An Interview With Fort Worth’s Rare Diamond–Author Amara Russell

Fort Worth native, Amara Russell is the author of the much talked about novel “A Rare Diamond”. Even though this is her first novel to be published she is no stranger to writing.  Her love for writing has been evident to those around her since elementary school when her first article was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was our honor to have a great conversation with her.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading today?

Some of the people I enjoy reading are Priscilla Shirer. Her book “A Jewel in His Crown” is one of my favorites; it has brought me through a lot of things that were occurring in my life at the time. Another author that I like is Lysa Terkeurst.  Her book  “The Best Yes” is about making wise decisions when going through certain situations.

Who and what do you read just for fun? Also, what is a book that you have read more than once?

I love romance novels.  There is a book by Eric Jerome Dickey called “Friends and Lovers” about different relationships.  He adds a lot of humor to his books and I enjoy that. It’s a thick little novel, and I have read it several times.

Was “A Rare Diamond” the first manuscript that you finished?

It was the first manuscript that I finished.  It took me a year to write it.  I was laid off my job in 2015, and for the first couple of months, I spent my time trying to find employment. When I didn’t find anything I decided to use the time to do something that I liked–writing.  Writing helped to heal my stress. I put my frustrations into the manuscript.

Writing became my full-time job.  Every day when I woke up, I poured myself into writing.  It was something I loved to do.

Tell us about the inspiration for the novel–was any of it born out of personal experiences?

Actually, there are a lot of bits and pieces of the story that are related to my life, and things around me. I would visit coffee shops, relatives houses and observe activities that I added to the story.

When I found employment, I wasn’t able to put the time I needed into the writing of the book.  When I loss my mom I  was able to relate to Celeste, the main character in the book who loses her mom.  This event inspired me to get back to writing nonstop.

That’s interesting what you said about being able to relate to Celeste after the loss of your mother.  That’s something people tend to think they can relate to but can’t when they have not experienced that loss.  They know what to say, but they can’t relate.

Right, when I would express to people that I was still hurting they couldn’t understand because they had not experienced it, and until they do, they won’t understand.

I understand, and God will get you through it, but you never get over it, and it is never the same.  There is a void that is always going to be there.

Right.

Now Celeste is the main character in your novel.  Tell us a little about her.  I know that you said she loss her mother at 5.  Without giving away the story tell us a little bit more about her.

Celeste is witty, smart and beautiful.  She is courageous, and she doesn’t bite her tongue about anything, but she says what she means in a subtle way.  She takes her characteristics from her mother who was filled with integrity.  Her mother could walk into a room and capture everyone’s attention.  Celeste picked up a lot of those qualities.

The story is about her life from the age of 5 to 25. She is a young woman trying to find her way, her identity without her mom.

What other characters in the novel play a pivotal role?

Derrick is a childhood friend of Celeste who grew up in the neighborhood.  Really he was her brother’s friend first.  As they grew older they were able to relate because he had suffered the loss of his father at an early age, and he had older siblings who were all girls, and her older siblings were boys.

Another main character is her brother Craig. Celeste and Craig have a very close relationship.  She leans on him, and he leans on her in certain situations.  I would say that Derrick and Craig are two of my other main characters.

From some of the comments that we  have read people say that the book kept them on their toes until the very end.  So if we were going to the bookstore what two sections would we find “A Rare Diamond”?

Probably in the Faith-based section and also in the Romance section.

If you were to have “A Rare Diamond” made into a movie, who would you have to play the main characters?

Oh my God, I knew you would ask that, and I have those people written down (laughter).

It’s important because when people read a novel they picture certain people.  I have to read the book before I see the movie.  I remember going to see “Waiting to Exhale”, and none of those people were the people I pictured except Loretta Devine.  She had the sass that was in the book.  I met Walter Mosley and told him that I did not see Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins, and he said he didn’t either.  I told him I pictured a young Laurence Fishburne.  He told me when you sell the rights to your book, then the studio picks the actors.  So who do you have as Celeste?

For Celeste, there were two people. I had in my mind LeToya Luckett could play her or Keisha Knight Pulliam.

Oh, why those two?

The similarities when I envision my character, I see them as her. And then their personalities when I see them in films or on television.  Those personalities fit Celeste.

Ok, what about Derrick?

Derrick, the minute I started writing I don’t know why but I envisioned the actor Lance Gross.

Oh, okay, yes.  That’s a good one.  What about Craig?

Craig because he’s so hilarious–even when I was writing the novel I would crack up from some of the things he would say.  To me, I always said Mike Epps (laughter) .

Oh my God! (laughter).  He would be a wonderful big brother. 

Just to add one more, the mother because she is such an inspiration.  It’s like I didn’t want to kill her off at the beginning so I was kind of going back and forth, but Angela Bassett always came to mind when I was writing the story.

She would be good.  Even in her personal life, she seems to be into her family and her faith. You are going to have a hometown book signing.  Tell us about it.

The book signing will be downtown Fort Worth at the Marie Antoinette Parfumiere and Spa which is located at 101 West 2nd directly across from the Worthington Hotel.  It will be on Saturday, February 10 from 3 to 5.  A pre Valentine event.

