An Interview with A. M. Kusi, Author of Defying Gravity
Books by A. M. Kusi
Shattered Cove Series
Orchard Inn Romance Series
Interview with A. M. Kusi
Book Cave: Let’s start off with the question I am most curious about. When and why did you decide to become authors, and how did you come to form this author team?
A. M. Kusi: Ash has been writing stories since childhood as a form of escapism from a traumatic childhood. A few years after we got married, we started blogging about marriage and relationships and writing non-fiction books. One day Ash got a story stuck in her head; she explained it to me (Marcus) and wrote out the first two chapters. I was surprised at her writing and the storyline and excited to see where we could take this. I knew her dream was to become an author of fiction and I wanted to help make that happen for her. I am so grateful to be on this journey with her as my teammate and partner in all things in life and business.
Book Cave: That is awesome. How is writing with your spouse? What does the writing process look like for you two?
A. M. Kusi: It can be frustrating at times. Usually plotting is where we butt heads the most. I (Ash) come up with the story ideas in my head, and Marcus does a lot of research. He has a very analytical brain, so it helps balance me out. He adds a lot to the plotting process. We have a system we follow, including the Story Grid method.
After we flesh out the plotting idea, I will create what we call a Chapter Map. We plot out every chapter, and the main things I need to achieve in that chapter for the characters, storyline, emotions, etc. He goes over that and tweaks it. Once that’s done, we put our plot through the Story Grid method, making sure it hits all the readers expectations and noting the hero and heroine’s wants versus needs, the theme of the story, etc.
Then it’s off to writing. I write each chapter, and then I print it off for Marcus to read and critique. Again, this is where his analytical brain comes in useful. We compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Book Cave: That’s a great system. And effective too-you’ve been writing for about 2 years and already have 8 books released, with more on the way. How do you work it all in?
A. M. Kusi: Planning and schedules! We work from home with our other online businesses and homeschool/unschool our two daughters, so nothing would get done if we didn’t schedule it out.
We also plan our year out by November or December the previous year. Editing dates, story ideas, as much as we can, so we can organize our work around our lifestyle. Balancing work life and family time is important to us.
Book Cave: You sound incredibly busy! So what is a typical day like for each of you?
A. M. Kusi: Typically Marcus gets up in the morning and works for a couple hours before I (Ash) get up. He feeds our kids, and does all the backend work of publishing, marketing, you name it.
After I get up, we switch off and I write for 3–4 hours while he’s with our kids. When I’m done, we check in and it’s my turn to parent while he goes back to the office. 4 days a week I write, and 1 day a week I work on blog posts, graphics, or interviews like this one.
Book Cave: What about when you’re not writing? What do you like to do for fun?
A. M. Kusi: I (Ash) read! And I bake or cook a lot. My daughters and I have several food allergies, so I have to cook almost everything from scratch. I’m cooking and/or baking every single day. I do enjoy it (mostly). Reading is my favorite thing to do though.
I (Marcus) am a huge soccer fan. I haven’t watched that much lately, so you’ll usually find me playing Barbies with my daughters or watching a documentary.
Book Cave: Playing Barbies with your daughters sounds like a lot of fun, haha! And I (and probably all our readers) can definitely identify with loving to read. So, back to the writing process. Do you ever get writer’s block?
A. M. Kusi: Yes. When I (Ash) do, it’s usually because I’m too stressed or pushing myself too hard. If I’m not feeling the words, I may take the day off and read something that fuels my soul and inspires me.
Sometimes I push through it and just get the words on the page, with the understanding that it’s just the first draft, I’ll come back to it and make it better. But plotting helps me stave off the block because all the big decisions are already made, I just have to make them happen on paper. Which is easier said than done some days. Self-care is a big part of writing.
Book Cave: That is wonderful advice for the writers that are reading this. What book are you working on now?
A. M. Kusi: We are editing His True North, our first marriage story. It was by far the hardest to write and frustrating, but the end result is pretty amazing. It is one roller coaster of a ride. Our heroine is pregnant with their first child when our hero is in an accident that steals his memory. He’s a 33-year-old married man who wakes up thinking he’s still 17 and dating another girl. You can imagine how that would be complicated in itself, but add on the fact that he’s a veteran and suffers PTSD, and someone is out to hurt our heroine and you’ve got an edge-of-your-seat story.
We are also currently writing the next book in the Shattered Cove series, book 6. This is Emma and her sort-of step-brother Link’s story.
Our romance novels always feature interracial couples, and we try to represent more cultures. Our hero, Link, is Ghanaian like Marcus. And each of our books in this series focuses on different types of trauma and/or relevant social issues. Our common theme is the past doesn’t have to define your future. And always, always give the reader hope for a better future.
Book Cave: His True North sounds exciting-I can’t wait to read it. I love that your Shattered Cove series contains deeper issues that get readers thinking. They’ve all been well-received by readers. And speaking of that, what has been the most awesome reader comment or review you’ve received?
A. M. Kusi: A reader referred to our book, Defying Gravity, as a “literary standout that deserves to be read.”
Several readers and bloggers named Defying Gravity as their number one read of not only 2020, but in the last five years. To see reviewers tell how Defying Gravity sucked them into a story ripped from the headlines of 2020, dealing with issues of racism and police brutality, and made them laugh and cry and change the way they look at the world around them while lighting a fire under them to do better.
Creating change is why we wrote that book, and to see it touching so many people so deeply is more than we could have ever asked for.
Book Cave: Your book is changing lives! That is really touching.
Okay, let’s play make believe for a moment. Say you were stranded on a tropical island and could only bring four things? What would you choose?
M. Kusi: A lighter, a Berky water filter, a book about the native plants and uses, and writing supplies. (That counts as 1, right?)
Book Cave: Haha! Okay, I’ll allow it. Alright, another fun question: can you tell us something that you have NEVER done but you think most people have done?
A. M. Kusi: I’ll (Ash) take this one. Take your pick, never had a prom or graduation. Yep, that’s right, I was homeschooled. I actually dropped out just before my 16th birthday and opted for my GED. I have completed 3 years of college though, but never finished.
Book Cave: Wow! That is an impressive answer. Okay, final question! If you had one piece of advice to give a stranger on the street, what would it be?
Ash: “ You deserve to be happy.” I think so many people, especially mothers, put everyone else’s needs above their own. Or, they accept second or third best from the partner’s in their life, settling for the low standards society sets on men and fathers. Demand better, ladies!
Marcus: “Believe in yourself.” I think being confident and trusting yourself is essential to succeed in every endeavor one pursues.
Thank you for taking the time to tell us about yourselves and your books!
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Originally published at https://mybookcave.com on January 27, 2021.