"Weepin Willa" by Nariscia Lott
Nariscia Lott was born on December 23, 1973, in Chicago, Illinois; but she was raised in Indianola, Mississippi, in a small house with her two sisters, mother and grandfather. Born with a severe case of idiopathic scoliosis, she attributes her creativity and story writing talent to stubbornness and a vivid imagination. "Weepin' Willa: A Collection of Short Stories" is Lott's first self-published book.
Hello! Thanks for having me!
Tell us a little bit about yourself Ms. Lott?
Well, I’m “that lil Lott girl”, Jessie Mae’s daughter. I’m 36 years old (but if anybody asks, tell ‘em I’ll be 24 on my next birthday), single (never married…even though I’ve selected my groom), no children, no pets. I have two sisters—one older, one younger. I work as an Administrative Assistant during the day in the Atlanta area, where I’ve lived for the past 11 years. I grew up in a town called Indianola, Mississippi…graduated in the top 10 of the Gentry High School Class of 1992. I could go on and on (even though, admittedly, I hate talking about myself). What else would you like to know? J I’m new at this.
Please tell our readers what was the catalyst to writing your novel?
For the longest time, I’ve had 3 books in my head. I’d rather try and fail than to wonder “what would’ve happened if...” I finally summoned up the courage to share this part of myself—my true self, my passion.
Is this your first major literary work?
Yes. I guess you could say this is “major”. I’ve done some stuff here and there in the past; but this is my first book.
Who were some other authors that inspired you to write?
I think Alice Walker absolutely changed my life when I read “Possessing the Secret of Joy”! But I’d have to say that I had been bitten by the bug long before I even heard of her.
I’ve always had a vivid imagination; but it wasn’t until I discovered (and I use the term loosely…because I was snooping through her things at the time) my older sister’s notebook that I knew I wanted to write what I dreamed about…what I saw, felt, and heard in my head…so that other people could experience it, too. She had written some stories—one story, in particular—that turned on a light inside me. I felt like I was there. I could hear the rain. I could feel the character’s pain. I didn’t feel like I was reading a story…I was gaining life experience! And I wanted to replicate that feeling in other people. Maybe then, I wouldn’t feel like I was the only one in the world who sees things the way that I see them. You know?
There were so many things that I liked about your book! Where did your decision come from to base your chapter off of dates in time and to not use chronological order?
THANK YOU! I’m so glad you liked it! That means a lot to me!
Weepin’ Willa is a series of books that I hope to write and publish over the course of the next year or two. I call them “factions”—a mix of fiction with a whole lotta fact! Since the first book is to be my introduction to the world, I wanted to write it based on pure instinct. I just went with my gut. That’s how I write…how I live my life. Take me as I am or leave me where I stand. I, literally, spent years going back and forth on the topic of how to organize the chapters. I tried putting them in chronological order and didn’t like it. It wasn’t me. I wanted the reader to feel as though we were sitting on the couch, shoes off, talking like old friends. “You want some more coffee?” In conversations, things aren’t always discussed in perfect order. That just doesn’t seem natural to me…not for this book. I guess it’s because there were several stories—not just ONE main story—throughout the book.
In your book you expose your heart to everyone and it’s a brilliant portrayal of where your mindset was at each of these moments in time. Was it difficult sharing so much with the world?
Yes and no. I’m a very honest person. Some might say “cut ‘n dry”. *giggles* I’m not always comfortable with sharing so much of myself…verbally. There’s a lot of editing that goes on in my head before I actually SAY anything…which is why I have a tendency to listen more than I speak.
But when I write, there are no boundaries. Whatever comes up comes out. And my mind is always going, going, going! I have to type as fast as I can to get it all out. Every little insignificant detail…I write it down. Thoughts within my thoughts…write ‘em down. And hopefully, people will get something from reading my work.
The book starts off with the death of your mother, proceeds to costly fires, near death episodes, early life scoliosis, miscarriages, shootings, and false loves. What is it that you want the reader to take away, after reading this book?
The death of my mother left a huge hole in me…that has yet to heal. I had to start there. But you know what? Shit happens. Life must go on. Giving up is not an option.
Would you describe your book as an accurate portrayal of your life in a collection of stories, an autobiography or memoirs?
There’s a lot of truth in this book. I’m most comfortable with describing it as a collection of stories inspired by true events.
Who designed your book cover for you?
Me. You likey? *giggles* I knew exactly how I wanted the cover to look. I did it myself. I love my eyes. I wanted them on the cover. Just the eyes with nothing else to distract you from looking into them. A bold, instant connection. I hope so, anyway.
What made you choose self-publishing vs publishing houses? What advice can you give those (would be authors) out there who want to write a book and are looking at self-publishing as an option?
I chose to self-publish because I wanted to maintain creative control. Life forced me to come up with alternative ways to accomplish even the simplest of tasks (because of my physical limitations). I never even considered taking the traditional route. But I must say that self-publishing is a tough row to hoe. Everything comes out of my pocket (and my pockets don’t exactly run deep!); it can be frustrating, at times, because I can’t do everything that I’d like to do (marketing, PR, etc.). I always dreamed that I’d publish my first book, Oprah would read it and invite me to be on her show, and then, she’d want to turn it into a movie. But once I started the process of contacting printers (and Oprah announced that she was retiring *rolling my eyes*), I quickly discovered that writing the book was the easy part.
To those who want to self-publish, I say… be patient and financially prepared. Do the research. Have a plan—including marketing—in place BEFORE you print that first copy.
Please tell all of the readers where they can purchase your book and find more information about you?
“Weepin’ Willa: A Collection of Short Stories” can be purchased on www.amazon.com. I am also hustlin’ books out of the trunk of my car. You can find more information and contact me through my website (www.nariscialott.com ), by email (email@example.com), or on Facebook (@ Weepin’ Willa).
Do you have plans to tour around the states to share your wonderful story?
*giggles* Um, that’s not in the budget right now. But who knows what tomorrow brings? I hope to have a reason to tour the states. I hope to generate a demand for my work. So, we’ll see…
What’s next for Nariscia Lott?
Well, I’m working on book #2. I hope to have it finished by the end of the year.
But first, I’m launching a literary magazine, DreamSpeak Literary Magazine (www.dreamspeaklitmag.com). If all goes well, the online monthly magazine will launch around July 1st…and I want to do a quarterly print issue (beginning with the first one in September). The purpose of creating this magazine is to provide a platform for teens to express themselves creatively. I’m currently accepting submissions; the guidelines are posted on the DreamSpeak Facebook fan page.
Oh, and I’ll be attending the Atlanta Black Book Expo in Atlanta in August of this year. I’m really looking forward to that.
There are a few other things that I’m dabbling in and I have lots of ideas in my head; but those are the major blips on my radar right now.
There you have it folks! I do hope you've enjoyed our little chat! Let me just say, you really need to get this book. It has been a long time since I've read a book that keeps me drawn in and feels so heart felt. While reading the book, I always felt like i was there as a bystander watching every moment go by. I promise, you'll not be disappointed! Ms. Lott's way with words and descriptions are uncanny!!! See you all next time :-)