I ‘met’ Danielle Allen a couple of years ago online, but it wasn’t until the past year when we really started to become close. What we discovered is there are a lot of parallels in our personalities and lives. It started out as our mutual obsession with creating hysterical banter about a couple of talented British men and has become deeper as time goes by. We’ve worked on two projects together, and have a third we have partially completed.
Our love of Edgar Allen Poe had us both writing a story based on The Raven at the same time, without either knowing until a vague Facebook post was made, which in turn grew into working together to promote each other’s work. We also have both have strong beliefs that everyone deserves equal rights, and that by using education and love we can make this world a better place. That is why she was the first call I made when I had the idea to publish a book that would benefit the Americans Civil Liberties Union. I am awed and inspired by her, and very lucky to call her my friend.
When the assignment came up to interview her for Venus Scribe I jumped all over it. Here’s my little chat with a wonderful woman named Danielle Allen.
M. Good morning! Thank you, Danielle, for being my first interview for Venus Scribe. How are you doing this beautiful Sunday morning?
Danielle: Hi Michele! I’m happy you and Venus Scribe thought of me so thanks for having me. Today is a good day. How are you?
M. Great! We have every window in the house open and enjoying the fresh air. So, for people who haven’t picked up one of your books yet, how would you describe them?
Danielle: That’s a good question! My stories are all first-person and I strive to suck the reader into the mind and world of whatever character is narrating. But if I had to pick a word to sum up all of them, I would have to describe my novels as diverse. Each book is diverse insofar as they are completely different. None of them are the same or are a retelling of anything I’ve ever read before. But most notably, each book is diverse because it features a cast of prominent characters of different races to reflect a less common vantage point within the contemporary romance genre.
M. My favorite cover of yours is Work Song. I love how your books are so diverse, just like the world we live in. Underneath it all, we are all the same, same love, same fears, same happiness and you are excellent in showing how similar we all are.
Danielle: Thank you love! That is my goal every single time I write something. Love is everythingand it’s so powerful and it is such a unifying force. Regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, wealth, we all love. We all seek love and we all want to be loved. To only see one type of person, fall in love again and again paints a picture as if that fairytale only happens for one type of person. So, I try to normalize the idea of Black women having the fairytale too. Because in reality, we all love and want to be loved.
M: And that is what it boils down it, isn’t it? Love. There is a reason the romance genre, no matter which type it is, is so popular.
Danielle: I 100% agree with that!
M. Is there anything you’ve learned from your characters?
Danielle: Writing and creating is such a cathartic process so I learn so much about me and what I want and need and live by way of creating these worlds for my characters who sometimes make choices that are wildly different from my own.
M. Isn’t that so much fun? I know I have a character Evie, and I love her. In my mind that is me, when in actuality, I’m so different. Which one of your characters is closest to you, and/or the most opposite?
Danielle: I can’t wait to meet Evie!! The character that is most like me is probably Tatiana Green from Work Song. People who know me and who have read the book often remark that they see so much of my personality in Tati. The character who is most unlike me is Sahara Lee from Back to Life and Back to Reality. She cries A LOT.
M. Oh boy! In my head if I see you crying, it would have to be for something huge. To me you are always so full of life and happiness.
Danielle: Haha! I am full of life and happiness…and I also cry. I think crying is a great release when necessary or if you’re just hurting for some reason. But I never cry for long because I’m truly blessed. And that doesn’t at all mean that everything in my life is perfect or right or that I don’t have obstacles. It just means that I recognize how my relationship with God has blessed me and whatever it is I’m crying about, He’ll work it out.
M. Even when things seem at their worst, you need to look up and realize all you have to be thankful for. You spend a lot of time building people up and inspiring them, why does this mean so much to you? What do you hope people will learn from you?
Danielle: With a background in counseling, my passion is to uplift, inspire, and empower. I think the reason people don’t overcome some of the hardships they face is partially because they don’t think they can. Also, people don’t overcome some of the hardships they face (partially) because they’ve created a race in their mind and they’re constantly comparing/racing against someone else.
