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Interview: Alicia Singleton, Author of Dark Side of Valor

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Alicia Singleton was born and raised in Philadelphia, and is a Howard University graduate who lovingly embraced the written word at an early age. Ms. Singleton credits this to her loving, older sister whom, while they were youngsters, made the author eat lotion on a regular basis. Realizing the need to sound-out the ingredients on the lotion label, Alicia stopped the lotion-eating practice, but continued to read the labels of the concoctions her sister brought for her to try. This early necessity to read lead to a deep passion; hence, a writer was born.

Ms. Singleton, an award winning author, resides in Maryland with her wonderful husband and son.  Still an avid reader, label or otherwise, Alicia Singleton is hard at work completing her next suspense novel.  Her latest book is the suspense novel Dark Side of Valor.  

To learn more about Alicia Singleton and her work, please visit the following links:

Twitter | Facebook | Library Thing | Goodreads | Amazon | YouTube | LinkedIn | Powell’s Books | Simon & Schuster | BooksAMillion l Website

Please tell us a bit about your book and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

Dark Side of Valor is a suspense novel about Lelia Freeman. The former runaway turned child advocate gets summoned to Washington to serve on a subcommittee that aids the children of a war-torn African nation. She stumbles onto sinister, political secrets that turns her life into a nightmare then has to depend on a tall, dark handsome stranger to save her life. But he has secrets of his own.

There’s always hope. No matter what situation one may find themselves in, there’s always hope. That’s what I want readers to take away from reading Dark Side of Valor.

Who are your favorite characters in the story?

My favorite characters in Dark Side of Valor are Aunt Lou and Romeo Jones. Aunt Lou grew up in the jungles of Zaire, but traveled the world as well. She’s outrageous. Bright yellow tee-shirts, neon orange basketball earrings, high-top sneakers and a kente cloth skirt match her boisterous, outspoken personality. Romeo Jones is a cab driver who loves himself very, very, very much. Who doesn’t know a brother or sister who spends more time looking at themselves in the mirror then they spend breathing. Both characters were extremely fun to write.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

“Pain played just below the surface of Lelia’s stare. Sadness, despair seeped from her stiff body, stroked Joella.
Joella opened her mouth, then closed it. No amount of talking would ease the look fixed on Lelia’s face. Joella knew better. She’d seen that same look reflected in her own mirror. She’d lived in the same hell many times herself, almost didn’t get out.
Life, cruel and hard, must have whipped up on Lelia, made her draw inside herself like a cornered hare drawn inside its burrow. Best thing to do was leave her be, for now. A burrow was the safest place for her.
Joella was an expert on safe burrows. They made life endurable, harbored your mind, saved you from going mad.
A lifetime ago, they were the only way she’d survived. She used to fill her burrows with rainbows, magic dragons and pretty horned horses. All the things her daddy used to spin tales about before he’d tuck her into bed. She hadn’t needed safe burrows when Mama and Daddy were around. But all that vanished when they left.
For a while, Grandma Dell was all she had. Until Cousin Daryl came sniffing around, hard on his luck. Evil took the form of that hard-on-his-luck doper.
Joella thought hell was missing her parents. Cousin Daryl had other thoughts of hell. He shared them with her daily.
Open-handed cuffs across the face, kicks to the ribs. The thrashings. Still, no hell he executed terrorized her more than the darkness.
Cousin Daryl always locked her alone. In the darkness.
Grandma Dell tried to stop him, but he hit her, too, forced her in her room.
Joella could still hear Grandma calling through her bedroom door, begging him to stop. She still felt fire scorch her skull from his fingers clenched in her hair, still remembered half screeching, half choking on fear as he drug her to the barn. Taught her her lesson.
Sprawled on her stomach, her back ripped raw. Tears puddled mud under her cheek. Dirt and sweat throbbed in her busted lip. Blood and bile sullied her tongue. Unable to move, she lay in the blackness, hushed her sobs, scared he’d hear. Scared he’d come back to teach her more lessons. Those were the times her safe burrows surrounded her, pressed insanity to the fringes of her mind.
One night she ran away from Cousin Daryl while he was sleeping off a high. She’d helped Grandma Dell to Granddad’s old truck, and drove off. Her feet barely reached the pedals. They hit a couple of ditches, but they’d made it.
A family friend in the next county took them in. For a few weeks hell disappeared. It resurfaced when Cousin Daryl tracked them down.
Joella took off, never looked back.
Some nights Cousin Daryl still found her, stole into her dreams, locked her in darkness. Memories of Daddy or Mama didn’t keep him from hurting her, remembering Grandma Dell’s kind words didn’t hold him at bay. Only Lelia’s soft voice broke through the death dream to save her.
Now Lelia needed saving.
Her friend knelt in front of the candlelit muffin. Zombified, she stared at the burning wick.
Comfort was the only thing Joella could offer. She shrugged the rough quilt off her shoulders, wrapping them both in it. She rocked like Grandma Dell used to do. It felt like forever. The hardwood dug into her knees, the candle burned, she kept rocking.
For once, Lelia needed her. No matter what, she’d be Lelia’s light, ’cause no one should be left in the darkness.”

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

Lelia Freeman – Thandie Newton – I stand in awe of her acting talent
Ma Ella – Cicely Tyson – Her gift is legendary
Elijah Dune – Jeffery Wright – He’s brilliant
Marcellus Dupree – Tyrese Gibson – His smile fits Marcellus’ character
Zeek – Terrance Howard – He can portray a really good, bad guy
Thero – Lester Speight – I went to high school with Lester. His height and size fit Thero perfectly
President Deng – Itris Elba – His acting portrayals can be very calm and explosive, like President Deng’s character

What are your favorite aspects of writing?

The creativity, the excitement of bringing a ‘what if’ question to a viable plot, writing conflict driven scenes that flow like music

Your least favorite aspects of writing?

Writer’s block, and at times, the solitude

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

J. California Cooper, Iris Johansen, Edgar Allan Poe, Walter Mosley, Homer

What are you reading right now?

The Iliad, again.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors – dead or alive – who would they be and what would you serve them?

Edgar Allan Poe – liver and onions
Walter Mosely – scotch and Callahan Cut prime rib
L.A. Banks – a Bloody Mary and Shrimp Etouffee
Iris Johansen – Wedge Salad and Lump Crab Cakes
Aristotle – fish and figs

What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

Although The Fall of the House of Usher isn’t a novel, its one short story I’d love to say I’ve written. Indicative of Edgar Allan Poe’s works, it’s so lyrical. The beautiful, sensory rich descriptions are brilliant and the suspense is nail-biting.

What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

Desire backed by faith knows no such word as impossible.

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