“I am a dual creative. When I am acting (whether in film or theater), I am bringing stories to life through my performance. When I write novels, I am bringing moments to life through my written narrative. In both mediums, I am taking my audience on a journey and completely immersing them in the experience.”

From the time I wrote and illustrated my first picture book at age six, I knew I wanted to be an author. I can remember accompanying my mother to stores and begging to go to the book section while she shopped, or sitting in the aisles of Barnes and Noble or Waldenbooks for hours on end. Books have always been my outlet. In particular, there were a few authors I gravitated to, and whose work I have used as inspiration when it comes to the art of storytelling. Here, I shed light on those authors who have influenced me the most.

Kimberla Lawson Roby

Kimberla Lawson Roby is the Queen of Plot Twists. Just when I think I have figured it out, she will snatch me in a completely different direction. Her signature technique keeps her stories fresh and intriguing because I want—no need—to find out what happens next. Roby also has a knack for jaw-dropping scandal and memorable characters that keep me up at night. Her talent is truly remarkable. I try to emulate Roby’s talent for creating amazing twists that suspend readers on a roller coaster of emotions. Like her, my intention is for my audience to expect the unexpected.

Dr. Maya Angelou

I am far from alone in admiring Dr. Maya Angelou’s ability to craft poetic prose that sounds almost musical. She has a way with putting together words that speak directly to emotions and has an underlying depth that will resonate even after you finish her piece. In my writing, I try to channel my inner Maya Angelou with my word usage, keeping my language smooth and poetic while carrying enough depth to make you think.

Terry McMillan

Terry McMillan is amazing with her character development. I can become so engrossed in her stories because not only are they entertaining, but her characters are so real and relatable I think of them as friends and family. She is able to write them off the page in such a way that I am rooting for them. Their voices, their actions, their thoughts, their lives are so real. I care about them. When I write, I keep Terry McMillan in mind and try to bring the same humanity and authenticity to my characters. Like her, I want my characters to speak to readers and whether you love or hate them, you are invested in their stories and outcomes.

Nora Roberts

Growing up, my bookshelf was packed with every Nora Roberts book released. I could devour a Nora Roberts book in a day or two because she could create a romance story that made my heart melt. Pair that with little gems of Nora-esque suspense and I had a recipe for an amazing read cover-to-cover. Because I love love, readers can expect to find romance woven throughout my stories. I channel Nora’s amazing ability to express love through the written word and I try to use that as a blueprint for the romantic elements in my books.

Victoria Christopher Murray

My sorority sister, Victoria Christopher Murray, is an expert when it comes to spinning an engaging, drama-filled story. I also love how her writing flows and she is able to create a world that is almost cinematic in its presentation. Each Victoria Christopher Murray book feels almost as if I am watching a movie that is keeping me on the edge of my seat. I use her work as a reminder to achieve that perfect balance of show and tell to create immersive and evocative realities.