[Writer/Interviewer: Ahsinet Brown]
She’s out here living her best life!
Entrepreneur, Design Assistant and Now Author! Kiana St Louis is the definition of a real Goal Getter. Since she was young, The Brooklyn native started writing short stories and poems. Outside of being an Author, Kiana works full time as a Senior Assistant to the Senior Vice President design of Kate Spade. Now, she has self published her very own book 100 days of Dating. Which reflects on individuals and their personal love stories. I I had the chance to speak to Kiana St Louis about her new book. Take a look at our interview below.
What made you get into writing?
I’ve always loved to write. Writing isn’t just something I like to do, it’s a huge part of who I am. Words have always held such power with me and has always been a form a release. As a kid, I’d dabble love poems in the back of my notebooks and pages, I have countless composition books filled with “Dear Diary” beginnings. I guess a huge part of my love for words comes from the fact of how powerful they are. You can say something and leave someone breathless, or sad, or angry, or motivated. Words tell everlasting stories. Growing up, words were what I kept close. I feel my love for writing really expanded in junior high school, I’ve written the most diary entries during those 3 years lol. I studied literature throughout high school and focused on finding my niche in writing at the Secondary School for Journalism. It was in high school that I found the styles of poetry I enjoy reading and found favorite authors that I’d lose time with; writing is truly a world of its own. But it’s when I got to college and picked up Public Relations and Journalism as a major and concentration that I knew I’d found my place in this world. Which is right on the front lines with pen in hand. You graduated college back in 2015, how was life been for you since college? My life is a joke lol. But no, post-grad life has definitely been rewarding! I have had my share of ups and downs for sure, but the most important lesson I’ve learned is to keep on going. There is no situation too big for God to handle, and its my faith that gives me comfort. Since college, I’ve worked for 3 different companies – Adobe, Coach and now Kate Spade New York. When I first graduated, I got a job less than a month after crossing the stage with Adobe. I thought it was perfect, and in some ways it was. I was in a big city doing exactly what I wanted (Asst. editor to Adobe’s 99U Magazine). But after 2 years and change in management, writing daily and having to be stripped of my personal style and voice was taking away the love I had for words. It was becoming forced and unnatural. Not to mention I was feeling less than appreciated and valued by my team. So I took a chance on myself and quit. Leaving 66k and security behind to be happy and that was probably the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. But it’s this very risk that sparked my fire for wanting more. I now work in fashion (which I adore) working side by side and assisting the SVP and Creative directors as our teams craft the perfect hand bags and leather goods. This was a complete change of pace for me but it’s also given me the freedom to truly get back to myself and my passion for writing. It’s because of this freedom, I was able to create 100 Days of Dating. What made you want to create a book? I had no idea 100 Days of Dating was going to be a book! This truly started as a humble project to get over my broken heart. I was just so tired of feeling sad and alone, and when I realized I wasn’t that’s when things started changing for me. I was interviewing friends/family, or just random people that agreed to talk and it was the people reading along with me post after post that wanted to see this through. Once I realized I wasn’t just writing for me anymore, once I realized there was a gang of people who not only felt the way I did, but were also seeking release was the moment I knew this was bigger than me. The way love has had its way with me is different. I’ve been hurt so many times before by different men. Men who’ve played me, men who’ve wasted my time, men who’ve used me, men who’ve lied to me… the list goes on. Yet not one of them could truly steal my joy, and that’s because I feel I’m called to greater. I don’t know if I’ll ever get married or have kids, but I do know that I’ve still managed to create a legacy with 100 Days of Dating. These words are my legacy and they’ll live on forever.
What is your writing process like? I actually don’t have one! Lol Or maybe not having a process is my process? I don’t know but every time I’m asked this question I’m stumped. I don’t have a specific way of writing or even a certain mood to be in. If I’m asked to speak at an event, recite a poem, or just write anything at all, it always gets done the week of or the night before the due date. I’m a huge procrastinator yet I’m never overwhelmed. I just let the words flow from me onto the paper. I have no path to follow, no style to imitate or inspiration I search for, I literally just take time out to sit and write on lined paper. I never type anything first, I’m old school, I need a pen and paper. I jot things down, I let my mind wonder and then the words come. I always look for feedback right away and always need to read my work aloud. Once I’ve let about 5 people hear it, I’m good to go.
