BY: GREGORY HEDGEPETH
There are a million different independent book presses out there. What made you sign with Vital Narrative?
A: As cliché as it sounds, I feel like they chose me. I wasn’t even setting out to be an author honestly. I fell into it after an idea snowballed into this book. I’m so excited they did though. It feels amazing to be a part of something greater than me. I love the vision that’s being created.
What made you want to write this particular book?
It actually didn’t even start out as a novel. Initially, it was just an idea for a coloring book. I wanted to create a coloring book for people of color about girls who happen to be superheroes. Then I thought about how cool it would be if it had a story to go with it. And from there, it spiraled into what we have now.
Describe your writing process.
A: It’s nothing fancy - I just write. I have a notebook that I pour all my ideas and thoughts into. It’s more personal for me to use pen and paper.
What is your most unusual writing habit?
A: All my writing habits are pretty unusual. I normally blast music, sit criss-cross applesauce on the floor and rock side-to-side as I hum lyrics and write until my heart is content. That’s normal though, right?
Who would you cast to play in a live-action movie adaptation of your Royal Elite Squad?
A: I would love for Skai Jackson to play my studious song bird Janais. Kenzie would be played by Jenna Ortega from Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle. I'm not sure about Libby Gray and Adeema though. I would want to make sure I found someone who really embodies those characters.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
A: Hopefully as a very successful author, working on my sixth or seventh book. Married with a kid or two. I really hope to be at a point in my life where I have the means to help people and send smiles with ease.
What writing advice do you have for other authors (especially those looking to release their first book)?
A: Just write! That’s the hardest part. Write and don’t stop! No matter what. Your story needs to be told and only you can tell it.
Do you plan on reading your reviews?
A: Most definitely! I can’t wait to see what people have to say, both good and bad.
What's your least favorite thing about the writing process?
A: Revisions! I detest revisions. The actual writing part is easy, but continuously going back over the book and rewriting is so tedious and time-consuming.
What is your next project?
A: My next project will be the second installment of the Royal Elite Squad series. I will also be working on creating merchandise and doing speaking and empowering gigs for young teens.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
A: I was unemployed for months after being let go from one of my favorite jobs at a crucial point in my life. It took me awhile to get out of it. I had to rely on my faith in God and keep pushing until something happened. There were very hard days sometimes, but thankfully I made it through. Now, I have two jobs and I’m about to release my first book. Needless to say, God is good.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
A: Telekinesis/telepathy. I love being in control (which isn't always a good thing). But being able to control people’s minds and having control over matter in general would be dope.
What literary/movie/TV character is most like you?
A: Mindy from The Mindy Project. I identify with her so much. I love her awkward quirkiness.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
A: I want to inspire as many people as possible. I want to encourage the next generation to be greater. I want them to stand on my shoulders and see farther than I could ever see.
What were you like as a child? What was your favorite toy or activity?
A: I was (and still am) the hand game queen! I am talking about Slide, Shame, Down by the River, Double This Double That, etc. To this day, my hand game skills are A1.
What is your biggest fear?
A: Inadequacy. I always fear doing everything possible in my will and still not being good enough in the end.
What has been your biggest failure?
A: Not finishing college. I beat myself up about it all the time. I will finish though. I won’t let that hold me back anymore.
What has been your greatest triumph?
A: This book! This is such a top-of-the-steps, hands-in-the-air-like-Rocky-Balboa moment for me. All the hard work I put in is finally about to see some fruit. I’m elated.
What book do you wish you could have written?
A: The Great Gatsby or The Poisonwood Bible. I know those are two totally different books, but I love them both. They make you think and paint excellent visuals.
Q: Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
A: Nikki Giovanni and Rudy Francisco inspire me daily. I was introduced to Nikki Giovanni in ninth grade and reading her work made me want to write as well. Rudy Francisco is someone I fell in love with late in high school. His poems and delivery are phenomenal.
D.A. Alston’s first book, The Unlikely Tale of the Royal Elite Squad is available here.