In this age of e-readers and Kindles, Dedra Stevenson embraces the printed word, and talks about her latest book – Desert Magnolia and how she, as an author, deals with fans and critics alike…
TEMPO: Dedra Stevenson is a woman of many hats. How would you describe her?
Dedra: She is a bi-cultural Adjunct Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Zayed University, the Co-Managing Director of Blue Jinni Media, and the Co-Founder of Women in Film and Television, UAE. Ok, that’s my professional answer, but if you ask me personally who I am, I’ll tell you that I’m a writer at heart, and I’ll never stop. Otherwise, I’m a family woman, a good friend, and a person who cares passionately about what I do and the messages that I’m putting out there.
TEMPO: How did you discover your passion for writing?
Dedra: I kept a diary even when I was a kid, and I was always the kind of child that lived in my imagination quite a bit, as it gave me an escape from my difficult childhood. Until now, I use my vivid imagination as a means of living out of this world and escaping the pressures and drama of daily life. So, writing started out as a fun hobby for me. I minored in English as an undergraduate, but ever since I first stepped into a library for the first time, I knew that I wanted to “be” one of those immortal names on the shelf, and now I am. It’s a very fulfilling experience.
TEMPO: You have written a few books, including The Hakima’s Tale series. Your latest is “Desert Magnolia” – what is it about?
Dedra: “Desert Magnolia” is my first family crime drama novel, and I’m proud to say that it’s a bi-cultural tale as well, which reflects me very well. The novel is about a woman from the American South who, in spite of her comfortable life in Dubai, has been called back home to defend her cousin, who’s been accused of murdering her father. This means that she must face the demons of the past and a family that threw her away long ago.
I’m from the American South, so the story is very special to me, and although it is a work of fiction, the culture of where I’m from is reflected.
TEMPO: How did the people around you react to your work?
Dedra: I’m blessed with many terrific supporters, and thankfully my closest friends and my family have always been behind me all the way. Readers also really like my books, at least most of them. There will always be critics, no matter what you do, but I try to not focus on them at all.
TEMPO: Which writers inspire you?
Dedra: Steven King and George R.R. Martin are inspirations of mine. I love their descriptions of scenes and the way they build a character. I feel like I’m there, in the story, and I can see the characters in my mind’s eye.
TEMPO: What’s a normal day like for Dedra Stevenson?
Dedra: Well, I wish I could say that I always got enough sleep, but I don’t, as it seems that there is always something to do. I take my kids to school, and I get on to the university to do my teaching. After that, I usually go to some sort of fitness activity, like Body Pump or walking in the park. When I get home and am relaxed is when I can potentially engage in a little writing, after spending a bit of quality time with my family of course. I like to think of writing as my guilty pleasure, something I do just for me, and that’s exactly the attitude that one must have to get through a book.
TEMPO: And your future plans…?
Dedra: My business partner at Blue Jinni Media and I are currently working on a series of novellas for teens with a paranormal theme. This should be very exciting, and I think that there’s a lot of potential for building a community around that.
TEMPO: Do you have anything to say to aspiring writers?
Dedra: Write what you love. If you’re bored with it, everyone else will be too. Try to use bits and pieces from your own experiences to serve as a spring board for a story of fiction, because the story will become more personal to you.