It's been two years since Darker Sister has been published and I wanted to see what Joiya has been up to! Darker Sister has a way of tugging at your soul and hitting on every single human emotion in such raw way. There is no denying that Joiya is a talented writer, having had several other works published previously which piqued my curiosity if the world was going to see more from her. Let's see what she had to say.
Abbi: First off, I want to say happy two-year anniversary to you and your book!
Joiya: Thank you for your congratulations. I cannot believe DS is this old! But, also, I cannot believe it’s been such a short amount of time since I published. Does that make any sense?
Abbi: That makes total sense! What have you been up to since the release of Darker Sister?
Joiya: Oh my gosh! My career has been such a whirlwind since the release of DS! I applied for and got into the highly coveted Writers House Internship Program, where I was fully submerged in all things publishing. It was, truly, a dream come true for someone like me who was switching career gears.
Right out of that internship I landed an Assistant Editor position with Good Story Company, helping writers realize their publication dreams by offering editorial feedback. A few weeks later, I was offered a job as an Assistant to a Senior Book Scout. Both jobs were part-time, so I got to wear two publishing hats (three if you count my own writing). It was like winning the job lottery!
But I quickly realized I wanted to know more about craft and have the credentials to run my own business teaching writers. I applied to Drexel’s Creative Writing MFA program. I got in! So, I will be starting that in September. I stepped down from my editorial position with GSC but am still book scouting and loving the insight I get into what’s HOT right now (and what’s not). I’m also getting a bird’s- eye view into do’s and don’t do’s, as far as craft goes.
Abbi: That is so incredible to hear! One great accomplishment after another, you are on fire! I know you’ve written novels and short stories in the past, what inspired you to write poetry?
Joiya: I have always written poetry. My first three published works are in verse. The reason writing in verse appeals to me so much is that it really is the perfect marriage of prose and poetry. I have never read a book in verse I didn’t love, for that reason. And, when you look at other authors who have gone from poetry to writing in prose (I’m thinking of Jason Mott, for example), you see that having a firm foundation in poetic language adds another dimension to the writing. It makes every single sentence lyrical in a way that sometimes brings tears to your eyes.
But, you know, I started DS during the pandemic. My kids were at home. George Floyd had just been murdered. Everyone was protesting. Everyone was isolating. It was a very lonely, dark, and frightening time for a lot of people. I watched the video of George Floyd’s murder and heard him call out to his mom. I looked at my kids, who were now with me 24/7, and I just could not imagine ever sending them out into the world again. DS was my own personal journal. It was me pouring out years of family experiences. Most of it could only be expressed through poetry. And then I felt it needed to be shared with the world, or whoever would have it.
Abbi: I am truly thankful that you decided to share your experiences with the world and letting Nymeria be part of it. Do you prefer writing novels, short stories, or poetry more, and why?
Joiya: Right now, I am working on a few projects, and believe it or not, they are all prose works. I read very widely – poetry, thrillers, romance, YA, Middle Grade, horror, short stories, fantasy, historial – basically, everything. Asking me my favorite genre is akin to asking which of my children is my favorite. I love them all equally.
Abbi: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to publish their first book?
Joiya: The best advice for anyone who wants to write is to read. Read in every genre. Read books you don’t think you are going to like. Read fiction and nonfiction. Start with bestsellers and award winners and really dissect the craft. We learn to be great by watching the greats do their thing. And then, I would say, sit down and do it. Write every single day, even if it’s just a sentence. Sentences become paragraphs. Paragraphs become pages. Pages turn into stories. Oh, and don’t expect greatness at first. Writing is 90% editing.
Abbi: That's fantastic advice, thanks! For those who haven’t yet read your book, what do you want them to take away from it?
Joiya: I know from listening to readers and review (good and bad), that everyone gets a little something different from DS. What I hope people get from it (and from everything I write) is just a little window into a thought or idea you never had before. I think that might be the beginning of empathy.
Abbi: Can we anticipate more books from you in the future?
Joiya: As I said, I am working on several projects. I have a middle grade novel, an adult thriller, and a YA fantasy. I am looking forward to using what I learn in my MFA program to really take them up a notch and get them on shelves!
I am so happy that I got to pick Joiya's brain and I am incredibly excited to see what else she does in the future. You can feel the love and passion she has for what she does, and it translates so effortlessly into her writing. Take a couple seconds to congratulate Joiya Morrison-Efemini on her two-year anniversary release of Darker Sister!