by Amber Wright with Ahyiana Angel
Ahyiana Angel is an up-and-coming author, gearing up for the release of her debut novel, “Preseason Love.” A former publicist for the NBA, Ahyiana decided to chart a new course for herself by pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. Not only did the achieve that dream, but she did it with no prior publishing experience. She was able to have best-selling author Zane’s publishing imprint, Strebor Books, back the novel. For Harriet writer Amber Wright caught up with Ahyiana to hear more about her inspiring story and get the scoop on her salacious new novel.
FH: You have led an exciting career that has ranged from fashion, to PR, and now writing. What would you define as your greatest achievement thus far and why?
AA: My greatest achievement thus far would be completing my first novel and having it published by New York Times best-selling author Zane. Although I have experienced some fantastic international traveling, worked at extraordinary companies, had jewelry that I made worn by Beyoncé, and other opportunities that I was blessed to have—I feel like I am only now coming into my passion. I’m realizing what truly makes me feel happy and accomplished. Overall, I am a creative person and I think everything I’ve worked on and experienced up to this point has touched my creative side in some way. As a result, all of these opportunities guided my career to where it is now.
FH: When did you realize that becoming an author was something you wanted to do?
AA: I was feeling a bit unfulfilled in my PR career, so I felt the need to mix things up and try something new. After months of contemplation I was drawn back to creative writing. It was something that I had always loved. I enjoy chatting and telling stories. Plus, people tend to come to me with their problems and situations. That sort of sparked the idea, and the fact that I enjoy writing essentially sealed the deal.
FH: Tell us about your debut novel, “Preseason Love,” and how you were able to gain the attention of Zane’s Strebor Books without any previous experience in publishing.
AA: “Preseason Love” is the story of Scottie Malveaux, a sassy young woman navigating her way through her career and love life in New York City. She is a woman similar to someone that we all know. Through an assortment of tumultuous and scandalous moments, we see her faced with choices and decisions that impact her life in ways she may regret.
Being clear about my dreams and goals led me to attend Zane’s book publishing bootcamp, which I then used to network and gain the attention of her Publishing Director. Once the connection was established I did my research and made sure that I was prepared when my opportunity knocked.
FH: As a blogger, you describe your writing as being “like reality TV, fictionalized for fun and sensationalized for your entertainment.” Is this the same approach you take to writing novels?
Yes, I like to keep things juicy. Most fiction draws inspiration from some part of reality, so when I write I may glean from personal experiences, but I will throw in twists and turns to kick it up a notch. I love a good drama, so I enjoy bringing some of the real life drama to my writing.
I want people to consume the content and either relate to it or learn from it, whether it be via my novels or my blog. With my blog, Life According To Her, my vision was for it to play out like an ongoing conversation between friends. Sometimes it feels good to read about someone else and feel like, ‘I’m not the only one who dealt with a lame guy or felt lost in my career.’ When I post the topics that I’ve written about on my Instagram, people tend to chime in and they sometimes have differing viewpoints, but that’s great. It creates room for healthy conversation and debate. For example, a conversation about interracial dating took the comments a level deeper and, as a result, they began discussing the family structure within the African-American community. I was so pleased to see that transition.
FH: What inspires your work ethic?
AA: My parents and grandparents set a great example for me in regard to their exceptional work ethic. That foundation, and my desire to make my family proud, inspires my own work ethic. I want to show my younger siblings and cousins that they can and should dream big. If you work hard and work smart then you can achieve what you conceive. I want my success to be that proof.
FH: What advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about pursuing their dreams?
AA: Identify what you want to do and test it out—like pursuing an internship, or another opportunity. Before you make any drastic career changes that may negatively impact your life, you should be confident that your passion is real. If it is fashion designing, start working on launching your line before you quit your day job that pays the bills. Begin to establish your presence in the new industry, and your natural instincts will kick in and let you know when it is time to make a full transition. When you want to get started in a new career, you have to plan, but you also need to do the work and start somewhere. If you never test out your skills, then you will not know what you are capable of achieving.
FH: Contemporary Black women, like Michelle Obama or Shonda Rhimes, continue to raise the bar of excellence. Are there any particular women that have inspired you?
AA: I’m constantly motivated and inspired by the progress that I see from those around me. It ranges from everyday women in my social media timeline, to more notable examples of excellence. you can benefit when you pay attention to successful people and observe how they execute even the smallest thing. I look at people like Queen Latifah, Beyoncé, and Oprah to watch how they work. They all came from humble beginnings and developed extraordinary careers through an immense amount of hard work, dedication, and a sense of purpose. Their fearless approach to making their mark in this world is something that I aim to emulate.
FH: Here on ForHarriet.com, we are all about documenting the fullness of Black womanhood. How do you celebrate and bring forth the essence and beauty of being a Black woman?
AA: I love to give back in the form of mentoring and working with the youth in my community. I really enjoy connecting with them, and breaking down any hesitation they may have about excelling in the future or pursuing an education while still remaining true to yourself and your roots. It’s important to me that I show them an example of a Black woman who takes pride in her appearance, as well as her strength, versatility, and education.
“Preseason Love” will be released on October 21, 2014. You can pre-order and purchase the book on Amazon. For more information on Ahyiana Angel, visit her blog, LifeAccordingToHer.com.
Photo provided by: Ahyiana Angel
Amber L. Wright, M.A. is an adjunct professor, writer, communication coach and creator of TalktoAmber.com. Her personal mission is to teach you how to hear and be heard in every area of your life - from the boardroom to the bedroom. Wright’s areas of interest and expertise are in communication, relationships, marriage and popular culture.
Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor of For Harriet. Email or Follow @KimberlyNFoster