Are you working on a sequel or another novel?

I am actually working on a trilogy to “A Rare Diamond”, I’m going to break it up into three parts.

That will be nice.

Well, we thank you for your time.  We’ll see you at your book signing.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

 

“A Rare Diamond” can be purchased at Amazon, the Barnes and Noble website or on http://www.nspired2write247.com.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Happening?

I love to sit on the floor, and I’m not sure why–it’s just a habit.  If I’m not on the floor then I am in my favorite chair reclining just a little.  Getting off the floor is not a problem, in fact it is easy.  I credit this to the fact that I have always tried to do some form of exercise.

Recently thought I went to get up out of my favorite chair, and something happened.  It was something that caught me by surprise.  It seemed that my hip had a catch in it.  I’m not really sure how to explain it, not a pain, but a catch.

After a couple of steps it was okay, and I didn’t really think that much about it.  There had been other signs that something was happening tthat I had noticed, but kind of put out of my mind.  The first thing that I noticed was that I don’t like jumping exercises, and I haven’t liked them for some time.  It feels like something is loose inside, and it feels funny.  I still do them sometimes, but I have found other exercises instead of jumping jacks that give the same results.

Years ago the doctor told me I had a torn meniscus, and that he didn’t suggest surgery, just therapy.  That knee is not the same.  It doesn’t hurt, it is just not the same as it was before. Since the doctor said that I could have torn it years earlier, I told my husband it was from my tomboy days as a child playing sports with boys.

But back to the hip, what is the problem?  I finally found out–nothing.  It is just one of the signs of aging.  It’s sort of like your house when things still work, but not as good as when you first got them.  It may take the water heater a little longer to heat the water, but it still heats.  It may take the television a little longer to switch stations (you channel surf), but you get there.

I wondered how I would feel if I didn’t exercise or if I didn’t stretch every morning.  It didn’t take me long to realize that it would be a lot worse.  All of these things are happening as we age.  Take a look at a baby lying on the floor.  The baby can put his toes in his mouth.  Can you, and why would you want to? This is just to say that flexibility is something that we all must continue to work on.  Exercise may need to be fine tuned, and some things may need to be added and/or deleted.

So I have decided that I will continue to exercise and do the stretches.  The trainer has even changed how she trains us as we have matured–she has matured too.

The hip, the knee, the insides, the torn meniscus and everything else reminds me of a car.  If you keep up the maintenance, it may not run as it did when it was driven off the showroom, but it still keeps going with only a few hiccups that are called aging.

So what is happening?  It’s call aging, but we can age like fine wine.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

Enjoy Yourself–You’re Worth It

by CY Cooper

It seems like it was only a day or so ago we were all enjoying the sights and sounds of the Christmas season.  It’s really hard to believe that we are now moving toward the middle of January 2018 and getting set for the next BIG holiday, which is Valentines Day.  It didn’t take the retail stores long to move forward as they were putting up hearts and flowers the day after Christmas.

You know it’s not a secret that the holiday season is just plain busy for everyone. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, church or other organization functions, most of us find ourselves so busy we don’t have time for ourselves or to just look around, sit for a quiet moment and ENJOY the season.

Well during the holiday hustle and bustle I did a couple of activities for yours truly.  I registered for a total of (3) cooking classes.  Two of the classes took place at the Fort Worth Cooking School at Central Market and the other at Sur La Table in Fort Worth.  Let me tell you, all (3) classes were hands on, educational and a lot of FUN.  Besides taking home the recipes and instructions on what we accomplished in class, all participants took home a nice sampling of our finished baked goods.  Now I’m sure you’re probably thinking that you want to do anything but cook/bake, BUT as stated earlier it was FUN, a lot of FUN. It was an activity where you could go with a friend or by yourself and meet other people with an interest in cooking/baking.  Plus, for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours you were away from the holiday rush.  I learned to bake everything from buttermilk biscuits in a cast iron skillet, Parker House rolls to eggnog cranberry swirl bread just to name a few.

I didn’t just stop with the cooking/baking classes.  My sister and I attended the Texas Ballet Theater’s THE NUTCRACKER at the wonderful Bass Hall.  It’s become a family tradition and it’s a MUST SEE.  If you’ve never had the chance to see this ballet, you should.  It just may become one of your Christmas traditions.

carol 3

And finally, yours truly is a fan of tea, and The Ashton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth starts their Holiday Tea Service the day after Thanksgiving.  This was my first time attending but I can tell you it won’t be my last.  I tried to reserve a couple of seats for the week before Christmas but they were all booked up.  I made a reservation instead for a date after Christmas and even then there wasn’t an empty seat to be found.  Holiday Tea at The Ashton Hotel runs through the end of the month of December.  The tea was EXCELLENT and so relaxing.  DEFINITELY put this activity on your TO DO list for the 2018 Holiday Season.  

The Christmas of 2017 was busy and it sped by quickly, but I can truly say it was FUN and memorable.

It’s 2018.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.