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 Inside Out
with Celeste O. Norfleet

Celeste O. Norfleet

National best-selling author, Celeste O. Norfleet, was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she also attended Moore College of Art and Design. Celeste was an art director and graphic designer for many years before turning her talents to writing. Now she devotes all of her time to creating great novels and letting her artistic imagination flow through the computer keys.

Her romance novels, realistic with a touch of humor, depict strong sexy characters with unpredictable plots and exciting storylines. Her young adult novels delve into dramatic fiction, reflecting current issues facing African-American teens.

Celeste currently writes for Harlequinís Kimani Press Arabesque, Kimani Romance and Kimani TRU (young adult) and she lives in Virginia with her husband and two teenagers.

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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 really begins.

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 better.

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 the future?
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 submit.

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 way.

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 them.

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 novel?
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.

Read our review of Fast Forward in the
AA Fiction section.