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Author Interview: Monika M. Pickett Chats about The Darkest Shade of Blue

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Get ready to learn more about the book The Darkest Shade of Blue in this discussion with sapphic author Monika M. Pickett.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Monika M. Pickett about The Darkest Shade of Blue, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the No Strings Attached category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write The Darkest Shade of Blue?

I wrote this book because I did not see the narratives and contributions of African American lesbians.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

My favorite character is the main protagonist, Nikki Blue. Nikki is my favorite character because no matter the trial, she never gives up. This character is similar to me in that we both are optimists. The glass is always half full versus half empty.

What inspired the idea for The Darkest Shade of Blue?

As I recovered from a stroke, there was a sense of urgency to recreate myself. I had to pivot in my career from a school administrator to an Indie author.

What was the biggest challenge writing this book?

The biggest challenge in writing this book was reliving childhood traumas that I thought I buried.

What part of The Darkest Shade of Blue was the most fun to write?

The most fun part of the book to write was writing characters based on real people who counted me out.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

God sent me the title early one morning. Although I present as feminine, I always felt like a pretty boy on the inside. The word ‘blue’ represents the sadness I felt from being bullied in high school for being an ‘out’ lesbian.

How much research did you need to do for The Darkest Shade of Blue)?

My research was minimal as the trilogy is loosely based on my life.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

The trilogy is complete. I am currently working on adapting the trilogy into a screen play.

What is your favorite line from your book?

My favorite line from The Darkest Shade of Blue is “Everyone knows that pregnant pussy is the best pussy in the world.”

What is your writing process like?

My writing process consists of writing my manuscripts by hand before editing the typed draft. I am more of a plotter. I love an unexpected plot twist! There are no parts I wish I could change.

Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

I usually write in my bed at night. I need peace and quiet for a productive writing session. I also need several pens and a Moutain Dew for all-nighters. Don’t judge me!

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

If I could spend a day with another popular author it would be James Baldwin. I would choose Mr. Baldwin because I could only imagine the trials and tribulations he must have endured as a Black, Gay author. My favorite book by James Baldwin is Giovanni’s Room which falls under LGBTQ fiction.

What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?

My favorite writing snack is Twizzlers and Coffee for regular sessions and Mountain Dew for all-nighters. Slowly chewing on the Twizzlers gives me time to think and replay a scene in my mind. Coffee and Moutain Dee keeps my adrenaline pumping.

How do you celebrate when you finish your book?

I celebrate by sleeping all day before taking my mother out to eat.

Is there a particular genre you would love to write but only under a pseudonym?

No, I decided never to use a pseudonym because I want the people who bullied me to remember my name.

Do you have any odd writing quirks?

One of my writing quirks is to read certain lines in the voice of the character.

Do you have a pet who helps/hinders your typing?

No, I do not have a pet but my mother harasses me about getting enough sleep when I’m writing. She is a feisty, 75 year old Jersey Girl who loves God but cusses a lot.

What animal or object best represents you as an author or your writing style?

The animal that represents me as an author or my writing style is the eagle. When things get rough, I center myself and soar above the chaos and mediocrity.

What are three words that describe your personality?

Empathic, Kind and Confident. I always try to be kind and empathetic because you never know what someone is going through. A smile or a kind word can change someone’s day. I recently saw an older woman in the bank and told her that she looked fabulous. Her worn face turned into a radiant smile as she thanked me.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

The most valuable piece of advice I’ve been given about was given to me by one of my professors in business school. He told me to surround myself with people with people who are e perts in the areas I am not. It has made all the difference in the world. For example, I am a writer, not an editor. Therefore, I earmark a specific portion of my budget for top editors. You get what you pay for.

What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?

The thing that has helped me in writing a book is listening to others who have the expertise that I do not have. If my editor recommends cutting a character or a scene, then I cut it.

When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?

When writing an emotional or difficult scene, I allow myself to travel back to a time where I felt similar emotions.

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

I try to write in a style that shows emotions rather than tell what the emotions are.

If you could be mentored by a famous author (living or not), who would it be?

It would be James Baldwin.

What author in your genre do you most admire, and why?

I am not familiar with any authors who have written lesbian erotica as salacious as I have. Not that they don’t exist but I’ve been so busy recuperating from several relapses and writing my own books. I need to follow and support other authors who write in my genre. Yes.

Have you ever cried when writing an emotional scene?

Yes. I have cried when writing and even during a few readings. Writing and reading about the time when the love of my life was diagnosed with breast cancer. The scene where I shaved my head so she wouldn’t feel alone in losing her hair is often a trigger.

Do you feel bad putting your characters through the wringer?

I laughed out loud at this question! Hell no! I don’t feel bad putting characters through the wringer simply because it is more than likely warranted. An example is from The Evolution of Nikki Blue…Nikki’s wife cheated on her with a younger, richer woman and tried to leave Nikki with nothing. When Nikki finally received her first alimony payment, she played Rihanna’s ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ as she and her sister cackled into the sunset.

Have you ever hated one of your characters?

No, I never hated one of my characters but I did want karma to visit them. No, I didn’t want people to hate them but to understand that sometimes it’s a blessing that God doesn’t always give us what we want. The character earned my dislike by constantly using others. No, they were not able to redeem themselves because that was who they truly are.

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

I enjoy reading fiction. I am drawn to fiction because If you’re a good writer and study teller, I won’t be able to discern what is real or imagined. I like to be taken on a ride.

Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?

Toni Morrison inspired me to become a writer.

To paraphrase, “If there is a book that you want to read, and has not been written, then you must write it.”

What books did you grow up reading?

I grew up reading various books from Ruby Fruit Jungle to The Bluest Eye. These books shaped me as a writer in that I often want to write about things readers are afraid to speak of but may identify with.

What books have you read more than once in your life?

I have read Soul Mates and Twin Flames more than once. It is not about a story perse but more about why and how we meet our significant others and why are we drawn to each other.

Describe your favorite reading spot.

In my bedroom with old school music that brings up emotions.

Meet Monika M. Pickett

Monika M. Pickett is a veteran of the United States Army. She served as a medic in Operation Desert Storm. She is a LGBTQIA advocate. She is a stroke survivor who pivoted in her career to become an Indie author. She earned a MBA from Johns Hopkins University, Maryland in 2005.

Visit Monika M. Pickett’s Website

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