I’d like you to meet American writer Stephanie Guerilus.
I enjoyed her articles online but didn’t know she was also a novelist till I came across her book cover. So, being a nosy person, I asked her some questions!
Q1: Are novels your main form of writing?
As a journalist, I’m always writing and editing. It’s second nature at this point but my novels allow me the freedom to let my imagination soar.
In the era of “fake news”, I’m more aware than ever that credibility can easily be lost and so I try to always present the best possible work.
Q2: What inspired this story?
I’m a big fan of Mariah Carey and so I decided to write a story about a biracial singer, Theresa Marie Jenkins. Aspects of my life began to form around that idea.
I’m a survivor of sexual abuse and I really wanted others who have experienced the same, especially girls and teenagers, to know that there’s no such thing as the perfect victim. Your body is yours alone.
Speaking of Mariah Carey, I was able to meet the elusive chanteuse and place Control in her hands. In the immortal words of Whitney Houston, that was a moment quite pleasing. I waited in the cold for almost six hours and was sick for almost two months later but I met her.
I’d love to meet Janet Jackson since her song Control inspired the title and overall theme of the novel. Reesa Jenkins is 17 years old, battling for control of her life and agency.
Q3: How did you become a writer and what do you hope readers will take away from your novel?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid. I had my dolls, notebook and would create stories for them. Sometimes, I’d spy on the arguments in the house and write a report on it as if I were Lois Lane on deadline. That same energy is present in my novel.
It may not be perfect and in many ways, I don’t even want it to be. You always struggle with your first baby and learn. I hope that each word written makes people think, not just about the plot but how it mirrors real life and if they can make a difference.
Q4: Is the protagonist at all like the younger you?
I sprinkled parts of my personality into the four central characters and fleshed them out.
Reesa is a dreamer, marches forward, ready to be a trailblazer and has that Aries fire in her. She’s a creative creature like I am. Stephanie is woke, small but has the power of dynamite and is a writer. (Yeah, I blatantly put myself in the novel).
Candy is sweet and ready to be the first person to help out a friend. Chanté loves her gossip and is just trying to figure it out.
Q5: What kind of writing or topics are you most passionate about?
I’m very passionate about marginalized communities being given a voice and (about) diversity in newsrooms. It’s important that stories of African Americans and other groups are told by those who have lived experiences.
It angers me to see women, especially Black women, cast aside in narratives. I’m one of the daughters of Ida B. Wells and have the blood of Haitians who fought for their independence. It’s just not in my spirit to not become animated when I see injustice unfolding. We’re not free until everyone is.
Q.6: What are your hopes and dreams as a writer?
I want to be able to know that I made an impact, that my words helped make a difference. Of course, I want to be a best selling author and create a literary empire that allows me a greater platform. Everyday, I’m working towards that goal.
For now, iron sharpens iron. Whatever I’ve been through has fortified me in this moment. There used to be a time I couldn’t even talk about my abuse, much less put that scar into words.
I’ve taken control of my own story.
Brava, Stephanie! Thank you.
To buy “Control” or learn more about Stephanie:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/sguerilus/