Intimate Conversation with Briana Cole
Briana Cole is an Atlanta native and proud mother of two. Having graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2009, she immediately began working for the federal government. Briana enjoys acting and public speaking but writing is her first passion. She has coined the term 'spiceual' to describe her style of writing; a mix of spicy and sensual romance that stimulates the reader mentally, physically, and emotionally. Tired of reading the same type of books in the urban industry, Briana prides herself on bringing unique plots and a distinct voice to the bookshelves. Her debut novel, Heart Breaker, is only the beginning in, what Briana considers, ‘a new experience’ in African-American literature. Her motto and ultimate drive towards success is a famous quote from Mae West: "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."
BPM: How did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you?
I got to where I am today because I am a very determined person. I’ve always wanted to succeed and I am the epitome of a ‘go-getter’ and doing things that, to others, seem overreaching. I am motivated because of my positive attitude, my family, and most importantly, my kids. I want to lead them by example, showing them that they can achieve their goals. I stand by that Mae West quote in my biography. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” That pushes me to continue setting new goals and striving to reach them because that is the only way to succeed.
BPM: Could you tell us something about your work? What genre is it? Is it in ebook format too?
Absolutely! My book is titled Heart Breaker and it is an urban erotic fiction novel that centers on a woman with a very… unique business. She is paid to “bait” men to test their loyalty. The plot is very different and very scandalous with lots of suspense, secrets, and drama. It is due for release May 25th and yes, it will be available in both paperback and Kindle version.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special?
My main character is Jayla Morgan. Jayla is completely raw and for the most part, a self-centered, arrogant chick and master manipulator. She is used to getting her way, even if that means hurting those she loves. But as the story progresses and Jayla is wrapped up in all the mess she has created, you’ll find out she has put up this hard exterior to mask her feelings. She doesn’t like to be hurt or vulnerable, and her weakness is this subconscious desire for happiness. She is special because some of the things she says and does are quite memorable. Plus, like most readers, Jayla is constantly dealing with inner demons and struggling to bury past mistakes while opening up to love. Readers will recognize that conflict and they will definitely relate.
Readers will fall in love with Jayla’s love interest, Derrick. He has his flaws like anyone, but he is a genuine sweetheart. I wanted Derrick to be that guy every woman wanted for themselves and thus, would grow more resentful towards Jayla for getting him tangled in her deception.
Jasmine is Jayla’s niece who falls in line to be the next Heart Breaker. As the author, even I underestimated Jasmine. She is the one you always want on your team because when she’s against you, it’s ugly.
Tara is Jayla’s best friend and Patricia is Jayla’s mentor. Both women have dominating personalities and you’ll see how Jayla is able to mix so well with them.
My characters are very real because I based on people I’ve known. I wanted readers to hear and see them so clearly, it is as if they are watching a movie. I got so close to these characters, they became like family (A very dysfunctional family). I want readers to feel the same way.
BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?
I had been toying with the idea for a while. But between being a single mother and having a full-time job, I just couldn’t seem to find the time to write it. I would do a little bit here, a little bit there but I was not in the routine of writing everyday so months would go by without me touching the story. One day, a coworker of mine mentioned she had published her children’s book and invited me to her book signing. I’m not sure she realizes how that moment was an epiphany for me. She was pursuing her dreams. That is what I needed to do. I had been talking about publishing a book since I could hold a pen and I didn’t want to look up in another 20 or 30 years still saying, “Someday, someday…” If not now, then when?
BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book, Heart Breaker?
I thoroughly enjoyed exercising my creativity. I feel I was challenged to think outside of the box since this is my first book. It was fun when my characters came to life and started to jump off the page because the story began developing on its own, despite what I, as the author, wanted to happen. I hated and loved my characters for putting me in that position.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? Why?
Because my stories are so wild, I get that question A LOT. My stories are a combination of my fantasies, a little bit of personal experiences, and some crazy ‘what-if’ scenarios I have managed to weave from something I’ve seen or heard. There is nothing off-limits when it comes to my writing. I tend to think, “Even if I wouldn’t do that, I can surely write about someone who will.” Also, I’m into theater and roleplaying so that is another factor.
My books are a refreshing mix of both plot and character-driven narrative. I say that because my characters are often times battling some internal struggles, but there are quite a few external conflicts getting in the way. These external conflicts tend to lead to the character wanting to change and better themselves, but I’m not about to make that easy for them.
BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book? If so, discuss them.
My book puts a new spin on infidelity, trust, communication, and the lengths people go through to feel secure in a relationship. All are popular themes and very relatable to the average reader, but I am excited to bring a new take on these ideas. I even touch on sensitive and complex issues such as abortion and same-sex relationships. Not to say that these topics are under-represented, but I do feel there are many authors that present them in the same fashion. That is what I did not want to do.
BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation or journey?
I feel my book somewhat mirrors my present journey because I, too, am struggling to rectify some past mistakes. Nothing as serious as my characters but we know hindsight is 20/20 and we have all made decisions we wish we could un-do. Also like Jayla, I am constantly juggling priorities, all while trying to make time to nurture my relationships.
BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to?
It speaks mainly to women. Even though the story is classified as ‘urban’ because of the predominantly African-American characters, women of all races can relate and appreciate my stories. That’s not to say men won’t find value in my books, as well, because I am digging into the female psyche. My work is definitely for mature audiences.
BPM: Do you consider authors as role models?
Of course! A role model is defined as someone whose success can be emulated. I believe authors are striving to set positive examples. The money and notoriety are a bonus. When a younger generation can look up to you for that motivation and inspiration, that is priceless.
BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book, Heart Breaker?
I sure did. One of my children’s favorite movies is Finding Nemo and there is a somewhat wise character named Dory in the movie. Dory’s famous line is, “Just keep swimming.” I liken that to myself while writing this book and I feel it is very applicable. “Just keep pushing.” Many people may not realize how demanding the writing lifestyle is. You are constantly balancing writing, marketing, and even working on multiple projects at once. There were nights I had to sacrifice sleep to meet a deadline or I did not ‘feel’ like writing at all. However, I kept pushing through it. Now that I have almost crossed the finish line for this first leg of my writing career, I feel that much more accomplished because I know how hard it was.
BPM: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
Thankfully, my book did not require too much research but I did meet some phenomenal people during the writing and publishing process. For starters, the staff and other authors at Life Changing Books were instrumental in guiding me. This entire process is brand-new so I can definitely appreciate everyone’s advice. I am also very grateful for the constructive criticism from my test readers because they challenged me. Without their feedback, my book would not be as strong as it is now.
BPM: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
With my first novel, I wanted to break into the industry with a bang. I wanted my novel to be a packed, page-turning explosion of quality writing, unique plots, and a fresh voice. I want to entertain as well as educate and leave my readers mind-blown and thirsting for more. My story went through many revisions to get it to this point but I feel I achieved just that with Heart Breaker.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I have already written an eshort story that I’m giving away to my mailing list subscribers and I’m currently working on another. I’m also working on the second part to Heart Breaker, and of course, all the associated marketing events for my debut novel. I have a book release party planned for Saturday June 13 in College Park, GA and I’m organizing my book signings and events for the summer. I’m especially excited about the events because I plan to travel. Keep an eye out because I may head your way!
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Thank you so much for having me. I’m very active on social media so follow me, I'd love hearing from you!
Amazon page: www.amazon.com/author/brianacole