Saturday, October 18, 2014

Q & A with Jade Alyse, Author of, When You Come to Me


Jade Alyse, author of, When You Come to Me, has been so gracious and kind enough to agree to be featured on the blog for a short Q & A. Below are some of the questions I asked her based on my reading experience of the book and what I was curious to know. Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
Q: What was your inspiration for writing, When You Come to Me?
Jade Alyse: At the time, I was only 19 or 20 years old, and a junior in college.  I was seeing someone of another race at the time, and thought I was head over heels.  We were very good friends, went to the same school, and spent a great deal of time together.  We’d mentioned perhaps attempting to date, but he was still reeling from a long term relationship he’d just gotten out of, and couldn’t decide what we wanted to do. I was ultimately devastated, and instead of discussing it with friends, I took to my laptop in between classes and started writing.  What came out was a cathartic release, and I felt better as I got into the book.  The first quarter of the story is semi-autobiographical, and the remainder is totally made up.
Q: How did you come up with Natalie Chandler's character?
Jade Alyse:  My friends and family who have read this book in its iterations over the years have said that Natalie is me. As a matter of fact, my boyfriend read it over the summer and told me that he had to take a break from reading my books because Natalie’s character hit too close to home for him.  I’ll argue to the death that while Natalie’s character and my character in real life are similar, there are some things she went through that shaped her guardedness and subtle introversion. Ultimately, I wanted to create a heroine who was believable, intelligent, and while she was innately difficult and complicated, I wanted the reader to still be able to see and feel why Brandon might have fallen for her so quickly.  I honestly don’t think I’m nearly as complicated as Natalie. 
Q: Why did it take Brandon so long to realize that Natalie was the one?
Jade Alyse: I’m not sure Brandon had difficulty realizing that Natalie was the one.  I think it was the opposite.  I’m sure that other readers will agree that Brandon knew from the very beginning that Natalie was the one.  I believe that it was hard for him to let go of the relationship that he had with Sophia, which could be interpreted as Brandon being hesitant on Natalie.  But I’ll say that while his actions lagged in snagging Natalie, his feelings were there the whole time.  When it came to Natalie, however, I believe that it took her quite a bit (the majority of the book) to realize that Brandon was the one for her, and that he wasn’t going anywhere.
Q: Is there any particular message you wanted to send to young girls, and women, through Natalie's character?
Jade Alyse: I think in spite of Natalie’s general reluctance to let go and embrace a new relationship, I intended to portray Natalie as an independent, uber-intelligent, and ambitious young black woman.  I was wholly inspired by the women who not only raised me (my mother and my grandmother), but some of my closest friends as well (also young black females), who are just as smart and talented, and “break the mold”, so to speak, when it comes to breaking down those color barriers. 
Q: In my opinion, the southern charm and culture is the essence of your book. Why did you rely so heavily on culture?
Jade Alyse: I grew up in the South, and I loved it, and still love it.  I believe that our cultural makeup has a great deal to do with how we view things and people, and sometimes it’s hard to break out of those molds and adopt new ways of thinking.  My emphasis on Natalie’s southern charm and her upbringing was my way of displaying not only her disposition, but perhaps her cultural ignorance and/or limitations.  Natalie wasn’t raised in an “interracial” environment, and was less open when it came to embracing Brandon. 
Q: Are there any lessons you learned through your characters?
Jade Alyse: At the time I first wrote this book, I hadn’t been in a long term relationship and had no idea what it entailed until I got into the bulk of it.  Looking back, I can honestly say that Brandon and Natalie’s story would’ve been handled a little bit differently, now that I’ve experienced it for myself. What I learned, of course, is that even with the foundation of friendship and love, there are so many other things that go into a relationship to not only make it function, but to make it last as well. 
Q: What can we expect from you next?
Jade Alyse: The sequel to When You Come to Me, entitled Skin Like Dawn, came out in August, 2013, and is available for purchase.  I’ll release the final book, The Great Trees Fall, in March, 2015.  In the meantime, my additional books and short stories are available for download on my website!