Karen Sloan-Brown, Ed.D, is the Lab Coordinator at Molecular Biology Care Facility in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Sloan-Brown completed her degrees in Chemistry and Education Administration and Supervision, with specilization in Higher Education Funding at Tennessee State University (2009). She is an Achieves Mentor for students transitioning from high school to college. She is also the author of several books, the non-fiction “A Reflection: What a Difference a Day Makes, What About 100 Years?” and “Educating the Nation on a Shrinking Budget,” and three novels, “The Fortunes of Blues and Blessing,” “Searching for Everland,” and “A New Season: The Fortunes of Blues and Blessings Book II.” She lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, Tennessee.
Q & A with Karen Sloan-Brown
Can you tell us four words that describe your writing style?
I would say narrative, descriptive, informative and imaginative. I like to tell the story after setting the stage. I want my readers to be entertained and still learn something they didn’t know.
Do you have a writing process? If yes, briefly explain.
I usually start with a subject I’m interested in, an experience I’ve had, or situation I want to write about and build a story around it. Then I put together a group of characters and outline the story.
Why do you write books?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer but I was a very practical child. My mother always told me that I needed to prepare to be able to take care of myself. I didn’t think I would be able to make a living as a writer. I went to college and majored in Chemistry and worked in research for many years. I went back to school in 2006 and spent a lot of time writing papers and then my dissertation. I was inspired to write my first book after Barack Obama was elected. It was a black history book. Then somebody suggested I do some historical fiction. I did and I’ve been writing nonstop ever since.
What genre do you write in? Why do you believe this genre chose you?
I write nonfiction and fiction, but no specific genre, it depends on what I feel compelled to work on at the time. For the most part I write African American fiction. There’s a whole spectrum to cover in that. I think a good book should touch all the emotions, it should make you wonder, make you laugh, make you cry and inspire you.
Describe your ideal place of escape to write your books.
My ideal place would be on a beach front property somewhere. In the meantime, I have an office in my home where I write in from of the window. Rainy days are the best for my thoughts to flow.
Tell us about your current book.
My current book is called Daniel, Luke and John. It’s about the dynamic relationship between father and sons. Luke grows up wanting to be everything his father, John wasn’t. He meets the love of his life, they have two children, and they build a successful company together. Luke wants his son Daniel to take it over but he wants to be a boxer. His daughter wants to run it but that’s not the life he wants for her. It’s a story about family, coming of age, love, loss and disappointment.
What is one tip you would give authors on how to show appreciation for their readers?
Give them what readers crave, a good book that takes them on a complete journey, no shortcuts, and then write them another one.
If you could collaborate on a book with any author, who would it be and why?
I would collaborate with Toni Morrison. She has a great imagination and life experiences to draw from. She’s a fearless writer. I think I could keep her a bit more grounded by adding more of a touch of realism to the project. Together I think we could write another “Great American Novel.”
What is your favorite thing to do before a book signing?
I’ve got to get my hair done. I usually feel anxious and that calms me.
What city would you love to have a book signing or speaking engagement?
Philadelphia. It’s my home town. I would love to go to my high school and speak to young minds in the making. It’s nothing like going home and being appreciated for the hard work you’ve done.
What is your favorite drink or beverage?
I drink a lot of green tea, at least three cups a day brewed hot, but on the weekend. I kick my shoes off and mellow out with one black folks’ favorite, a glass of smooth cognac.
Are you a early bird or night owl?
Neither one. I’m probably primetime. However, I have the greatest inspirations and mental breakthroughs when I’m taking my shower in the morning. It’s probably because my mind is still clear and I’m relaxed. I take advantage of that on the weekends. During the week I work full-time so I like to write in the evenings. After 11:00 my brain shuts down.
What advice would you give younger self?
Don’t be so cautious, take risks. Believe in yourself and go after that dream with all you have.
What is one thing you would change about your life?
I wouldn’t have wasted so much time. It’s one thing you can never get back.
What is your motto for life and career?
Find something you enjoy doing and work your ass off doing it. There’s no reward without hard work.
What is your favorite scripture or quote?
Psalms 121:1-2 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord who hath made heaven and earth.
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About the Book
The only thing Luke was sure of is that he didn’t want to be like his father, John. Raised on one-way ghetto street in North Philly, the odds weren’t in his favor. Nothing special had ever happened to him until he met Ruthie on the day Martin Luther King Jr. Was killed. When Ruthie got pregnant, he finally had something to live for. Even being drafted into Vietnam wasn’t about to take that away from him.
Back home Ruthie did hair to help make ends meet and developed cream that made kinky hair curly. Together she and Luke built a successful cosmetic company. Luke’s dream was to pass it on to his son, Daniel. Daniel doesn’t want it, he wants to box and be the next Mike Tyson. This is a story of love, loss, success, disappointment, redemption and acceptance.