Award-winning author Kellye Garrett grew up with a passion for fiction.
“Since I was five years old, I’ve known I wanted to be a writer,” she admitted in an interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel. “I was lucky in that mom was a big reader, so I definitely got that from her. As I got older, she gave me free reign over bookshelves. This was in the 90s, so I got to read some really amazing authors. People like Terry McMillian, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Walter Mosley were blowing up, so I was really lucky because it taught me that representation matters.”
Garrett is the author of three novels—her “Detective by Day” Series, and then her most recent novel, “Like A Sister.” A twisty, voice-driven thriller novel, “Like A Sister” follows a dead Black Reality TV Star’s half-estranged sister who refuses to believe the official story of her death and seeks to find out the dangerous truth.
“[Like A Sister] came from an actual New York Daily headline. The opening of the book says I found out my sister died from the New York Daily News, and I think the actual headline was something, like, pregnant, former reality star found dead in Bronx,” Garrett told the LA Sentinel.
“The woman in me thought oh, that’s terrible way to pass away, but I also thought the headline was very hurtful because it was a Black woman, like they wouldn’t be doing that for a Kardashian. But the writer in me was like Oh that’s a good mystery. How did this glamorous reality star go from partying up in Downtown Manhattan to dying alone on a street corner in the Bronx? And then one day said, Oh she was going to see her estranged sister, and never made it.
She continued, “So that’s where the book came from—it’s from the POV of her estranged Sister [Lena]. She hadn’t talked to her sister in two years but knows that she was coming to see her at five in the morning, didn’t make it, and wants to know what happened.”
Within all of Garrett’s novels she incorporates different depictions of Black women, something the author said is not intentional, but just a part of her writing about Black people. Her main character, Lena, is a woman described as the strong one who laughs rather than cries, and always gets her tasks done.
The main character of “Like A Sister”, Lena, is a woman described as the strong one who laughs rather than cries, and always gets her tasks done.
In describing the making of Lena’s character, Garret shared that, “I think with a lot of Black people, we have to have a sense of humor because of our history. We can almost always make a joke about anything, and it’d be funny, so I wanted that to kind of have that in a character. Usually, [in the domestic suspense genre] you see things like “Gone Girl, which is about like some white woman who’s married and living in the suburbs and is lying about something. So, as a Black woman, living in the city, I couldn’t identify with that.”
“I wanted to see someone who looks like me, like my family, on those pages,” Kellye Garret continued, “but I also knew that because it was a Black woman, she would not get the same grace and sympathy that she’d get. So, I wanted to talk about that, too—like, the strong Black woman cape that she uses as a cape, and that she uses as a shield. And that she needs to be more vulnerable.”
It being National Women’s Month and Garret being a Black female author, when asked if Garrett is intentional about the way she portrays her female characters, she shared that “sometimes you have to be, we have to talk about race a lot.”
“There are a lot of things we have to write about,” said Garret. “I feel like often, other races want us to breed our work, which makes me sad because I think we should be able to have all types of stories,” she expressed.
“We should be able to have a really good books and literature, like Toni Morrison. We should be able to have really bad books, too, you know? Or books that are just fun. I think what I want is for Black people, especially Black women, to write whatever they want. I don’t think we’re at that point, but I really hope that one day we are.”
Within all of Garrett’s novels she incorporates different depictions of Black women, something the author said is not intentional, but just a part of her writing about Black people.
“I just wanted to write about awesome Black women because that’s how Black women are—we’re so diverse and different.”
Being a Black woman or man in the publishing industry is not an easy aspiration. Black authors often face a lot of pushback when trying to tell the stories of Black people; their passions being the only thing that keeps them going. ‘
With this, Garret’s advice to other young black women, trying to tell write and tell Black stories is that “it can be painful sometimes, but keep going…keep writing every day, every week, and you’ll have a finished book.”
“Somedays, I tell myself I keep going because I’m not good at anything else,” the author joked. “I just love writing—I hate writing, but I love having written. I love the creative process, and that’s what keeps me going. I keep doing it because it’s what I love. I always go back to that five-year-old girl. This is what she wants.”
Kellye Garrett’s books are sold everywhere books are sold. For more information on the author, visit https://kellyegarrett.com. Also check out her Instagram (@kellyekell).