As many of you know, I requested my rights of Sunday’s Child be returned to me, because I wasn’t happy with the way the publishers handled the book. I was also unsatisfied with that they did (didn’t do) on my behalf while holding the rights to what is essentially MY life. The questions below were asked by readers associated with those publishers. You can see how I answered them below.
1) How old were you when the thought of becoming an author first came to mind? — Marshall K., New York
I’ve always been interested in writing. One of my first poems won a prize at my primary school, but it’s long gone so I can’t remember exactly what it was about. I had to do some journalism as part of my training to become a radio broadcaster. I got a real knack for writing up news bulletins and even did some jingles. It was then I fully understood what an impact I could make with my words. My supervisor felt I had a natural talent for expression, one they could never teach me or anyone else.
However, I didn’t think I’d be an author until I started writing Sunday’s Child in 2005. I used to tell my husband bits and pieces about my childhood and once when we were away for a weekend, he suggested I write a book. When we came back home I started writing Sunday’s Child and just progressed to several other non-fiction (self-help) books since then.
2) How many hours a day do you write? — Kelly P., Raleigh
I try to write for at least 3 hours each day. I wish I didn’t have to network because it takes away so much of my writing time (am I being too honest?). However, I understand that networking is a very important aspect of the writer’s platform-building strategy and promotional obligations. Sometimes I do less or more. I also work as a freelance writer (doing ghost articles) and an editor. In addition, I run 4+ blogs, so I have to write daily in order to publish constant materials on my sites. I work in TV part-time, so when I’m away filming I can’t really write.
When I have deadlines I write for longer. Sometimes I have to tear myself away from the computer. It’s a definite temptation to work way into the night. That wouldn’t be right though, considering I have a family and a dusty (ish) home to sort out.
3) How is the literary scene in the UK? — Crystal A., Phoenix
I think it’s more or less the same as it is in America. Writers are struggling, and most of our work ends up in the slush pile. However, it’s a wonderful feeling when you finally find a publisher you know will treat your work in the way you intended.
I think many great authors in the UK are finding it difficult to get their work to potential readers. The problem nowadays is not getting published anymore (as self-publishing is not viewed as taboo in the same way it used to be). I think the real problem is marketing. Marketing is a separate job in itself. People study, train and qualify in order to do it. So when writers (whose talents lie in the creative realm) attempt to market their own work while writing, editing, promoting, networking, typesetting, and publishing their own work, it can get extremely overwhelming. Marketing is my greatest downfall and weakness, I think. I feel the support (with marketing and promotion) is more forthcoming in the U.S. However, I can’t definitively say this is so without having lived in the U.S. for any significant length of time.
4) It almost seems impossible for anyone to have survived the kind of abuse you went through. How did you do it? — Bryan T., Detroit
I became a born-again Christian when I was 22. I think this, more than anything else, has helped me deal with my past. I also think that my aunt Theresa, who’s the main ‘character’ (if you can call a real person a character) in Sunday’s Child, showed me in her own way how things can be different. Thank God, as I grew, I came to realise that life can be different – that our life wasn’t ‘normal’, that I didn’t have to follow that path. I used to look up into the sky and imagine that the stars were winking at me. I used to make up stories about them (the stars) being sparkly lights through which I could enter a different world. I knew there was another world somewhere out there and now, thank God, I’ve found it. Sunday’s Child shows how your past doesn’t have to dictate your future.
5) Did your abusive upbringing leave you with any scars that have yet to heal, emotional or otherwise? — Vicki G., Sacramento
I have chronic pain. While I have a happy life, I’m limited to physical things I can do. I believe that (at least part of) this pain comes from left overs of beatings my body went through. After all, as question number 4 says, it almost seems impossible for anyone to have survived the kind of abuse I went through. I suppose I can’t really expect to have gotten away scot free. I’m thankful that my mind wasn’t tainted and that I didn’t perpetuate the abuse. The way I see it, my physical pain is my own. No one else has to suffer because of it. If I was affected mentally all the people who love me in my life would’ve been negatively affected by it. Life is worth nothing if you hurt the people who love you. Physical pain doesn’t stop me from being able to love, show love, be compassionate and strive to leave a positive impact wherever and whomever I touch.
6) Your life seems like such an inspirational message of hope and perseverance. Do you do any motivational speaking? — Malcolm B., Orlando
Not at the moment. However, I do run a ‘How To Build Confidence’ blog here: http://getconfidence.net. I think it does the same thing. It’s free, people can read it whenever they want, and the entire world can easily access it. My hope for it is that it grows from strength to strength, and that it continues to offer real support and healing for people like me.
7) If Sunday’s Child is ever turned into a movie, which actress would you want to play you? — Nanette C., Philadelphia
I’ve thought about this, but I can’t think of any ‘known’ actress who looks like me. Willow Smith seems close enough (in appearance) to the way I looked as a child. She’s a very assured and confident girl, so she’ll have to act the total opposite to get anywhere near where I used to be around that age.
I’ve doubled for the English, mixed-race actress Sophie Okenado in Dr. Who before, so I know we have the same general look and height. I remember when I showed up as her double the director remarked, ‘Gosh, Look at you!’ He was pleasantly surprised to see how like her I was when I wore her costume and wig. I saw her in Rwanda and know that she can play me in Sunday’s Child. However, she’ll have to play me in the sequel because I wasn’t fully grown in the first part of Sunday’s Child.
8) If you were stuck alone on an island and could only have one book with you, what would it be? — Leona D., Boston
Easy. The Bible. At last, there’ll be time enough to study it again. I’ve been lacking in my studies recently. 🙂
9) Aside from your literary success, what has been your single greatest accomplishment thus far? — Charlene C., Atlanta
I played at the National Cultural Centre. This is THE theatre every serious, professional stage actress strives for in Guyana. In my stage acting days, I had the main part there. It was a dream come true. As a frightened little girl with no way of getting anywhere important, I used to listen to the radio and hear actress after actress appear in plays at the NCC. All of a sudden, life had brought me to a point where I was on radio and announcing my own name for shows there! It was divine.
10) What does Anne Lyken-Garner do for an encore? — Darrin W., Birmingham
Finish Fair of Face, the continuation of Sunday’s Child. I’ve also just signed a contract with a health publisher to bring out my healthy eating programme I’ve written from scratch. I’ve developed a programme to help people lose weight without going on diets. It shows them how to start, develop and maintain a healthy, diet-less lifestyle. It’s really ground-breaking, so look out for it.