We had an amazing chance to sit down with Katchouscia Apollon, the gifted poet behind Shades of Me. Shades of me is an enlightening book of poetry and short stories that takes the reader on a journey through love, injustice, and faith in God. Katchousia shares with us how about her Amazon Best Selling new release in "Caribbean & Latin American Art History".
Tell us a little about yourself, your books, and its genre.
My name is Katchouscia Apollon. I was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. During childbirth, the doctor accidentally damaged the nerves on the side of my face resulting in a speech impediment. I grew up feeling very self-conscious and shy until I was introduced to poetry by a friend. Poetry gave me a voice and an outlet to express myself. I was able to put words on paper to describe my feelings about love, racial injustice, and my faith in God. Those are the poems that the reader will come across in my book of poetry entitled "Shades of Me."
Please tell us about your book. Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write this novel?
"Shades of Me" is a collection of poetry and short stories about love, injustice, and faith in God. They were written about 20 yrs ago while I was in college. During the time I was learning about our history: the Haitian Revolution, slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, etc and they impacted my poetry. References to 41 shots is about the killing of Amadou Diallo. Shades of Me is divided into three sections: My People, My Shades of Love, and My Faith. This book is truly a love letter to people of color.
What is the key theme or message in the book?
The theme of "Shades of Me" is that we all have shades or levels that make us who we are. It is possible to be a freedom fighter while still being a hopeless romantic and committed to your faith. One aspect of who you are does not cancel the other parts of what makes you whole. The overall message is that we are all overcomers and we all have a story to tell.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?
One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that it is okay to have fears and doubts. We all have things that we want to overcome. The important thing is to not allow your fear(s) to cripple you or stop you from achieving your dreams. I allowed fear or what people would say about me to stop me from writing/publishing a book for twenty years. If you have to, please "do it afraid." That is one of the lessons I've learned from Luvvie Ajayi Jones, a person I deeply admire.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
When I'm not writing my hubby and I love to go to Broadway plays and try the food at different restaurants or food truck festivals. Due to the pandemic I've been streaming shows, attending church(es) online, and listening to audiobooks/podcasts. My favorite podcasts are Jesus & Jollof, Ratchet and Respectable, and How Married Are You? Also, like to travel.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
It wasn't as hard as I once thought because I had a sister circle. One of my friends, Ludy Wooten, recently self-published a book as well and held my hand throughout the process. My sister circle rallied around me and gave me the encouragement and financial support I needed. The most surprising thing is the fact that I waited so long to share my love of the written word.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they?
My suggestion is to read a lot and perhaps join groups to be around other people who share your passions. In doing so you will get inspired and challenged to step outside of your comfort zone.
What books are currently on your to-read list?
I'm currently reading:
"It's Not All Downhill from Here" by Terry McMillan
"A Promised Land" by President Barack Obama
I'm, also, looking forward to Luvvie Ajayi Jones' upcoming book "Professional Troublemaker."
What are your future plans for writing? Can you give us any hints on your next work-in-progress?
So far I have been getting great feedback about the short stories that are in "Shades of Me" so I really would like to expand on them. I'm so grateful for the support that I have received so far, I really pray that I can continue sharing my gift, and broaden my audience. I still have a notebook filled with unpublished poetry so look out for that as well! Anything else you would like our readers to know?
I am a person who takes pride in my Haitian heritage, loves the Lord, and shares my gifts on paper. I want every reader to see themselves in my words regardless of where they come from. Everyone wants to feel seen and not feel alone. I hope that everyone finds a poem or short story that speaks to them and shares it with someone else.
Check this amazing collection out on www.kathyapollon.com and take on the challenges of inequality/societal norms and the different aspects and phases of love.