Intimate Conversation with Colette R. Harrell
Colette R. Harrell is a wife, mother, author, poet, songwriter, and playwright. She holds a master's degree in science and is in senior management at a non-profit agency. She is co-owner of COJACK Productions, a Christian entertainment company. As an active member of her church, she oversees the drama ministry, as well as being an intercessor and in women's leadership. She is a motivational speaker and has taught numerous workshops on a national level. A Detroit native, she currently resides in Ohio.
BPM: What drove you to sit down and actually start writing your book series?
Pure guts and faith, I didn’t know I had. You have this dream of living your passion. So, you take steps to make your dream a reality. I sent a short story into this or that magazine with no response back. I’ve started and stopped a million times. Then one day I sat down at a computer, prayed, and a story began to take shape. I’m a little different, and my story is different. But I wrote it anyway, because it wanted—needed—to be told, the way I was telling it.
The story of The Devil Made Me Do It resounded in my spirit because I always liked romance, science fiction, and paranormal stories. I wanted to tell a Christian tale with supernatural activity. God is ever present, but I wanted to also show demons, imps, etc., at work. The resulting story became a page turner.
BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?
Absolutely. I’m this city chick with a Southern twang from the hood of southwest Detroit. I was raised in a two-parent household with four siblings. My parents were all about reading versus television consumption. I think we were the last household in the neighborhood to purchase a color television. What we did have were books, magazines, and newspapers. At a young age, reading was my passion, and it still is.
For me, a good book is like good gossip—you just have to share it. By sharing other’s stories, I began to want to tell my own, my own way.
BPM: Do you ever let the book stew—leave it for months, and then come back to it?
Maybe not months. I can’t leave my child alone that long (that would be child abuse). But, yes, I have had to leave it. To let fresh eyes take another look at it later, and create, once again, from the heart. To pray that God gives me an understanding of where my characters are headed and how they will get there. In the meantime, I’m working on something else. Eventually, I will go back to the book and complete it; after all, you have to give the child you birthed a happy ending . . . Or maybe not.
BPM: Introduce us to your books: The Devil Made Me Do It and Tell the Truth The Devil Won't. What genre do you consider your books? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?
Yes, both of my books are definitely in Kindle and Nook digital format. The books are Christian fiction with an “edge.” I say that because, yes, my main characters are Christian, but they aren’t perfect, and they don’t part the Red Sea or walk on water (although I do believe that miracles and wonders still occur). My characters sometimes make poor choices, and they have to face the consequences of those choices. They are not plastic people, but realistic, dealing with current issues.
My main character, Esther, is a beautiful, full-figured woman who always wanted to be the princess at the ball, courted by the Prince Charming. Instead, she settled for the frog, who shared her lily pond. The handsome, charismatic Briggs Stokes appears to have it all—but at what price?
The Devil Made Me Do It takes a glimpse into the supernatural provides a twist that is “cover-your-eyes scary,” and in the next chapter, “slap the table, fun and humorous.”
Tell the Truth The Devil Won't comes out on October 27, 2015. Here's the scope:
The Love Zion members are in the middle of a spiritual tsunami. The flood has them up to their necks, deep in muck and mire, and treading water looking for a life raft.
The full-figured Esther Redding doesn't realize it, but she desperately needs a change. Her Cinderella tiara is tarnished, and her glass slippers are cracked.
Briggs Stokes has always had a soft spot for Esther. She was in his blood, and he didn't want a transfusion. When he returns to Detroit, he decides that nothing will keep him from her door. Well, nothing but once reformed bad girl Monica Stokes Custer. She's Briggs's ex, and she wants to be his "give me one more chance again" wife. The tug of war that ensues may be the catalyst that destroys the person they both love the most.
Don't blink—pray. These shenanigans are too juicy to miss.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Esther dares to believe, even from a young age, that she is a tiara-wearing, wand-carrying, princess extraordinaire. Her acting on that belief produces trauma that has a rippling effect. As she suffers a tremendous loss, she vacillates between doubt and hope. Her way of coping is to become the poster child for doing good, even though the devil is prompting her to be bad.
Briggs is a son of privilege, but it’s that same privilege that makes him come to believe that in his truest self, he is invisible. It’s not just about his inherited money, but about who he really is. He struggles with the question: How do you grow up around God’s anointed superstar and still be seen for yourself?
Identity theft was committed long before the computer age. Briggs’s and Esther’s failure to know their purpose could result in a destiny of abusing it.
BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Yes, they deal with suicide—a taboo subject in most communities. They also deal with lust and adultery. All of America is hooked on a television show built around adultery with one of the most powerful men in the country. It’s entertaining; it’s riveting . . . but is it biblical?
The characters have to come to terms with physical and verbal abuse, suicide, corporate fraud, and stalking. I also discuss how choices affect our lives. I ask and answer the question: Can one childhood incident shape the rest of your life? I learned that my best writing came when I allowed my own pain, joy, or insecurities to be transparent in my storytelling.
BPM: What would you like for readers to take away from your writing?
I want them to be entertained. I want them to have Aha! moments that set them on the road to self-discovery. I want them to draw closer to a God who loves them unconditionally.
BPM: How do you go about reaching new readers?
Three avenues: The best compliment I received was from someone stating that their friends who were not Christians would read The Devil Made Me Do It because it was so entertaining. First, tell a good story.
Second, in an excerpt reading with men (who were coerced to come by their wives), their feedback was that it wasn’t the normal chick-flick literature they thought it was going to be, and they all asked me to keep reading. Tell a good story that others can relate to.
And, third, hopefully, people who read this interview will be inspired to run out and buy The Devil Made Me Do It, and then tell others to buy it too. Tell a good story and it promotes itself! (See how I keep mentioning the name of the book? Subconsciously, you’re hearing—buy the book, buy the book . . . LOL.)
BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author?
Well, here is where I get very philosophical and state that I’m not in this for the money. NOT! This is a time-consuming, not-for-the-fainthearted venture. So, maybe not first, even though it’s listed here as first, I’d like to make a living at this. That would be one form of success.
Another would be for others to enjoy the story so much that they reread it. And that they sit in anticipation for the next book. Those both would be a form of success.
Last, but most important, I would define success as something on the inside of the reader that transcends the mundane and spiritually enhances their life. That would be the ultimate form and definition of success for me as a published author.
BPM: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Up, up, and away! I would love to do this when I am retired and old, sitting on my screened-in porch, sipping on a mango lemonade under a blue summer sky, typing away. You gotta love it!
BPM: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My goal is to continue writing beyond my Heaven over Hell trilogy. I plan to be around for a while. This is that second half in life, the career that everyone is saying is possible.
You can stay current through my blog and website: Writespirit.org, located at ColetteHarrell.com
I’ve developed a fictional character by the name of Mother Maku Sweat, and her husband is Bishop Mo Sweat. She’s a feisty evangelist, full of the wisdom of the ages. I plan to have Mother Sweat’s video advice column on my website as well. Look for Mother Sweat beginning in Fall 2015!
Twitter: @ColetteRHarrell or https://twitter.com/ColetteRHarrell
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Amazon Purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Colette-R.-Harrell/e/B00II98JUI
Tell the Truth The Devil Won't (Book 2)
by Colette R. Harrell
The Devil Made Me Do It (Book 1)
by Colette R. Harrell