We live in a time where people are inundated with social media images as their main source of information, guidance, and competition. They see the best parts of other people’s lives and compare their reality to someone else’s perfectly cropped, filtered, and stylized reality. That constant comparison to others strips and cripples the self-esteem. And one of the things that I hope people learn about me and from me is that the relationship I have with myself is the most important relationship that I have (outside of the one I have with God). So, I hope to encourage people to find themselves, love themselves and be good to themselves.
M. That’s something we need more of in today’s society. I know what it was like for me growing up, and the pressure to be perfect and fit in. I can’t imagine what kids are going through today, at an even earlier age. People should be celebrating their differences, to learn from them, enjoying being unique and not like everyone else. Because that image they present, isn’t what they are actually living.
Danielle: Yes! I absolutely agree with everything you said. It was definitely hard growing up with that pressure, but now everyone, children and adults alike, find themselves in this constant state of middle school-esque “fitting in” by way of social media. You are absolutely right–we should be celebrating differences, rooting for someone else’s come-up, extending a hand for someone in need and enjoying our own lives to the fullest.
M. Which book, or story, are you most proud of, that means the most to you?
Danielle: I’m proud of every single book that I’ve written. From the one that has sold the most to the one that has sold the least, I’m proud of each of them. I make sure that I am in love with each product so that at the end of the day, I know that I’m putting out my best–regardless of what anyone else says. Because books are subjective and they take us on a very personal journey.
If I had to pick one, it would be Back to Life because I wrote that with no intentions of publishing. I wrote that for me to see if I could do it since it was on my list of things to do (before I turned 30) and I was running out of time. So, I sat down and committed to writing something that I’d never read before and I am truly proud of that. Even though I am a much stronger writer now, I won’t ever go back and change Back to Life and Back to Reality because that will always be a reminder of where I was and who I was at the beginning of my author journey.
M. Sometimes we need that reminder of where we came from to see how far we have traveled. What project do you have coming up next?
Danielle: My next project is The Art of Being, a nonfiction project dedicated to hopefully uplift, empower, and motivate, coming April 2017. It is a collection of life lessons, positive messages, affirmations, and poetry. If I had to pick a non-fiction genre, it would be inspirational. It is my hope that it will be something that someone will pick up time and time again when they need it. They will read a certain passage or chapter and get the love it was written with out of it. Sometimes people need something or someone to lift them up and I hope The Art of Being does that for everyone who reads it. It will basically be my version of being a life coach and personal cheerleader. I’m really excited about it!
M. Oh! I can’t wait to read that! I know you have inspired and uplifted me plenty of times in our friendship. I can’t wait to put that on my bookshelf!
Danielle: I love you Thank you!
M. I love you too! Now, tell everyone where they can find you in person this year! Side note: One of these days we are going to be in the same place at the same time. I demand hugs.
Danielle: No seriously! We need to figure out how to be at the same place at the same time.
Danielle: I will be in Houston in April at the Girl Have You Met! Author Event on April 8th. I will be in New York in August at the Behind The Pen signing on August 12th. And I will be assisting Brittainy Cherry in New York at the Big Apple signing if you just want a hug and an encouraging word.
M. I know I want a hug and an encouraging word
Danielle: Please tell me that means you’ll be in New York in October!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
M. I’d love to be in New York in October, we’ll have to see if I can get any airline deals since I’m also in Chicago that month. I think I just need to go to Richmond for you and Carey Heywood. And then we’d totally have to go to the Poe Museum together.
Danielle: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS can you come to Richmond? I think that is what needs to happen. Let’s schedule this TODAY!
M. Before we sign off for the day is there anything else you want to say? Anything I might have missed?
Danielle: I can’t think of anything else except THANK YOU! I appreciate being featured and I appreciate anyone who has taken the time to read one of my novels. I’m not a big name (yet!) but my stories are good and in each book that I’ve written, I’ve tried to weave in something for you to take away with you. Thank you for having me on Venus Scribe and for everyone reading, thank you for reading!
M. Thank you so much for taking time out of your Sunday to talk with me, other than our normal Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston obsessive conversations.
Danielle: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS me and you plus Idris and Tom is EVERYTHING!
Follow Danielle Allen on Amazon to discover all her latest releases. You won’t be disappointed.