What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
I loved The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, who did a terrific job of capturing a particular flavor of modern American parenting at a particular moment in time. I would recommend it even to non-parents.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
I read my first Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye, last year. Embarrassed that it took me that long!
Do you re-read books? And if yes, what was your last re-read?
My to-be-read list is too long, and I am too slow as a reader to revisit books. Maybe later in life.
What are your go-to genres?
I tend to gravitate toward literary fiction and absolutely live for a spicy family saga.
What is your favorite childhood book?
I know it’s uncool to admit now, but I loved the first four Harry Potters—does that count as one book?
What books are on your bedside table right now?
Right now, my nightstand pile includes Trust by Hernan Diaz, Mother in the Dark by Kayla Maiuri, and Black Skinhead by Brandi Collins-Dexter.
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
What is your ideal reading setting?
A deep and comfy armchair in a quiet corner of the summer vacation rental.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
I loved Loyalty Books’ location on Upshur Street, in DC. It was two blocks away from my apartment and always a joy to pop my head into on my way home from work.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
As a child, I let comments that people made about my hair texture and skin tone impact my sense of self-worth.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I spent a month in New Orleans while reading the Island Beneath the Sea, a novel by Isabel Allende. The city and its history feature quite a bit. Although I was not on a literary pilgrimage per se, it was fun to see real life characters peppered around New Orleans street and park names.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
I like to brainstorm, marinate, and plot my writing while lying in bed, although I always have my phone or notebook to jot down ideas. The actual writing and editing I do at home, usually in the living room or at one of the long library-like tables in DC’s LINE hotel.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have 45,000 words of a novel’s first draft, and two or three short stories in progress.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read every single review although I might not keep that up for long. No bad one yet—the book is not out at the time of this answer—but when it happens, my plan is live and let live. I am at peace with my book not being for everyone.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell my younger self that Black stories are no less important or interesting than the lives elevated in the western canon.
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
When not reading or writing, I’m either hanging out with my husband and baby, or lawyering at my day job.
What are your three favorite things right now?
My three favorite things right now are the tv show Bear, the podcast Keeping Records, and … cherry season.
Your favorite travel destination and why?
I went to Amsterdam for the first time in 2017 and loved it so much. It was pedestrian-friendly, the museums were great, the pancakes were to die for, and the architecture was beautiful. Can’t wait to return.
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
Chicken and waffle, with a (hot) oat chai latte, no foam.
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
Toni Morrison, Eleanor Roosevelt, Adrianne Lenker, Sufjan Stevens, Abdul Al-Sayed, and Hernan Diaz.
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, who would play you?
Definitely a dramedy, featuring Sasheer Zamata.
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
I recently watched and loved BJ Novak’s Vengeance.
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
Zombie by The Cranberries.
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