Saturday, June 3, 2023

The Stranger He Knew by Debbie Stokes




Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. My family, faith, and writing are extremely important to me.

From a young age, writing has been my refuge. Being an extremely shy person who was afraid to talk in front of people or to speak up for myself, I found my voice through writing. The pen became my voice and my strength.

Later in life, I made the decision to follow my dream of being a published author of a fiction novel, despite my shyness, so I went for it. As my passion for writing increased, so did my imagination. I will always share with people how my story ideas come to me in my dreams and how I will jump up to write them down.

For most of my life, fear has stood in my way. Finally, I pushed past my fear and allowed my vision to come to past. I'm now a published author and, The Stranger He Knew, is my first book. Yay!!

Since I loved to write so much, I had previously started a women's empowerment blog on a previous website called, 3 Women Voices, where I shared empowering stories of how people overcame odds to live their best lives in both written and video interview formats. In addition, I have been a contributing writer for FEMI Magazine, a cultural lifestyle magazine where I interviewed and shared people’s lifestyle stories.

When I'm not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family, and singing and dancing; although, I can't do either... LOL. I do it for the enjoyment. I think we all should do what makes us happy; and singing, dancing, and writing does that for me.


What inspired you to author this book?

Actually, this book was inspired by a dream that I had. The dream was so vivid that it made me jump out of bed and write the gist of the story down. Once I woke up for the morning, I couldn't let the story go.

At that point, the characters and a description of the story came to me. Once I put pen to paper, the words began to flow. And it was like music to my ears. I had no choice, this was my passion tugging at my heart and knocking at my door. So, I asked myself, if not now, then when?


And strangely, the moment I asked that question, an AD appeared in front of my eyes a few days later. Starting pay $100 to write a book in 90 days. If you wrote the book in 90 days, you would get your $100 back. That was my confirmation to go all in, and I did. Needless to say, I wrote the book and received my $100 back. That was in 2018.

Of course, life's distractions got in the way, but I'm a firm believer that if you don't quit on that thing you want in life, it won't quit on you. And I also believe everything happens at the right time in our lives. So, I held tight to that dream. Although I took breaks, I didn't let the dream go. And here I am 5 years later. Now, a published author.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?

Well, I saw in my mind how strangers we know present themselves to each of us every day. Then, I imagined that person being in a thriller-type story.

So, in my mind, the person would appear warm and friendly but move in calculated ways. So, I wanted the cover to be dark with colors that popped. And I wanted my protagonist, David, to be unsuspecting... like a lot of us are.

The light signifies how although there is light in our lives, sometimes it's not clear, so we may miss the truth or what's real. And it's the cloudiness between light and dark that creates the chaos we encounter in our relationships. Thereby, introducing us to the strangers we know.


Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?

My mother has been the most significant influence on me because she made me believe that I was just as smart, beautiful, and capable as anyone. And to never shrink myself, deny myself, or give up on myself because I deserve whatever it is I want in life. She made me believe I could do or be anything as long as I believed it and put it the work. There was a time when I would rip myself apart from head to toe, believing I wasn't pretty enough, even though other people would always compliment me about my looks daily. In my mind, I convinced myself they were lying to me. Until one day, my mom say me down and made me realize that I was just as pretty as anyone else on the inside and out. She really empowered me before empowerment was a big thing, like these days. And I started to believe. My whole attitude changed.

My mom was special like that; she had the unique ability to lift me up to the point where I felt like I was on top of the world and could do anything. I'm so thankful for her.

And Truthfully, Tyler Perry influenced me to take my writing seriously and to the next level. I remember going to see his stageplay called, I Can Do Bad All by Myself,, and it changed my mind and opened my eyes to my possibilities.

It had me saying, "I can do that." And immediately after the play, I went home, it was like God said get out a paper and pen, and so I did. I wrote an entire play just like that. I always say it's the play that was inspired by Tyler Perry and touched by God. Sadly, it's just sitting in my archives ever since then.


What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

The obstacles I faced were life distractions and issues. I started the women's empowerment blog, which took up a lot of my time. Then, I started writing for FEMI Magazine thinking it was going to be part-time, but it turned out to be overwhelming time-wise. It didn't allow me to do anything else. So, although I loved both, I made the decision to walk away from those things to pursue my dream.

I realized that I had to put myself and my dream first if being a published author was ever going to happen. And here I am now... published.


Tell your readers about your book.

My book is a thrilling capture of the human spirit when a man is tested, and he has to fight for his life and everything he believes in. Here is the description:

What if you woke up one morning and everything you had was gone?

David Wellington’s life is fabulous. He has it all: a beautiful home, prestige, power, and friends. His dream job as a high-powered exec at an investment company has allowed him to build a comfortable lifestyle for himself and his family.

Then, one day, it all changed.

After working diligently at the company for 20 years, David is called into his boss’s office. He is sure he will be getting a big promotion, but instead, he hears the shocking words… YOU’RE FIRED!

As time goes on, he is forced to fight for his life, and a shocking betrayal and dark secrets cause him to spiral dangerously out of control.

How will he find the will to fight when everything he loves is gone?

Who can he trust?

Dive into this captivating fiction thriller book full of conflict, revenge, love, and redemption as it takes you on a roller coaster ride of surprising twists and turns that will have you on the edge of your seat.


Who is your target audience, and why?

I think so many different categories of people will enjoy my book, and they will be able to relate to the subjects within it.

But for the sake of picking a target audience, I would say it's for working women and men who are married, divorced, or single with kids. And they would be between the ages of 38-65.

But again, it's a book that a lot of different people of different ages would enjoy.


What do you consider your greatest success in life?

Well, that's a hard question because I could say that becoming a mother of two daughters is the greatest success, or being married to my high school sweetheart for 34 years and we're still together for a total of 45 years is the greatest success.

I could also say that being a successful beauty salon owner is the greatest success.

Then, I could say that finishing my book and becoming a published author is my greatest success.

With that being said, how can I choose between them? They are all important and epic in their own right. So, it all depends on what perspective you're talking about.

So, for this question, I prefer to say each of these successes has greatly enriched my life, growth, and experiences, and added to my happiness. Therefore, I'm grateful for all of them.


What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?

I think one unique thing that sets me apart is that I am a woman writing from a man's perspective. To take it further, I am a black woman writing about a white man's story.

I think that in itself is unique. And the truth is, as I said, this story came to me in my dream. So, to stay true to the dream and not waiver, I went full speed ahead with writing it. I let my instincts lead me. And I know in my heart it is endorsed by God.