I’m delighted to welcome Joiya Morrison-Efemini today to talk about her latest release, Petrified Flowers and this book could not be more relevant to today’s social climate.
Q: Where is your book, Petrified Flowers, set? And why did you pick your specific genre to write in?
Joiya: Petrified Flowers is set in a major Metropolitan City, probably New York. The exact location is never named specifically. It is written in verse.
I started writing in verse after an editor who was interested in my work urged me to change a children’s book I had written into a short story in verse. I was reluctant, thinking I knew best what form my story should take. To persuade me, she listed several books written in verse and encouraged me to read them. I read them all, but I was hooked ten pages into the first – Out of Dust by Karen Hesse. I changed the book into a short story, and I wrote it in verse. That was the beginning of my love of the written word, in verse.
Q: Tell us about your writing journey for this book, please.
The story of Iris and her sisters was conceived after my family and I watched the illuminating documentary Class Divide. It highlights the dichotomy in a section of New York City, where an elite private school sits directly across the street from a public housing complex. We were enthralled. It started a conversation in my family about socioeconomic status and race, and how those factors affect education in America. The tragedy in that reality kept swimming around in my head, so I decided to write about my feelings, in verse.
Q: Where is your happy place when you write? Indoors, outdoors, office, coffee shop?
I used to write on my couch with praise music or jazz in the background when my kids were in school. But, we are all living a new normal now, and I have been writing on my screened porch. The music of the birds, my kids laughing or arguing, and my neighbors living life outdoors surround me. There is no alone time for me now. I spent a lot of moments (too many moments) lamenting the loss of alone time. That has been counterproductive. I made the decision to embrace this time and to look at it as the blessing that it is – healthy, active children, God’s handiwork all around me, and my neighbors enjoying the outdoors more than ever too. Some days I fall back into mourning, but I’m fighting to enjoy life as we know it now.
I can relate to this so much, Joiya. Alone time is precious these days.
Q: What are you working on now?
I was researching and writing a novel in prose about a slave who marries a Cherokee woman in the 1800s. That novel continues to be put on the back burner for other projects that come up. Right now I’m writing a collection of poems that are helping me to process the trauma, my family has undergone as a result of African American oppression in this country. (America) The awareness that is occurring all over the world right now regarding racial inequality has been restorative for us.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In a fractured world, Flowers bud in the deluge of God’s favor.
In this Novel-in-Verse, tragedy uproots Iris and her sisters, all named after flowers, from the solid ground of middle-class life and plants them, unsupervised, in the rocky terrain of low-income housing. In a world where rain falls only on the privileged, Liam, a student who attends the elite private school directly across the street, proves refreshing as a summer gale, gushing joy into the sisters’ lives. Further nurtured by Ma Moore, a church elder who sprinkles the Flower sisters with spiritual wisdom, Iris embraces her Heavenly Father with steadfast urgency. But when a student takes a hopeless leap from the school roof, Iris withers under the scorching realization that everything she thought she knew about privilege—and God—lies crippled. Petrified Flowers is the anthem of one African-American girl straddling three worlds. It is a song of hope, a triumph of faith, and a resounding refrain of the Father’s eternal love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joiya is a wife, former attorney, current stay-at-home mom of four fantastic kiddos. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, where her kids attend all three levels of schooling – elementary, middle and high. She began writing off and on in 2012 after she realized that returning to a law career wasn’t conducive to happily raising four kids; for her. Although she says, “Other women do it brilliantly.” In 2017 my her publication, a collection of short stories, The Notes They Played, was released. And, in 2019, her first novel, The Impossible, was published. Joy loves to read, obviously. She reads at least 40 books a year. And, yes, the books she read to my kids do count! She runs socially, mostly as a way to connect with her close girlfriends. and has completed 2 marathons, and countless half marathon, 15K, 10K and 5K races.
You can find Joiya’s website here
Melony Teague writes contemporary romance with a dash of humor, she loves to inspire and motivate others through her written words, and she believes everyone has a story to tell. Melony is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and The Word Guild. She is the co-author of As the Ink Flows, a devotional for authors. Her fiction debut, A Promise to Keep released, Jan 21, 2020. Melony was born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto with her handsome husband, their two teenagers, and does the bidding of her two adorable cats.