Here’s the deal. I get emails requesting to be on the show, and I’m always eager to make it happen if I can. So when I got the opportunity to have Joiya Morrison Efemini on the podcast, I jumped at it.
Did I know anything about her? Nope. Had I ever read anything by her? Nuh-uh. Did I panic when I read about her unique writing style?
Still, I plunged into reading her book and “hoped for the best.” What I found was something surprisingly poignant and powerful.
What’s Better Than a Great Novel? How about THIS?
A novel written in verse. Yeah, I dreaded it. What if I didn’t like it? What if it was—oh, Lord, please no—in free verse. What if it wasn’t and it read like a children’s rhyming book until I wanted to tear out my hair? What if…
The world is full of what-ifs, but one I didn’t have to worry about was “what if I don’t like Joiya Morrison-Efemini’s book, Petrified Flowers. After a couple of swipes of the Kindle page, I was hooked. On the line. Sunk into the depths of a story so rich it wouldn’t let me go.
And here’s where I confess even more.
Yes, the book is written in a hybrid of rhyming and free verse. Yes, I fully expected not to like it. And of course, I was absolutely wrong.
Joiya and I talk about her journey from lawyer to stay-at-home-mom and author, how she got started writing novels in verse, and about her new work-in-progress that isn’t in verse. We get the story behind her three books:
- The Notes They Played
- The Impossible (you want this NOW. And I haven’t even read it yet)
- Petrified Flowers
Petrified Flowers is her most recent release, and Joiya talks about how an HBO documentary, Class Divide, that discusses an elite private school in NYC situated directly opposite a housing project. That story stayed with her until she just had to write the story that kept me ignoring my own work. Thanks a lot, Joiya. No, really. I needed a break. Now I’m using the second half as my reward when I finish this book!
I was fascinated to discover that our writing processes look quite similar (and completely opposite).
While she dons running shoes to do her brainstorming, I jump behind the wheel of our car and toodle on down the road. Still, she’s probably much healthier than I am, but I think I’m okay with that.
Seriously, though, we had a great time, laughing and joking. I get this gal—just the kind of person you hope to have as your neighbor. As we talked about her favorite books as well as the racial issues in her books, she shared several books she thought would be beneficial to people hoping to understand the turmoil in our world today.
They’re top of my non-work TBR pile now. Because after talking with Joiya, I’m ready to listen much more than I ever have been before. It’s not that I’ve never cared about racial inequality and ugliness. I hate it. However, sometimes it comes at you in the form of an attack that puts you naturally on the defensive. Joiya came at it from a different angle that drew me into a conversation and made me eager to listen, to understand.
Out of Dust by Karen Hesse (a beautiful example of novels in verse)
Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Uluo
To learn more about Joiya, visit her at her WEBSITE.
And seriously, pray for her physician husband and Joiya’s family. Being on Covid frontlines can’t be easy for any of them.
*** Congrats to Faith for winning the book!**