Good Monday Morning, reader friends!
Today, we’re talking with Chandra Sparks Splond about her book “It’s Like That.”
Interview with Chandra Sparks Splond about her book It’s Like That (Grown Zone Book 1):
Alexis: Why did you write this book?
Chandra: First, thanks so much for having me. I decided to write It’s Like That for my very first readers, many of whom were teenagers when my first book Spin It Like That was released. It’s Like That follows the main character Jasmine Richardson who is now an adult and dealing with adult issues, just like my first readers are doing in this season of life. I wanted to give them a character with which they were familiar who is dealing with issues to which they can relate right now.
Alexis: How did you come up with the title for your book?
Chandra: The title It’s Like That is a spin of my very first book, Spin It Like That. I wanted something that connected the books.
Alexis: How important was it to you to have a woman of color with natural hair on the cover of your book? Why?
Chandra: Having a woman of color with natural hair on the cover of It’s Like That was extremely important to me. There’s also what looks like a younger version of the character on the cover of Spin It Like That. When I was growing up, I never saw book covers with people who looked like me, so I make it a point to include characters to which African-American readers can relate on all my book covers.
Alexis: Have you always written stories that feature main characters of color for the Christian fiction book market? Why or why not?
Chandra: All of my fiction books and my poetry book feature main characters of color. I think it’s very important to give African-American readers stories to which they can relate and apply to the reality of their lives.
Alexis: Tell us about your story It’s Like That. What is the core message?
Chandra: At its core, It’s Like That is a story about the power of your dreams. As we get older, often our dreams die or change. When Jasmine was 16, she dreamed of being a deejay, which was fine when her parents were paying all the bills. Now at 26, she finds herself in a career about which she’s not passionate, and she’s re-examining her dreams. I want readers to know that the path to your dreams isn’t always straight and that even if it changes over time, everything you do in the in-between all works together for our good.
Alexis: Who is your target audience for this book and in what ways do you hope that this story will impact your readers?
Chandra: My target audience is the New Adult market (ages 18 to 30). It’s my prayer that readers will see themselves in the story and realize even if you get off track, it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.
Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Jasmine Richardson. What does she look like, act like, sound like, and think like?
Chandra: Jasmine is a feisty redhead who has had a passion for music since she was a kid. After suffering a tragic loss ten years ago, she has calmed down a lot, and life has taken her on a different career path than she thought it would. She often acts without thinking things through. As a kid, she had her parents to bail her out, but as an adult, she has to figure some things out for herself.
Alexis: Does your story have a hero or is it all about Jasmine? Why or why not?
Chandra: This story is all about Jasmine, although she has great friends and family to support her along the way.
Alexis: What is it about singing songs and creating lyrics that Jasmine loves?
Chandra: The better question would probably be what is it about singing songs and creating lyrics that Jasmine doesn’t love? LOL. Music is in Jasmine’s blood. She has lived and breathed it since she was a kid. She got her love of music from her father who was once a part of a music group with her uncle for whom she now works.
Alexis: How does Jasmine cope with the tragic loss that she experienced ten years ago and how does her loss still affect her today?
Chandra: Jasmine deals with the loss by cutting all ties with music and deciding to become an attorney. It only takes one encounter with the microphone during karaoke night with her friends for her to realize she still loves music though. Her realization that she still has that passion makes her start re-examining her life.
Alexis: Jasmine faces a real-world problem in your fiction story: Following your passion while still trying to pay the bills! In what ways do you hope that her story, though fictional, inspires your readers (especially the creative types) in the real world?
Chandra: I hope readers realize that you are never too old or too young, and it’s never too late for your dreams to come true. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve known since I was 14 that I’ve wanted to write books, but I didn’t actually sit down to write one until I was in my 30s. Before then, I was working as an editor, so I spent my days around the written word, but after I had my daughter in 2004, I realized I couldn’t tell her to go for her dreams if I never went for mine. I challenged myself to write a book before she turned one. I finished my first manuscript a month after her first birthday, and the rest is history. To this day, editing still pays most of my bills, and it has become a part of my dreams, and doing so blesses others. I hope readers use my life and Jasmine’s as examples that your passion and your need to pay your bills can co-exist.
Alexis: Would you like to see more books like yours that feature main characters of color, published by CBA? Why or why not?
Chandra: I think seeing the CBA publish more books that feature main characters of color would be great. Representation is important. I also think that as a writer of color, I’m not going to wait on someone to make a seat at their table for me. As Tyler Perry said, I’ve decided to build my own table.
Alexis: If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do? Why?
Chandra: If I couldn’t be an author, I’d be an editor, which I’ve been blessed to do for more than 25 years. In addition to working for Good Housekeping magazine as a copy editor, I also was the consulting editor for BET Books/Arabesque, the African-American publishing imprint, where I acquired and edited books for authors like Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers, Leslie Esdaile, Celeste Norfleet, Kayla Perrin and Stacey Abrams (writing as Selena Montgomery). In addition to that, I’ve also been hired as a freelance editor for a lot of well-known authors like E. Lynn Harris, Travis Hunter, and Michael Baisden.
Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Chandra! Would you like to share closing thoughts?
Chandra: Thank you so much for the opportunity to share It’s Like That with your audience. It is my prayer they will check it out along with some of my other books.
They can find out about all of my books and read excerpts on my website, www.chandrasparkssplond.com.
I pray God’s blessings on everyone who reads this, and may your wildest dreams come true!
*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor
About the book:
After suffering a tragic loss ten years ago, twenty-six-year-old Jasmine Richardson has traded her love of lyrics for writing legal briefs. It only takes one encounter with the microphone for Jasmine to realize the music is still in her heart—if only it could pay the bills.
After making some bad decisions, Jasmine is thrown into a tailspin. She is forced to consider taking a case that could make her legal career from someone from her past. Suddenly, Jasmine finds herself questioning her future.
When the music is still in your heart, sometimes life forces you to make some tough decisions. Sometimes…it’s like that.
About the Author:
Chandra Sparks Splond is an editor, speaker and award-winning author and blogger.
Her young adult novel Make It Work was named Alabama’s Great Read 2017, Spin It Like That was chosen as a Popular Paperback for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and The Pledge was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Black Pearls Magazine honored Splond as a Legends & Leaders for 2017 for her blog, Book of Splond (formerly known as Magic City Momma).
Splond is the owner of West End Publishing, LLC, and Live Life Creations, a personalized gift and party boutique. In addition to working for Kensington Publishing as the consulting editor for Arabesque romance, Splond has also done work for Random House, Moody Publishers, Kimani Press (formerly known as BET Books), and Hyperion. She has edited books for several New York Times, USA Today and Essence bestselling authors.
Splond has interviewed New York Times bestselling authors Karen Kingsbury, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Eric Jerome Dickey and actress Meagan Good. She has also worked for Good Housekeeping, Black and Married with Kids, Brides Noir, Weddingpages, Newsday, The Morning Call and Romantic Times.
Of all the titles she has held, Splond’s most important remain child of God, wife and mommy.
Splond graduated from Ramsay High School in Birmingham, Alabama and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa with a degree in journalism. She received her master of science in education degree with a focus on instructional design and technology from Samford University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and resides in Birmingham with her family. They are members of Forty-fifth Street Baptist Church.