Amy Watkins - A Fictional Coming of Age Novel That Addresses Modern-day Youth Issues
Amy is an African American author, physician, and veteran who writes fiction novels that address social issues and spirituality. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Cute for a Black Girl.
Please give us a short introduction to what Cute for a Black Girl is about.
Cute for a Black Girl follows a young Black lady who is beautiful and smart. She has a rough childhood but she gets adopted by a wealthy lawyer and transfers to a primarily White school. Her insecurity develops as a result of recurrent belittling by her peers and community. She is abandoned comatose in an ER and her friends and family must put aside their differences and unify in order to figure out what happens to her. This novel addresses several social issues including racism, police brutality, teenage pregnancy, LGBTQ rights and Christianity, sexual abuse, true friendship, and celebrating diversity.
What inspired you to write a coming of age novel about a beautiful Black girl who is plagued with insecurity?
I am a Black female physician and a veteran. Through my many years of learning, sometimes at mainly White schools, and my years of military service, I have come across several incidents of racism. Many are not as overt as police killing unarmed Black men, but the covert incidents are damaging too. When you hear statements like cute for a Black girl or smart for a Black girl, the intentions may be innocent but the connotation it gives is insulting and can spark insecurity. I wanted people who have faced similar challenges to know that they are beautiful, smart, talented, and loved no matter what race, sex, or sexual orientation.
How has your work as a physician influenced your writing?
My characters, plots, and lessons are strongly influenced by my own life and people I have met over the years (both in my career and personal life). The challenges I have faced in becoming a physician as well as the challenges I have faced in life overall are often depicted. Each of my novels portray a struggle, many of which I have personally faced, that a person must go through to gain wisdom, faith, and maturity.
Tell us more about Chloe. What makes her so special?
Chloe is unconscious for most of the story. She is beautiful and smart though she does not know it yet. She has a promising future. However, what makes Chloe really special is the unique friendships she has developed over the years. Her inner circle is very diverse. A conservative lawyer, a homosexual, a prestigious athlete, a city boy, and a math nerd are among those who are closest to her.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I love to dance. I was in a modern dance company during college and I currently serve in the dance ministry at my church.
Your book deals with a lot of serious issues. Why was this important for you to write about?
America has suffered from racism for centuries. It is a fire that has been fueled by greed, fear, and political power. There have been several movements over the years which has made their dents in this ongoing plague. We had the abolitionists followed by the civil rights movements, and now the black lives matter movement. I am in strong hopes that the current movement will make an even bigger impact and I wanted to do my part by educating, inspiring, and uplifting people through my writing.
This is your second book, after 200 Letters. How has your writing evolved since?
My primary trade is medicine, not writing. So in writing and publishing my first novel, there was a steep learning curve. I had to learn about traditional vs independent publishing, copyrighting, ISBN, editing, and most of all marketing. I am still learning but I have come a long way.
What are you working on right now?
I have a lot of ideas for future fiction novels all of which address social dilemmas and spiritual growth through those struggles. Currently, I am working on a fiction novel called “Stepping off the Porch” which is about a young girl facing pressure over losing her virginity. I also am working on a sequel to my first novel, 200 Letters.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?