Author Spotlight: Aronya Waller
Aronya Waller has been hooked on writing since the second grade. She was raised to fight for others through her words, actions, and deeds, and she continues to embrace those values by pursuing equality within our communities and cultures and through civic engagement through her blog, Her Own Beat. Aronya considers herself a social activist who fights for the rights for all, but most importantly, she wants to help train a conscious generation of activists through her works and writing. Let's check her out, shall we?
First, let’s get to know you a little better.
Where would you go in a time machine?
Not too far in time. (laughing) I think I would just go back to the ‘70s so I could talk to my grandparents on my father’s side. They passed away when I was one, so I don’t remember them. I would like to have a good conversation with them, ask as many questions as I can, and hopefully gain some quick wisdom.
Which super power would you like to have?
Probably mind reading, but that could get me into trouble. Sometimes it’s best to not know what someone is thinking. If not that, then the ability to move at warp speed so that I can go wherever I want. That superpower would have to include a plus one option.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
I would be Rhoyally Golden—it’s a gold crayon with royal blue specks. It’s paying homage to the great sorority that I’ve been a member of for almost 20 years, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
What’s your favorite old school jam?
Can I do it by genres or decades? (laughing) A Song For You by Donny Hathaway, God Is by James Cleveland, P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) by Michael Jackson, No Diggity by Blackstreet, Persona Ideal by Adolescent’s Orquesta, Bidi Bidi Bom Bom by Selena, A Night to Remember by Shalamar. Mint Condition and Boyz II Men. (laughing) I really love music, especially old school music. I’m always playing it.
What TV show can you absolutely not miss?
I watch most shows On Demand or on Netflix now. I guess it would be How To Get Away With Murder and This Is Us—two very different shows. But, I’m a die-hard fan for Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Family Guy, and Unsung. I apologize, but I really can’t give one answer for those. I guess I haven’t been giving one answer for any of your questions, and you haven’t stopped me yet. So, thank you!
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
Zora Neale Hurston, she’s my favorite writer, and she marched to the beat of her own drum.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Her Own Beat
Now, on to your writing.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Probably in first or second grade. My mother still has my first story that I wrote on my own in second grade.
What inspires you to write?
The world around me.
What genre do you write and why?
I write for young adults, specifically for teens of color. I think this is a market that needs more books, and we need a variety of voices. Instead of being just a few, I want to become one of many.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
I’m somewhere in between. I’m trying to write on a daily schedule, even if it’s only 25 words. I want to make writing my full-time career, so I need to make it my priority.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I must have noise in the background. I can’t write in silence. It can be the TV (nothing deep…that’s where shows like Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers come in) or my music playing.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
Self-doubt. Wondering if your story is any good. You send it to friends and family to get feedback, but sometimes you wonder if they’re just being nice.
How do you select the names of your characters?
The main characters just come to me. They are generally based off strong people in history or my life. The secondary characters just flow. The rest I may have to use Scrivener’s name generator.
And just a bit more.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Hmm…it depends on the day. I’ve always liked panthers. When I was in sixth or seventh grade, I learned about the Black Panthers and I saw what a panther looked like. I thought they were regal. Other days, I want to be an eagle and just soar high above the skies. If you know me, you may think that answer is a bit biased because my college mascot is an eagle (American University) #EbonyEagles, and my favorite football team is the Philadelphia Eagles #FlyEaglesFly.
How do you think it will feel when you publish your book?
Can you tell us about your current projects?
My first full-length novel is called Mama. I was inspired to write this story because of #SayHerName and the lack of media attention for the kidnappings and deaths of black women and girls. Many times, we only find out about our missing girls and victims of police brutality through social media. In Mama, Zora’s mother seemingly will just become another statistic. Join Zora on her emotional journey for the truth about her mother. Will she be able to find justice for her mother, or will her mother just become another hashtag?
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read a variety of books and genres. Some of my favorite authors are Zora Neale Hurston, Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Junot Díaz.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Follow your passion now. Don’t wait until this happens, that happens, or (fill in the blank). There will always be something or someone to hold you back.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
Listen to your heart and don’t doubt yourself. You have been given a gift and a talent, and someone is waiting to hear your words.
What does literary success look like to you? I understand literary success is different for everyone. For me, I would like to be a best-selling author who can make writing a full-time career. More than the numbers, however, I want to inspire someone through my books. Although they are works of fiction, these are events that could happen. I want our teens and young adults to be motivated into action within their communities. I want them to see that diversity and equality do not have to be a fantasy. My writing is just one of the small ways that I can help inform and inspire a socially-conscious generation.
Thank you, Aronya, for letting us get to know you better. To learn more about Aronya, including when Mama is released, please visit her site at www.aronyawaller.com and don't forget to check out her blog at www.herownbeat.com.