Today author Mika Jolie is joining us on the blog. Mika lives in New Jersey with her Happy Chaos – her husband and their two energizer bunnies. She’s addicted to Spotify, lip balm and a cute scarf. When she does have time to breathe, and isn’t behind her computer, you can find her working on her garden, reading, hiking with her camera slung over her shoulder, or practicing her knitting skills.
Mika is running a giveaway in honour of Diverse Books Month! She’ll be giving away copies of her books to the first few people to claim one. Visit the Facebook Event (https://www.facebook.com/events/1613539978934817/1613540218934793/) and follow the instructions to claim the book.
I asked Mika a few questions:
1. What does the term “Diverse Books” mean to you?
Mika Jolie: Let’s look at the word diverse, it means a mélange, a mix bag with so many different flavors. That to me is the meaning of diverse books. As an author who writers multicultural books, I’ve written about different heritage, ethnicity. For example, in Need You Now, Lili is of Puerto Rican background. In Tattooed Hearts, Claire is African-American/Japanese and so on.
2. How do you think we should encourage more diversity in the literary world?
Mika Jolie: The first problem is that we are ‘segregated’ and labelled. I understand why it’s done. For a very long time, we didn’t have quality work that represented ‘us’. At least not a great variety, but I feel in a way being labelled has put our work in a niche and we don’t get the full exposure that we should, which is wrong.
At the same time, it’s getting readers’ attention. For example, I remember my level of frustration because I’d go to the romance department at bookstores and could never find a book that represented my relationship. I personally read all books, all flavors, as long as the story is good. But from a consumer perspective, we rely on what appeals to us visually. Typically, when someone picks up a book, they look at the cover first, then read the blurb. Especially in the romance genre, most would not automatically pick one of my books because the cover could be a black woman and a white man. It’s not something they are familiar with.
3. Are there diverse character types (ethnic, religious, disabled, etc.) that you’d like to see more of in fiction?
Mika: I’d love to see it all. The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect, so we should be able to write about all of our differences. The only thing, I’d say to that to any author, make sure to research when touching on something that is unfamiliar to you and represent the topic well.
4. What cultural influences are there on your writing?
Mika Jolie: My life. I grew up in a blended household with a French grandmother, my father was biracial. Race was never an issue at our house. Now I’m married to a Caucasian man. I didn’t fall in love with the color of his skin. Those familiar with my writing, will note that while I write about different races coming together and falling in love, I don’t focus on the color of their skin, I address the heart and all the emotions we struggle with on a daily basis.
5. Please tell us some of your favourite diverse books and/or authors.
Mika Jolie: I love The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. The book tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob. She’s a minor character in the Bible, but Ms. Diamant broadened her story.
Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera are two very good novels.
Edwidge Dandicat, Krik? Krak! A fellow Haitian novelist. Her stories are poignant and addresses many problems plagued the country. The Farming of Bones is a novel I constantly go back to. It tells the story a young Haitian woman living in the Dominican Republic. While the story takes place in 1937, it is very relevant to what is going on between Haiti and Dominican Republic today.
I enjoy Harper Miller’s short stories. S.K. Lessly and Michelle Hardin are two very good authors. I am now reading A Storm is Coming by LaShawn Vasser.
Thanks, Mika. Those were great answers!
Mika loves to hear from readers. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, or drop her an email.
For latest news on her current works-in-progress, interviews with fellow authors, or just to see what she’s up to, check out http://mikajolie.com While there, sign up for her newsletter, where you can hear her latest news and enjoy giveaways.
Books by Mika Jolie:
Martha’s Way Series
The Scale – Book One
Twenty-seven year old, African-American, Minka Greene has to endure watching her twin sister marry the man she loves. Her weight is up, and her confidence is down. Not exactly the ideal time to meet the real man of her dreams.
The Scale opens in Martha’s Vineyard with Minka attending Keely and Blake’s engagement party at Martha’s Way, the beautiful inn owned and operated by the tall, blond, tattooed man with the piercing blue eyes. It just so happens Jason Montgomery is also Blake’s childhood friend and the best man. Dealing with a whirl of emotions, Minka faints in Jason’s arms.
When she wakes up naked in Jason’s bed after a night of passion, the Vineyard confirmed bachelor struggling with his own demons and the woman filled with self-doubt and pining for another man are joined in an experience that will change their lives.
The Scale is the first book of the Martha’s Way series.
Need You Now – Book Two
Elementary school teacher Liliana Serrano has never been one to let others determine her future. Whether it’s her pack of three overly protective brothers or her Puerto-Rican, American heritage, she stands on her own. Which is exactly how she entered her arrangement with Adam Aquilani. The hot formula one driver is aloof, detached and not interested in relationship. After a cheating fiancé, no strings attached sex was just what she needed.
Except one year later, they’re still hooking up and things aren’t so clear cut anymore. Especially when a surprise pregnancy enters the picture.
Adam is determined to marry Lily and raise their child as a family. But Lily refuses to settle for anything less than love.
As the two go on a journey of discovering, secrets are revealed, testing the strength of their connection.
Can they learn not to give the past the power to define their future?
Need You Now is book two of the Martha’s Way Series.
Tattooed Hearts – Book Three
Being someone’s first love is unforgettable. Being their last is immeasurable.
Claire Peters should be on top of the world. She owns the radio waves and has a budding movie career. But her heart longs to be rooted. Ten years ago, she fled Martha’s Vineyard to pursue her dream and to make something of herself. But there’s still a void. After a decade of running, she returns to the island hoping to find her happiness with the man she’s loved all her life.
When a tragic event shatters Dr. Forrest Desvareaux’ well-balanced world, the Vineyard’s hometown good guy discovers everything in his life is based on lies. Angry and betrayed, he turns to Claire – the one woman who has indelibly marked him.
Is it possible to run back to the person who broke you? Forever linked, Forrest and Claire are an unending continuum. But she’s a wildflower and Forrest’s roots run deep on the Vineyard. Can they accept home is not a place but a feeling?