Rarely do I run across a book that gets me thinking deeply about controversial social issues that are widely undiscussed. Tola Lisa Vivour’s book did just that when I had the opportunity to work with her a few years ago. Her work started as a passionate project hoping to shed some light on these issues and ended up telling a compelling coming of age story. Tola’s book is available now, but don’t expect a lighthearted girl-becomes-woman story line, this is filled with hard truths that will get you hugging your daughters and telling them how much you love them. I snagged her for an interview about her process and her passion.

*Editor’s note: In the years since this interview, these social issues have had more light shed on them thanks to writers like Tola. Stories like these are integral to opening minds and discussions in bold and subtle ways. I greatly believe that stories can help us all become better people.

Jacque: Tola, tell me a little about yourself and your debut book.

Tola Lisa Vivour: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration. I am the author of The Dark Days of Esther. A YA fiction novel about a young girl who has everything but love. Her quest for love almost destroyed her.

JH: You’re very passionate about the subject matter. What sparked that passion?

TLV: The quest for love is a fundamental human need. Unfortunately, unsavory individuals have used that need for financial gain. I have [been] deceived before and I hated it, I draw my passion from experience and not wanting others to go through what I went through.

JH: I think your book does a great job of warning young women against some of those pitfalls. How long did it take you to write and how many drafts did you go through?

TLV: It took forever, just kidding. It took me a year to write and about a year to edit. Too many drafts to count.

JH: That’s not too bad! Some authors spend that amount of time just getting the first draft done. Was there ever a time you felt fatigued? If so, what continued to march you forward?

TLV: I was tired re-writing. When I was tired, I simply took some time off. It gave me the opportunity to look at my novel with fresh eyes.

JH: That’s such great advice! Speaking of rewrites, was the editing process anything like you expected it to be? Why or why not?

TLV: It was not what I expected; authors need a substantial [development] editor and two line by line editors. Get ready to see your novel ripped apart over and over again, but at the end it is worth it.

Writing a book is like discovering a diamond. It needs to be chiseled before you can see its brilliance.

JH: What a great analogy! Can you give us an example of how your book now shines (compared to the first draft)?

TLV: Using your services really helped mold the story to where it is today. Removing chapters that do not drive the character to their goal and just having some[one] who supports you and wants you to succeed encourages the author to keep going.

JH: It’s important to surround yourself with people who support you but are willing to give you some hard truths as well. Cutting chapters, scenes, threads, etc. is not an easy thing to do!

TLV: But necessary. My book looks better with your revisions.

JH: How does it feel to have your diamond finally polished and published?

Esther Reed’s world falls apart when her super star basketball dad has a career ending injury and her mother abandons the family. When Andre, the most popular boy in school, asks her to go steady, it’s the escape she craves, but it comes at a price she didn’t bargain for.

TLV: I feel excited and nervous.

JH: Can you expand on that?

TLV: I am happy my novel has a professional feel to it and I am nervous because people will read my novel and feel passionate about it, either good or bad.

JH: I can see how that’s exciting and nerve wracking.

You’ve given some great thoughts to writers out there. Care to leave them with one more note of inspiration?

TLV: Follow your passions; life is too short to worry about what people think.

JH: That’s wonderful! Thank you, Tola! Where can readers reach you?

TLV: They can purchase my novel The Dark Days of Esther on Amazon next month. Or Facebook at Tola Lisa Vivour.

JH: Great! Thanks so much, Tola! It really has been a pleasure.

You can find Tola’s book on Amazon [available now, click cover picture above] or on Bookshop.org (affiliate link). Connect with Tola through Facebook.

Are you an author struggling to know what’s “wrong” with your book? I can help! Contact me ASAP, to see what I can do to help you write your most powerful story.

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