Shatina Brown produces family-centered, reality-based novels featuring African American families in positive ways that challenge the status quo. Shatina’s writing aims to bring a feel-good experience to readers while sharing wealth-building and uplifting resources to help inspire her community. She was recognized for her community service when she received the NYC citation from Christine Quinn for Outstanding Citizen in 2013.
I am a mom of 3 children, born and raised in NYC. I raised my children in Harlem where I lived for 20 yrs, then moved to Bergen County NJ in 2018. That year was a tough year for me; I lost my mom, got divorced, then relocated to another state into a new home. I also published my book that year. I couldn’t really appreciate my publishing debut because of all the things I was dealing with, but because my mom was so proud of me writing, I knew I had to push through and share my story with everyone. I currently work for the City of NY helping families with financial hardships. I also started my publishing company so that I can assist other writers through their journey and help them reach their publishing goals.
The title of my book is called HERBIE: Puppy Love with Big Dog Rules. In this book, Herbie’s mom begins to date a man after his dad’s untimely death. He loved his life with his mom and annoying little sister, anyone else just was in the way. Although he was focused on finding a girlfriend and having his first kiss, he couldn’t stop thinking how much he despised his mom moving on and allowing another man to grab her attention. This book shows the feelings of this one particular kid that dealt with his mom dating. A life-changing moment that happens often with families, but the conversation doesn’t always take place and children aren’t always heard or considered when new people come into their lives.
3.) What was the inspiration for this book?
The book was inspired by my own children. When they were growing up, I was very selective about their reading materials. Noticing most of the books consist of witches, warlocks, magic, demons, sex, and murder, I began to search for books that did not have any of these topics. Unfortunately, the pickings were very slim. I also knew I couldn’t have been the only parent who felt that way, so I decided to finally put one of my many stories into a book. I wanted to make sure Black families were shown in a positive light, and remind people we didn’t all grow up living in the back slums with pimps, drug dealers, and gangs. We had great families with outstanding morals. I wanted families to talk about things such as dating and growing up without feeling ashamed of their changes. My mission was to get families to talk and allow their children to open up without feeling guilty of acting “grown”, which was something many children in my time were accused of, therefore making it hard to express themselves.
I had the ability to make people laugh. I have a great sense of humor and love to laugh, but some days I tell a story and it’s the way I’m telling it that makes people laugh. I realized I was able to do it with my writing as well. I didn’t start off with the book being humorous. I actually wanted the book to be more serious so families could really talk about important topics. Although the important things are written in the book, the delivery was just funny. I was able to make people feel good when they read the book, so it made me feel really happy that I was able to do that for them.
My favorite part of HERBIE was when his aunt came to visit. I have an aunt that I based the character on and it fit the story perfectly. Herbie’s aunt has a little dog that she treats as a child and reminds everyone around her that her dog comes first. Herbie tries to use her to get something he wants, however it backfires on him. His mom doesn’t get upset; she sits and enjoys that the aunt put Herbie in his place, even if she does it in an accidental humorous way.
It’s a feel-good, coming-of-age story.
8.) Why did you choose to self-publish your novel?
I chose to self-publish because I wanted my story to be told in my words. When shopping around for publishers and agents, I was told immediately my book will be edited and some things may be changed. This was before they opened the pages. I was also told my cover needed to be changed because it looks like it’s promoting teenage pregnancy even though it shows 4 tiny shoes that could only fit a dog. I wanted the freedom to put my book in the hands of people that would appreciate the story I was sharing. I also have the opportunity to help others with their journey and provide services to assist them on their self-publishing journeys.
Audra Russell is a blogger, freelance writer, and published author. She holds two undergraduate degrees in journalism as well as a Master of Science degree in Education. She also completed the Wesleyan University online Creative Writing Specialization course series.
She is an avid reader and writer’s advocate. Her passion for promoting the works of up-and-coming authors inspired her to create her podcast, Between the Reads, as well as her website, Read It Black to Me. Her debut novel, BLOOD LAND, was published on August 29, 2020, as her fiftieth birthday gift to herself. She lives in Maryland with her husband of more than 20 years, her 3 amazing children, a 12-year-old perpetual puppy, two dueling cats, and her lone surviving chicken of 8 years who she affectionately renamed Gloria (she will survive!)