Crystal Brown-Tatum – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Saltwater Taffy and Red High Heels: My Journey through Breast Cancer follows the one-year period in my life from my diagnosis of stage IIIA breast cancer at the age of 35 through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and recovery. I felt a small lump in my armpit area and ignored it for 8 months before I went to a doctor. After learning of my diagnosis, I felt very passionate about warning other women about ignoring similar lumps.

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I attended the University of Houston where I graduated from the Honors College in Radio-Television. I’ve been an editorialist and freelance journalist for more than 15 years. I am an Army wife and have a 16 year old daughter.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was very surprised and disappointed to find few resources written for or by African-American women in regards to breast cancer.I felt that other women who were like me had the same questions and needs that I had as a young African-American breast cancer patient. Writing the book was also therapeutic for me as I was going through treatment.

How did you publish this book?

I sent query letters to several agents and was declined. I knew that my story could save lives and put a new and accurate face on advanced stage breast cancer and I wasn’t going to let rejection stop me from sharing this very important book. I had experienced a bum deal with another publishing company so I was more careful in going with a company this time. I chose because the process was simple and I didn’t have to put a lot of money upfront. I also appreciate being able to order just the amount of books I need.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

My love of writing started in my childhood. I would always write poems and rap lyrics. In college, I had a weekly column and quickly grew a nice sized following.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

The hardest part of writing is putting a limit to your thought pattern. You have to learn to draw the line or end the paragraph. I could ramble on for days but you have to learn how to give detail and information in the right amount.

How do you do research for your books?

For my breast cancer book, I interviewed my closest friends and conducted a lot of internet and magazine research.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

Yes, I learned that it is important to have the right, supportive people in your life. I learned that one person truly can make a difference in the world. By sharing our testimonies, we can encourage and inspire others who are about to begin on similar journeys.

What are you reading now?

In her shoes by Jennifer Weiner. It’s a fun, light read but she is one of my favorite authors. Chick lit is how I relax and laugh aloud these days.

Who are your favorite authors?

I’ve read all of Maria Shriver’s books. She is candid and sincere in all of her books. She’s also a dynamic women. My favorite authors are Kate White, the late E. Lynn Harris, Jennifer Weiner, Terry McMillian and Jodi Picoult.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’ve been in the public relations business for seven years and I’ve learned a lot owning my own business. I have yet to write a business book and have been encouraged to. I would like to share how I grew a successful business in a highly competitive city as a single parent. If I can do it, anyone can!

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Do your research. Ask other authors you meet about their publishing experience. Research your genre and target audience because trends and audiences change. Always have someone you trust read your work and be prepared to accept their honest opinions and feedback.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

My book has been well received in the oncology sector and survivor circles. I developed a marketing plan for the book prior to publishing it and followed through. I continue to speak at engagements and share my story with churches, business groups, students and cancer support organizations.