I had the pleasure of meeting Nikesha Elise Williams on the set of her debut play, “Lessons We Were Never Taught.” It was a one woman play that was done exceptionally well. In fact, the stories told during the performance, continue to stay with me as time goes on. I was thrilled when Nikesha agreed to do an author spotlight! Here are the details of her incredible interview:
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Very young. Definitely around five or so. It really solidified for me in undergrad as I wrote my honors thesis around 20/21.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
This is a varied answer. My first novel, Four Women, took me two years to complete because I had to start over in the middle of the process. My latest novel, Beyond Bourbon Street, which I wrote immediately after my debut took me about 10 months. However, my three novels that were released between Four Women and Beyond Bourbon Street I wrote all of them in 2018, and one of them even came out in 2018. Those novels took between 8 and 12 weeks to complete. I prefer a longer timeline to writing rather than a shorter one, but whatever works for you works for you.
3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Disciplined and consistent. I block out at least two hours for writing. Sometimes four. Including when I worked a full-time job. I try to write every day when I’m working on a book project but sometimes life happens. I set chapter goals for myself to meet by the end of the week. Some people set word count goals. Whatever the method you have to be disciplined and consistent.
4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if I have one. I write in silence. I know some people like to have music playing but that distracts me. I need absolute silence so I can hear and see my characters as I’m writing.
5. Where do you get your information and inspiration for your books?
My inspiration is generally life (mine or someone else’s) and what’s going on in the news. I’m a journalist by trade but as an author I like to take the news of the moment and use it as a gateway into the story of the characters.
6. When did you write your first book?
I started my first book in March 2013. As I mentioned above it took me two years to complete because in March 2014 when I was seven chapters from the end my flash drive died, and I had to start over. I started over in May 2014 after learning I was pregnant with my first child and I wrote through my pregnancy and finished Four Women in March 2015 when my son was about 6 weeks old.
7. What do you like to do when you're not writing? Sleep. Read.
8. What does your family think of your writing? I have no idea. My son really only knows me as a writer. He knows I used to work in news and wonders why I don’t do that anymore but he’s generally always with me for my book events and so it’s really all he knows about me. My husband supports me and allowed me to take this leap of faith and pursue writing full time instead of continuing my career in news. But other than that, we don’t have deep conversations about all the crazy things I come up with in my head.
9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
How hard I’m willing to work for myself on something that I believe in.
10. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have written five novels and one collection of poetry. I’m not sure I have favorites. I always direct people to my debut, Four Women, because of how hard I worked to get it out it really means a lot to me and paved the way for the other books. My fourth novel, Adulting, was one of the most fun books that I’ve written. And my latest novel, Beyond Bourbon Street, because the story and topic is one I hold very close to my heart with it being set in New Orleans in my grandmother’s house.
11. Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they?
The only tip is to write. You get better by doing. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when it’s not fun. Even when you think it’s trash. Even when you think no one will read it. Write. You’ll get better.
12. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they have to say?
Every now and again people will drop me a message or leave a review. I don’t read the reviews too often because once the book is in the world, I no longer own it, which means I have no control over other people’s reactions to my work. Some people will love it, some people will hate it and think I’m trash for writing it and both camps are entitled to their opinion. Of those who do seek me out there reviews are generally good ones and for that I’m grateful, especially to not have negativity in my inbox. 13. Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself? I’m a regular girl from the southside of Chicago doing what I love. I’m Jermaine’s wife, Mylen’s mom and God is guiding me every step of the way. BIO: Nikesha Elise Williams is a two-time Emmy award winning news producer and author. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and attended The Florida State University where she graduated with a B.S. in Communication: Mass Media Studies and Honors English Creative Writing. Nikesha’s debut novel, Four Women, was awarded the 2018 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Award in the category of Adult Contemporary/Literary Fiction. Four Women, was also recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists as an Outstanding Literary Work. Nikesha is a full time writer and writing coach and has freelanced for several publications including ESSENCE, VOX, Very Smart Brothas, and Shadow and Act. Nikesha lives in Jacksonville, Florida, but you can always find her online at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook.com/NikeshaElise or @Nikesha_Elise on Twitter and Instagram. Her fifth novel, Beyond Bourbon Street, was released August 29. Below is the link to Mrs. Williams’ books including her latest release Beyond Bourbon Street: https://a1e0.engage.squarespace-mail.com/r?m=5f578ea5df756003ac8dd69d&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newwrites.com%2Fbooks%3Fss_source%3Dsscampaigns%26ss_campaign_id%3D5f578762df756003ac8d4b76%26ss_email_id%3D5f578ea5df756003ac8dd69d%26ss_campaign_name%3DQuarantine%2BChronicles%253A%2BSooo%2B.%2B.%2B.%2BNow%2BWhat%253F%26ss_campaign_sent_date%3D2020-09-08T14%253A03%253A33Z&w=56251996e4b0c51f8b7a98f6&l=en-US&s=r0tfdmWBZQn8716twf6uIl3IAOc%3D
Crystal, I agree-Nikesha was amazing in her play. Can’t wait to read her books! -Katherine Hayes October 31, 2020
Marian, I truly appreciate your input. I do hope you get to see Nikesha in one of her plays. She is an incredible playwright & actress. I usually don’t like one-person-plays but…Nikesha took it to another level. -Katherine Hayes October 31, 2020
Thought I didn’t see Nikesha in her play, I did enjoy reading about her also as an author here. Thank you and blessings, Katherine! -Marian Beaman October 19, 2020
I truly enjoyed seeing Nikesha in the one woman play. Nikesha you were amazing. Looking forward to reading your novels. May God continue to bless you. -Crystal Johnson October 19, 2020