What would you say is the most challenging thing about being a writer? Staying fresh. Which I think is definitely a common challenge for any creative. We’re always battling ourselves, our ideas, our old imaginations. As a creative you seek to be original, to have your own style and voice, and to resonate with people, and it’s challenging to do that when everyone else has the same mindset. I also think a huge challenge of writing is justifying our purpose. So few people truly read anymore. I’ve had so many people tell me my book is the first book they’ve read in years, which is crazy to me! Reading is fundamental for me, I need it. I need to be learning something through literature every day, and it’s tough to be in an industry where people don’t share that with you. So I’m tasked with making reading worth it again. How do you bring life to an industry that most people think is dead? That’s what I’m working on right now with my book. These are just another set of words, these are real-life people with real-life stories. When you read this you feel something. Print ain’t dead. And I’ll continue to write until everyone believes that. How did you come up with concept for your book? I had no concept for a book, because I didn’t know I was going to write one when I first started the interview process. 100 Days of Dating started as a project a part of Elle Luna’s 100 Day Project. Elle, an Adobe partner and artist started the 100-Day Project challenge in an effort to have creatives work on their craft daily, for 100 days straight. I took the challenge! I dedicated 100 days (give or take) to writing about love. At the time I had just gone through a really bad break up with my boyfriend of 10 years and was distraught, all I could think about was love. I started having conversations with this guy at work and found out that he was going through a divorce for months. He was miserable and realized he rather be at work than home. It was in that conversation that found 2 broken hearts in the café. Our conversation sparked everything for me and I went our searching for other love stories. I found 100 men and women who not only needed someone to talk to but wanted to release. In a weird way, I guess the concept for my book found me. Describe the process of writing 100 Days of Dating? How did you come up with the title/What was the process like ? Coming up with the title was easy because it was real and literal – my book is a compilation of love stories about dating over the course of 100 days. What I like most about the title is it’s not really clear so you have to pick it up and read to know more but when you do get into it, you don’t stop lol! I chose to self-publish my book because this project was so special to me, I wanted to make sure I had complete creative control from the editing down to cover design. I wanted to market the way I wanted, reaching specific audiences and truly make every part of the process mine. So in making that decision, I had find my own editorial team, design team, market, and everything! I chose to work with friends and people I trusted, so choosing my cover artist (Deidre Darius) was a no brainer. She’s the dopest artist out of Brooklyn, NY. Hands down. She’s a woman of color and God-fearing and always has my back and I will always have hers. Once we became partners, I basically just researched everything else. I got our work copyrighted first thing. I began editing all the blog entries, and had one of my best friends who also writes, Ebony Lewis, co-edit. While the editing was happening, I was simultaneously working with Kindle and Amazon on publishing data. I edited some more (this was the toughest part) and then I edited the piece 3 more times after that. I created bookmarks, bags, pins and oversized easels and planned a launch party to fall around my 25th birthday lol. It was a LOT. It was the second biggest risk I’d taken on myself and I’ve never felt more proud. What is the most important thing you have to consider when publishing a book?
I’d say rights. Some people thing self-publishing is a waste of time and find very little value, while others have become best-sellers and only publish themselves. So it’s important to know where you stand and what rights matter to you. Do you want to just have a big name behind your book that can open you up to wider audiences but takes away your style? Or do you do the whole thing yourself, work hard and pray for big break? I feel as long as you choose with intention, you’re successful no matter what you choose. But it has to be your choice to make.
Do you have a daily habit of writing/ how often do you write? How did you feel when your book first got published? Yes, I write something every day. Maybe it’s a short poem, a quote, or scrambled line that I heard someone on the train say, whatever it is, I document it. Those words come in handy when I least expect it. When my book was finally published and released to the world on August 1st, 2018 I cried. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that I did the thing I said I wanted to do a year before. I couldn’t believe people were actually buying it! I still can’t believe the reviews as people reads and when they’re done. I’m so happy. I feel so free. I feel so accomplished. Now I want more. I’ve inspired myself, I’ve given myself goosebumps. The woman I am becoming excites me a little more each day. If I can get through that kind of pain, if I can declare success and actively claim it, if I can say something and then do it, I am unstoppable. This book has given me a confidence like never before. I am a strong, talented, black woman and my words tell me so. If this is what pain can do, I can only imagine what type of mess happiness will make!
What kind of advice would you give to aspiring writers? My advice to aspiring writers is this – You are not aspiring to be a writer, you are a writer. Claim power over your life. If you want to apply for that writing program but you’re unsure – apply. If you want to write a book, write one! The only things we regret should be the chances we don’t take. Writing is power. Words give life new meaning. Find your passion and then write all about it! Even when the world says no, still scream yes. You make your own blueprints. Keep reading, keep writing, keep imagining a world created by you, sooner or later it will all come to life.
Be sure to follow Kiana on Instagram @fashionismyamour & make sure you purchase “100 Days Of Dating” now on https://www.amazon.com/100-Days-Dating-Kiana-Louis