1. Crimson Footprints by Shewanda PughTell us about your latest book.Crimson Footprints is the story of an insecure, bi-racial woman who begins a cloak-and-dagger love affair with a Japanese American man. She’s intent on keeping it from her bigoted family, albeit with devastating consequences. On the night of her brother’s murder, Deena Hammond stumbles upon Takumi Tanaka, lost and on the wrong end of a .32. After rescuing him from the certain fate driving through the hood in a Porsche will bring, a sweet kind of friendship begins. A balm for her grief.

    Maybe, Deena likes to think, it happened the day her white mother killed her black father. Or maybe, it was always a part of them, like DNA gone bad. Whatever the case, Deena knows that her family would never approve, hell, never acknowledge her fast-growing love for Takumi. So, their game begins. One where they hide what they are from everyone. Anyone. And Tak understands it for awhile. After all, Deena’s career hinges on the favor of her mentor and boss, his hard-ass of a father. And the Hammond family is already stretched thin with grief. Yet, each step Deena takes toward family and career brings her closer to an acceptance she’s never had. And away from him.

    2.  How did your main character come to you? I actually imagined Tak before Deena. Since he was a fully realized embodiment of my imagination, I began to think of the sort of girl he might want. Unique in appearance, independent, having blazed her own path. So, the earliest incarnation of Deena stemmed from Tak. From the rib of Adam is how I like to think of it. 

    3.   Why do you write?  Because I must! Isn’t that the cliched and true-to-life answer from every writer? Lodged away in the PC and cranial files of us all are dozens of stories that few will ever know about. Writing appears on the food pyramid for writers, wedged between meat and vegetables. Please don’t fact check that. 

    Shewanda Pugh4.   What was the most challenging part of writing this novel?  Getting it just right, especially when it came to Tak. I’m so conscious (and sensitive to) the stereotypes that minorities endure that I was meticulous in my research, checking, and cross checking with an almost-paranoia. I wanted him authentically Japanese American (whatever that means) and I wanted him to be his own man, certainly no one’s caricature. So, I researched JA culture extensively and embraced the things that seemed “most Tak.”

5.  Where do you write? Everywhere! When I’m pampering myself, I open the sliding glass door to my balcony and indulge in the occasional gusts of wind as I take in the Miami skyline. But I’m prone to stare. So, when I’m seriously working, I’m usually hunched over my laptop, in bed, no doubt giving myself some irreversible injury.

6.  Where do your ideas come from? The smallest spark often creates an avalanche. Crimson Footprints began when I spotted the epitome of urban fashion, complete with sagging pants, iPod, and tattoos, immersed in Poe at my local Barnes & Noble. Eventually, my like-minded Poe enthusiast became the inspiration for Tak. Other ideas tend to stem from my obsession with other cultures.

7.  What advice do you have for budding authors?  Remain persistent. The easiest thing to do is quit. It took Stephen King’s wife, Tabitha, to rescue Carrie from the trashcan, and my own husband had to rescue Crimson Footprints from the recycle bin at least once. Sometimes, there’s no one around except your own doubt—which surprisingly sounds just like you. Keep writing anyway.

8.  How difficult was the rewriting process?  Very. My novels seem to get fleshed out, various reincarnations, and somehow in the end, tend to resemble an earlier, dismissed version. Working on a better way.

9.  Which books (or authors) influenced you while growing up? The Stephen King reference was a dead give away. An earlier infatuation with him has given me a knack for bluntness both in writing and life. I also adore Amy Tan. Other great writers with a hand on my pen include Zora Neale Hurston and whoever wrote all those steamy little Harlequin books I was too young to read but did so nonetheless.

10.  What’s your favorite regional food? I’m a sucker for BBQ. I honestly consider myself a connoisseur of the cuisine and will walk into a joint (yes, only BBQ joints have exceptional fare) and decide whether or not it’s worthy of exploration. I’ve also been known to drive ridiculously long distances and cross state lines for BBQ deemed legendary.

11.  Tell us about where you live — we love to travel. I live in Miami! Shimmering sands, crashing waves, glamorous nightlife, I give a sample of it in Crimson Footprints. But you will have to visit for the full experience.

12.  What’s next in your writing life?

Crimson Footprints was originally released as an indie book, but after some success, it was picked up by Delphine Publications. Now in its second edition, it features a glimpse of the sequel, Crimson Footprints 2: New Beginnings. In my future is a 6 book series about the romance and family drama of an African American girl and Asian Indian guy, who grow up as neighbors and eventually fall in love. There’s also a novel in the works about a feisty black Southern girl who falls for a guy. Only, his family happens to host the biggest Secession Ball in the southeast each year. Watch the sparks fly in both!