Urban Reviews: Tell our
readers about Fast Forward.
Celeste O. Norfleet: Fast Forward
is about the drama filled life of fifteen year old suburban
teenager, Kenisha Lewis. The story begins a few weeks after my
first YA novel, Pushing Pause ends. Itís a
continuation, but it also stands alone as a separate story. In
Fast Forward Kenisha heads back to school after her
life has been turned upside down by a very traumatic
experience. She soon realizes that too many things have
changed, including her. She feels angry, confused and alone
and begins to act out. She starts getting into trouble and
eventually gets expelled from school. Thatís when the drama
Urban Reviews: Where did
you come up with the concept for this particular story?
Celeste O. Norfleet: In Pushing Pause I
ended the novel with Kenisha Lewis getting back to her normal
life. In Fast Forward I wanted to show that it wasnít
as easy as she and others thought it would be. Using this
concept I explored the idea of Kenishaís character moving too
fast while holding onto a lot of anger. I also wanted to have
her make some bad choices and get into some very dangerous
situations. I intensified each situation she found herself in
to heighten the drama. The result is a fast paced read with a
lot of tension and angst making an interesting story even
Urban Reviews: How did
you come to the decision to start writing YA fiction?
Celeste O. Norfleet: In lingo directed
more to my teen readers, it was a no-brainer. I have two
teenagers at home and I noticed that reading books didnít
interest them as much anymore. When I asked about this they
told me that they felt the characters didnít reflect their
experiences. To some extent they were right, the industry
lacked books reflecting the real lives of African-American
teens. So, when I heard about a new young adult line called
Kimani TRU, I was excited to submit. Iíve always wanted to
expand my writing experience to different markets and I saw
writing for teens as a great beginning. I have some great
ideas for young adult novels and Iím delighted to have the
opportunity to develop them.
Urban Reviews: You are
also a romance writer. What was the hardest part about
transitioning to writing a young adult title?
Celeste O. Norfleet: I think the hardest
part about transiting from writing romance to writing young
adult novels was finding my teen voice each time. When I first
started writing I decided that I didnít want my YA novels to
sound preachy and moralistic. Also, I didnít want them to
sound like an adult writing for teens. I wanted them to be as
real and as close to authentic as possible, so that readers
could fell the genuine angst and urgency of teen life through
my characters. To help me accomplish this when I'll writing
now I delve into and focus on all aspects of teen life. I
listen to rap, hip-hop and go-go music, I watch dozens of
videos and teen programming and I basically immerse myself in
that world. This definitely helps me write from a teenís point
of view. Of course I also rely very heavily on my two teen
experts, Christopher (17) and Jennifer (15).
Urban Reviews: Are there
any other genres you have written or would like to write in
Celeste O. Norfleet: At this point Iím
very happy writing single title romance, category romance and
teen fiction. But as a future possibility, Iíd like to write
paranormal, futuristic and mainstream womenís fiction. Iím
sure that as soon as the right opportunity arises, Iíll
Urban Reviews: If there
was one thing you could do differently regarding your literary
journey, what would it be?
Celeste O. Norfleet: Excellent question!
I think I would have studied more when it came to the
mechanics of writing. I would have taken more classes focused
on the actual writing process such as grammar, punctuation,
editing, etc. Itís important when writing to be creative and
develop a great story and fascinating characters, but itís
equally important to get the story across in a clean concise
Urban Reviews: What other
upcoming projects can we look forward to from you?
Celeste O. Norfleet: 2009 is an exciting
year. I have four brand new books being released. In February
Fast Forward was released with Kimani TRU. Itís gotten
great reviews and Iím very proud of it. In June, Sultry
Storm, my first Kimani Romance category novel will be
released. Thereís already a major buzz and excellent reviews.
In September, When It Feels So Right will be released
with Kimani Romance and in November, Love Me Now will
be released with Kimani Arabesque. Love Me Now is the
much anticipated continuation of the Matchmaker Series
featuring beloved character, Louise ďMamma LouĒ Gates. Next
year will also be very exciting, so watch for more books
coming out in 2010.
Urban Reviews: Do you
have any favorite authors or books?
Celeste O. Norfleet: Yes, I have quite a
few favorite authors, but my top three are my author friends,
Michelle Monkou, Candice Poarch and Kimberly Kaye Terry. As
for my favorite books, itís impossible to even begin listing
Urban Reviews: What advice
do you have for all the aspiring authors out there?
Celeste O. Norfleet: My advice to
aspiring authors is to never give up. Even when it seems that
no one is feeling your work, donít give up. Keep writing.
Believe me, the right editor is out there. Also write the best
manuscript you can, study and know the craft and market,
remember this is first and foremost a business.
Urban Reviews: Is there
anything else you would like to share about yourself or your
Celeste O. Norfleet: Yes, Iíd like to
thank you for inviting me to participate. Itís been a lot of
fun. Iíd also like to thank all my readers for their
dedication, encouragement and enthusiasm, know that I will
continue to write sexy, passionate romance and dramatic young
adult fiction. Make sure to pick up a copy of Pushing Pause,
Fast Forward, Sultry Storm, When It Feels So
Right and Love Me Now.