it out there for those who’ve been wondering and claim to be so appalled and over all the trite tell-alls. I get hundreds of emails from women around the country thanking me for the “expose with a twist.” The “Twist” is that it’s a fictitious love story that reminds us what romance really is while offering up a VIP All Access pass behind the locker room doors of an NBA Cheerleading Team and the multi-platinum record label halls of the music industry. My readers tell me they agree that it’s like Sex and the City MEETING Girlfriends, and then I like to sprinkle on MEETING the LA Laker Girls. Because I cheered for the Chicago Bulls in a previous lifetime and worked at record labels in the music industry, the backdrops for the salacious story are absolutely authentic. They say there’s always some truth to fiction and I honestly couldn’t agree more. So if you’re savvy enough to get your Inspector Gadget/Nancy Drew on, then you’ll recognize certain infamous people in their respective roles—but, of course, I’ll never tell!
Rashana: The main character, Hannah Love, is not only a savvy music executive and a chic cheerleader, she is also a fabulous fashionista, wearing the likes of Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, and Marc Jacobs to name a few. What is you opinion on the influence fashion has on the chic-lit genre?
Erika: The chic-lit genre evolved out of a demand for stories that catered to the more female-oriented dimensions that come with your formulaic girl-meets-boy scenario. It is inevitable that fashion would be in integral component in any equation made up of variables consistent with putting “Her” best foot forward and looking flawlessly fabulous while doing it. The chic-lit genre continues to evolve and the term itself gets tossed around a lot today. Literary leaders have continued to debate over what exactly the genre should represent and morph into as it continues to grow. It’s always been about independent women who work, often holding down their spots in the Glamorous Life while trying to hold down a Hot Boy or two they’ve been crushing on. I just don’t see how I could write about such fantastic chics without gushing over her shoe v. arm candy. Impossible!
Rashana: What is your fashion style/inspiration? And who are some of your favorite designers?
Erika: I like to think that I’m in the wind… whichever mood opens my closet door is what my ensemble whispers to everyone as I pass them on the catwalk that is New York City. But most of the time my style reps sophisticate chic with an R&B twist (though hip-hop will always be my lovechild). Although lately I’ve been funking out a vintage 50s mod vibe rocking out my grandmother’s CLUTCHES and slinky retro gloves.
Some of my fave designers are Zac Posen, Betsey Johnson, A.B.S, Roberto Cavalli, Herve Leger, Byron Lars, Nicole Miller, Christian Louboutin, Tracy Reese, Gucci . . . this girlie girl could go on all day! But I totally heart a naughty new designer, Tori Nichel, who’s on her quarter life come-up—trÃ¨s E-Listed!
Rashana: What I loved most about the book was the ability for Hannah Love to have it all (savvy music executive, Diamond Doll and the heart of a sinfully fine man) as the result of hard work and determination. Although some may call it a fantasy, how do you feel about black women today really having it all?
Erika: There’s no denying that our community suffers from staggering odds that are statistically substantiated when it comes to our men. Nevertheless, Black women are innately strong and authentically sexy, and as a very girly romance writer and a true believer in everything L-O-V-E, I don’t think there’s anything remotely fantasy about having “it all”—job that you love, hobby you heart, and a fine man that you can’t live without! Will all of this land on your front door with the Post? Probably Not! Will it all miraculously be there tomorrow? Again, probably not, but if we get too overwhelmed obsessing about the destination, we will have missed a rather amazing journey, and I fancy the twists and turns on the journey are what ultimately make the destination so damn worthwhile!
Rashana: What advice can you give to any upcoming authors?
Erika: Get ready for the ride of your life! Writing your story through completion will be one of the most gratifying things you’ve ever done. Then RE-WRITE it. Then RE-WRITE it again! THEN . . . the real work begins. Purchase “The Writer’s Market” if you don’t have an agent or if your cousin Pooky and dem ain’t running ish over at St. Martin’s or Random House. The Writer’s Market is the Publishing Industry Bible and will help you tremendously and cut your runnin’-in-circles-chasing-your-tail time in half. Perfect your query letter then send it off to the leaders of the lit world. In the interim, write as often as you can. Find your voice. Perfect your voice. And read everything you can get your hands on. Oh yeah, and then pray—A LOT!
Rashana: What is your opinion on the state of black literature?
Erika: “Black Literature” is a tricky beast that’s been captured and caged by the zookeeper that is the publishing industry. There are many talented writers/authors/literary visionaries who haven’t been given a chance to contribute in the marketplace. On the flip side, there are those that have been given a coveted shot to sign on the dotted but end up with no marketing/promo $ allocated to their budget. This publishing paradox is frightening, particularly as more street/urban lit seizes the shelves at Barnes & Noble in Anywhere, USA. I believe in balance on the literary landscape and support the entire African American umbrella that reps children’s books, multicultural romance, celebrity tell-alls, and self-help-your-way-to-a-better-life books as long as there is fairly equal representation under that umbrella and no significant genre is being relegated to the back of the bus where it’s wet.
Rashana: What is currently in your clutch (those can’t leave home without it necessities and must have beauty products)
Erika: My clutch that I’m currently pimpin’ is an oversized metallic red retro-chic armpiece with a gold mini-handle that I inherited from my snazzy jazzy grandmother. Inside you’ll find my “Ooh Baby” MAC Lipglass, MAC dab concealer, pressed powder, my B.F.F that is my cell, my Illinois driver’s license (shhh, don’t tell Spitzer/Bloomberg and dem), a hanky, a few maxed-out credit cards, a hairbrush for my extra long horse, a few sticks of very minty gum, lavender lotion, and my house keys to crawl back to my bed after that grueling albeit glam night in Gotham!
Rashana: So what are you working on right now?
Erika: Right now I’m taking a mini break from finishing the 2nd book of my 2 book deal with Random House which is a spin off of Confessions of a Rookie Cheerleader. My deadline is creeping up behind me ready to attack and the literary Rockstars at Random House have pinky sworn that the book should drop sometime early next year (think late spring/early summer).
I’m also in talks to option the film rights to Confessions… and co-write the screenplay. I’m already tossing ideas round and round in my mind about the 3rd and 4th books, which I’m uber excited to write and escort to the silver screen as well. I’ll make sure one of the upcoming stories is a love story about a young woman in her 20’s dealing with Bipolar Disorder. That story is tentatively entitled SUICIDE WATCH.
Common put it best when he said, “I write for my life cuz I’m scared of a day job.”
Check her out!