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Even though she lives hundreds of miles away, when Langston, who dreams of being a chef, meets Cecile, a Juilliard-trained pianist, he is sure that his history of being a sidekick, instead of a love interest, is finally over. Their connection is real and full of potential for a deeper bond, but the obstacles between them turn out to be greater than distance. Can these busy, complicated people be ready for each other at the same time? Does it even matter? Before they can answer these questions, each must do battle with the ultimate demon—fear.


Told in a witty combination of standard prose, letters, emails, and diary entries, LETTING GO, in the tradition of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s AMERICANAH, is a long-distance love story that also examines race, religion, and the difficult choices we make following our passions. From the Great White North to the streets of New York City to the beaches of Bermuda, LETTING GO is a journey of longing, betrayal, self-discovery and hope you will never forget.




What initially got you interested in writing?


I’m an introvert, and writing was an easier way to express myself than speaking. I’m fine with speaking now—sometimes, I’m sure people wish I hadn’t become so comfortable with it!—but I think I still delve deeper in writing.


How did you decide to make the move into being a published author?


My first novel was published about 20 years ago. I wrote it on a whim while I was working on my Masters degree, having made the somewhat arrogant assessment that I could write as well as a lot of the authors I was reading. I sent a manuscript off to Ballantine and got a handwritten response from an editor who said her list was full, but that I might consider submitting to my eventual publisher, Kensington, because they were starting a line of books aimed at African American women. I wasn’t trying to write genre, but I was told that a few more spicy scenes would qualify my book as a romance, so I went for it.


My next novel had an important supporting character who was a gay man involved in a relationship, a no-no at the time. I didn’t want to cut him out of the story, and since my major was music anyway (I have a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from Juilliard), I chose to focus on being a pianist, and then, a mother.


I decided to try my hand at freelance writing in 2008, as a way to earn some extra money. Soon afterward, my mother gave me an idea for the novel that became my latest release, Letting Go. The rest is a long story, so I’ll cut to the chase and say that I decided to self-publish, having had a few close calls with both agents and publishers, to make my book available for sale at a concert (the theme was pieces that are mentioned in my novel). Since then, I’ve recorded the recital (Music from Letting Go), which included my solo piano performances and my readings of the parts of the novel that preface the musical tracks (I’m also a professional voice actor).

What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?


I want them to feel that they’ve been on an emotional journey, one that hopefully makes them think about themselves and others differently, or at least with a sense of familiarity. I also hope they’ll laugh.


What do you find most rewarding about writing?


It’s fun to create imaginary people whose every move is up to me. That said, sometimes my characters do things that I didn’t plan originally. I should also add that I feel deeply for them, even though I tend to put them through a lot.


What do you find most challenging about writing?


Finding time, first and foremost. After that, finding the right words. I’m a compulsive self-editor, so it’s very hard to step away and say something’s finished. For example, my responses have been edited at least three times, and I’m forcing myself to let it go at that.


What advice would you give to people want to enter the field?


First, keep striving to be the best writer possible. I advise reading a lot, hopefully with an analytical approach: I like that, but why? I don’t like that, but why not? There are many books on the craft, and I think writers should start there. Next, get discerning people to read your stuff and advise you. Listen to some advice, disregard some advice, and over time (hopefully) you’ll find your own voice.


After that, it’s all marketing, and I wish I were better at that aspect. There are lots of resources, however, especially now. The trick is finding time to absorb and distill the information. Ah…time. If only I had it in a bottle!


What ways can readers connect with you?


twitter: @MariaCorley








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