- Anna P.
Indie Support Sunday: Meisha Gladney
For teacher Meisha Gladney, telling the story of Black love and writing about characters like herself was the main reason she took this step towards becoming an author. Her debut, Play Another Love Song, released this week and follows a young Black woman figuring out her life and where her journey is headed.
With a YouTube channel dedicated to talking about her author journey and writing updates, Meisha is definitely an author to look out for. While she may not like or care for the grumpy/sunshine trope, Meisha is definitely a fan of a good slow burn and friends to lovers.
Her new adult debut tells the story of a young woman finding herself and speaking up for a change, all while struggled through friendships and everything that comes with growing up.
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
I’ve always been an avid reader growing up and I loved watching the movie Poetic Justice. When I found out the poems featured in the movie were written by Maya Angelou and my 3rd grade teacher had me recite Maya Angelou’s poetry for different school assemblies, I fell in love with her work. She was definitely somebody I always looked up to. I thought that the way I feel from reading and reciting Angelou is the same way I want others to feel from my words. So I started journaling and it went from there.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
I love LOVE. I love reading it and watching it. And especially as a Black woman, I wanted to read and create stories of Black Love that’s just completely normal. No political statement necessary. Nothing revolutionary. Just love between everyday Black folks. We don’t have enough of that.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
I love the creative control that I get. What kept me from writing and wanting to be an author was the whole process and idea of traditional publishing: the validation from other folks and them molding your story to what THEY want it to be. I didn’t know how I felt about that because I like creative freedom.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The best part of being an indie author is the choices and decisions I get to make. The worst part is THE CHOICES AND DECISIONS I GET TO MAKE. LOL. It’s freedom but too much freedom can be overwhelming because everything falls back on you. It’s very time consuming.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?
I do writing on the side. I am an ELA teacher actually so it’s very hard to find time to write. In the future, I would definitely want to write full time. I would love to get there one day.
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
I go through phases of what I enjoy to do and become obsessed with being good at things. But it has always been creative things. I like to read, listen to music, watch TV and movies, and dance. Random things I do from time to time that I’m good at are painting, doing hair, and crocheting circle scarves.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
I would probably do memoir writing.
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
I recommend Sandhya Menon’s Dimpleverse Books/Series. But for a classic recommendation definitely Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Be yourself. Don’t try to be like any other author. Write what makes you happy and is true to you.
Be aware of imposter syndrome. It happens to the best artists, but having awareness of it and self will help you better cope with it.
Find a community. Just because you’re writing alone doesn’ mean the whole process has to be lonely. Find a writing group, beta readers, communicate with your social media audience.
Constantly read. The best way to learn how to write is not from practicing writing. It’s from reading.
And I heard this quote at the end of Criminal Minds episode and it really resonated with me: “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." Cyril Connolly << I have no idea who this guy is btw LOL
Can you briefly tell me about your book?
So my debut novel Play Another Love Song, follows our main character Danielle who is unsure of herself. She has social anxiety that stems from past traumas and no matter how much her friends, Tony and Lacey, encourage her, she just doesn’t see it. However, when her mentor at her internship at a radio station sees a glimpse of her musical genius, she offers Danielle the opportunity of a lifetime: to audition to replace her as the next radio show host. So with the help of her friends, Danielle embarks on a journey of learning to love herself and being confident in who she is. But of course there are some twists and turns along the way and I am so excited for folks to read it.
Of your book, who is your favourite character?
Of all the characters in Play Another Love Song, I would say that Lacey is my favorite. She is unapologetic about who she is and I had the most fun writing her dialogue and scenes. She’s not the gay bestie comedic relief though. She has layers and a backstory and personal problems that inform her decisions as well.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
I wanted to write a story about a character who was like me at a time that I did not like myself and was trying to figure everything out. 21-25 was that time for me. I found it hard to find books for this specific age range. I either kept reading YA (high school, maybe freshman in college) or adult adult (with people already established in their careers). I needed a book for when I was still trying to figure it all out, right after college. Then add in my love for music and voila.
That’s when this story came about, just me thinking and reflecting on my life during the beginning of the pandemic and then saying “I think it’s about time I write a book”. Which was hard for me after 6 years of not writing any stories, I had been so consumed by being a teacher that I forgot about my dreams.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
I hope that the readers feel empathy and understanding. That’s mainly what I want. I want my characters to feel understood because even with their faults and mistakes, you still want them to win and like them. Pretty much how I hope everyone to be in real life with one another.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
I would love to try to write a story with a male protagonist. All of my protagonists really have been women and in first or third person close. So maybe a dual POV book is in my future.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
I’m working on Book 2 of the Another Love series, which will be following Lacey’s story. I love her so much and kept thinking of her story while writing Play Another Love Song that I had to tell her to shut up and be patient. LOL So I guess I promised her a story and she’s going to get it.
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
My favorite tropes are Slow Burn and Friends to Lovers. It’s just something about the anticipation and desire that keeps me on the edge of my seat and smile when two people finally admit that love for each other, even better when they are friends.
My least favorite trope is Grumpy/Sunshine. I guess because I know in real life who in their right mind would get with someone whose personality is ‘asshole’? Like genuinely they have no redeeming qualities except the fact that they are hot. When I think of all the romance books I didn’t like it was because at the end I say, “Why would she choose him? Ewww,” it’s because it had a Grumpy/Sunshine trope. If I have that reaction then, it’s a NO for me.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
I would like to write Steamy stuff. My debut is veerrry tame because of the main character and who she is but in one of these books in the series, I would love to turn the temperature up. I would just need to get over the fact of how awkward it would be to find different ways to name and describe private parts and sexual feelings. I don’t want to be cringe!
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
I want more plus size main character representation for girls AND guys that don’t make their whole personality being plus size and “woe is me because I’m fat.” Sometimes I feel like it can be a gimmick when the main character is plus size and their whole personality or lack of confidence is because they are plus size. As a Black woman who happens to be plus size, I personally don’t think about being plus size all day. There are so many other things going on that everybody can relate to. Give me the confident plus size woman or man who have other normal everyday issues besides pining for the fit super hot love interest.
That’s why I love your book Almost Maybes so much. Oleander just is. She’s all of these things and has all of these issues while she happens to be plus size.
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
My favorite thing about the romance genre is the possibility and how much it is expanding and including. When I was younger all I knew about was those cheesy romance books you will see in grocery stores with Fabio on the front or those “urban sex books” like Zane that my mom read every month with her book club and I use to sneak a copy and take the cover off and read it at school. Now I see there is so much more and it includes more people, experiences, and realities.
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks Neither! Give me my paperback book! LOL
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV (though I love dual POV, it sometimes isn’t done well on the guy side so it’s either a hit or miss in my opinion)
Standalones or series
Music or silence while writing
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Tea or coffee
Cold or warm weather
Morning person or night owl
Illustrated cover or photo cover
Follow Meisha on Instagram and check out her YouTube Channel where she talks about her journey to becoming an author.