Welcome to installment, #2 with Author, Illustrator, and Founder of Faradai Literary, Tara Mixon.
With a finger on the pulse of black sisterhood and storytelling, Mixon is a true cultural savant. As a mother, multidisciplinary artist and educator, Mixon not only teaches and studies literary traditions of the African Diaspora she embodies them. Join us in welcoming the complete ideal of womanly dopeness, Tara Mixon.
Q: WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
A: July 12, Orlando, Florida
Q: WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS?
A: Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Lucille Clifton, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker.
Q: DO YOU KNOW THE STORY OF HOW YOU WERE NAMED?
A: My mom was just 16 when she had me. One of her schoolmates was a beautiful, confident, Afrocentric young woman whom she greatly admired. Her name was Tara. Mom thought that perhaps the name had an African origin and she hoped that by giving me that name, I might grow up to be somewhat like the Tara she encountered in her youth.
Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A: It exhausts me, but that is how I know that what I am writing is valuable. It’s very similar to childbirth in that way.
Q: What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? Or want to?
A: I would like to follow in the tradition Baldwin and many of the greats and write in Paris for a season.
Q: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A: I can only write what is true to me. I am hopeful that my tribe will find me.
Q: What does literary success look like to you?
A: Producing a work that is timeless for me. What I mean is that I can look upon the book, read it, and find that the words are still true and honest even if times have changed.
Q: Do you think there is a void in the industry that you could fill? If so, where and how could you fill it?
A: I do. I have a love for short-form storytelling. It is something I believe in. There’s a craft to brevity with connection, with impact. I enjoy that challenge.
Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
A: My freshman year of college when my professor bowed down to me and told me that she wasn’t worthy. It was embarrassing at the time but it did let me know that I was on the right path. But that was her confidence. It’s taken many more years for me to know that I am a writer.
Q: How do you handle writer’s block?
A: I am not sure that it is a thing for me. I either write or don’t write. I am never lacking for inspiration. It’s just a matter of time and prioritizing for me.
What are the tools of the trade?
A true love and respect for the craft of writing, a healthy and well-read personal library, a Pentel side-click pencil, and a moleskine.
Q: When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood?
A: Music is always the move. Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is my go to. It’s comforting, not forceful. It does not attempt to add its own voice but allows the truth about the story to reveal itself.
Q: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A: I have written many, published three. My next book is always my favorite. When that is no longer true, it is time to stop writing.
Q: Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.
A: Hadari. She is the elusive mother in When Grey Was Black. She doesn’t have a lot of dialogue in the story, but her absence speaks volumes. She is speaking without speaking, and she doesn’t mind being misunderstood.
Q: Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?
A: I finished YMWAP in my great aunt’s home as we were preparing to bury her. It was very cathartic to give life to something at a time when we had lost so much. It was a work that took decades to commit to finishing. And being in that place, it is all that I could do to keep breathing.
Q: What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?
A: I had always dreamed that Dr. Angelou would personally hand me the baton, that she would call on me to continue the work. She had a command of the English language that very few possess.
Q: What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?
A: My great-grandparents' home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There are no traffic lights there, no stores, not even a street address. That’s my origin, my history. Even as I child, I worked to uncover its secrets, to hear its voice.
*****Share a link to a favorite song****
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