Author Interview: Rhana Gittens
The wonderful thing about books is that you can read a person's work and connect with the work, and consequently it's author, without ever meeting, or knowing, him or her. Still, I believe that learning more about an author can give further insight into their work.
Rhana Gittens is the author of Perfectly Loved (Read Cara's review of the book here).
A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to talk with author Rhana Gittens over the phone and speak with her about her debut book.
To give just a little background, I first met Rhana at church about three years ago. We served alongside each other as part of the elementary school ministry. She's a gem. From my experience (inside and outside of church), Rhana is a fun-loving, laid-back person who has a heart for people.
It's my sincere honor to help facilitate a further connection between you and Rhana's work by sharing this author interview with you.
If you want to find more of Rhana Gittens on the web simply click the links I've include below.
Author Interview: Rhana Gittens
Where are you from?
I was born in Queens, New York but I don't claim New York. I'm from Fort Lauderdale, that's where I was raised.
When and why did you begin writing?
Well, I kept a journal, a diary throughout my childhood and adolescence. Writing was a way for me to express what I was feeling.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I did not go to college for journalism at first. Originally, I wanted to go into Sports Medicine. But when I started college I became extremely conscious of the things happening in the world around me within the first 6 months. I felt the media was powerful. The media drives change. After that realization I changed my major to Journalism because I wanted to be a part of driving change. I’m a journalist that makes me a writer.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I was going through a difficult time in life, growing up and transitioning into adulthood. Writing has always been therapeutic for me. During this time I was getting revelations from God about people, relationships, and His love for me. I realized that other people are just like me, and like me, they don't know what love is until God reveals it to them. He revealed it to me and I shared it with other people.
How did you come up with the title?
I went through a lot of different titles...then one day I saw the words "perfectly loved" somewhere. I honestly can't remember all the specifics. But I thought, "Oh my gosh, that’s it!" It's simple, yet it explains everything completely. I also wanted a title that wasn’t super feminine so that men wouldn’t feel awkward saying that they were reading the book. I wanted men and women to be able to be comfortable reading it.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Dare I say the Bible, that’s a little cliché (laughs). The Corner, by David Simon and Edward Burns. The book is about Baltimore drug dealers...black guys growing up. The television series The Wire was based off the book and there was also a mini series called The Corner. Anyway, before the show or miniseries, I read the book and it stirred me up. I needed, or wanted, to change things in people’s lives, and hear other people’s stories. I like hearing other people’s stories because it makes me intrigued about how I, or we as a community, can make things better by just sharing our lives.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I wouldn’t change anything in the book. I think it’s perfect. Not because I wrote it perfectly but because God set it all up perfectly. I wouldn’t change anything about the process of writing or the business process. Sometimes I think I should have sought more outside guidance and advice...but then I think maybe not. I did not ask a bunch of experts or other people with experience for advice. I didn't even really consult my friends and family very much. It was just me and God. Now, I realize why that had to happen. Guidance might have led the book in a different direction from where God wanted it to go. The book wassheltered it from external influence because I was sheltered from external influence. I’m happy that it was sheltered because God got a chance to take full control.
Why did you chose that cover?
The analogy of fireflies [included in the book]. I researched fireflies and the description of fireflies. I thought of other covers before, and after, but the analogy is perfect. You have to read pretty far into the book to figure it out, but the firefly is pretty important to the whole message. The picture is wonderful and happened by chance. A friend of mine referred me to someone who photographs fireflies. My friend picked the photo and I bought it. The cover was designed around it.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting over myself. I stopped a lot in between [writing] for a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason was not feeling qualified. But then I told myself "Just write. Who cares if you are qualified or not." I was nervous about not being sure how people would receive the book. Now that I'm on the other side, I'm relieved that God didn't let me stop.
What's your message to your readers and people in general?
Somewhere, deep down inside, every person has good in them. It just takes another person to help bring that goodness out of others. Don’t be so judgmental or hard on people. We’re just ordinary humans trying to figure stuff out.
You can read Rhana's blog here.
Connect with Rhana on Social Media -
Facebook: Perfectly Loved Fan Page
Get A Copy of Perfectly Loved