Sunday, April 1, 2012

Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon

I'd like to say, "No introduction necessary." Like a Micheal Jackson album or D'Angelo's 90's hit, "Brown Sugar," some books get better with time, just like music. All you need to do is simply put the book in your hand, and like pressing play on a boom box or placing the needle on the vinyl, all the emotions, memories, and deeply felt lyrics or characters drift back into your mental space making you have to stop what you're doing, put a big smile on your face and say, "that's my song!" or in this case, "this book is the bomb!"

Such is the case with Kalisha Buckhanon's debut novel, Upstate. This novel is euphoric, timeless, elegant, masterfully written, ingeniously delivered, iconicly remembered, literally A-MAZ-ING. If I had to sum it up in one phrase, I would simply call it, "the real deal."

Upstate tells the story of two teenage lovers, Antonio and Natasha who struggle to keep their love alive, their lives connected and their dreams and truths in front of them. Told exclusively through letters, readers experience the test and triumphs as they confront Antonio's jail sentence and Natasha's press to attend college and fulfill her dreams. Through communications that span across ten years, readers are emotionally drawn into a bittersweet love story that will fill your heart with hope and touch you in a place where you will always remember. Upstate is a classic that is sure to remain highly sought after in bookstores, library shelves and teacher's classrooms because like so many teen readers, you just can't get enough. Kalisha shared her thoughts with us below.

1. What inspired you to write Upstate?
My inspiration was pure. I didn't really have any particular agenda. I was 25 years old. Living in Harlem focused on graduating with my Masters Degree in Creative Writing. It was a beautiful time in my life. I was optimistic and in a good space and I fell in love with the story. It became my first love. It was all consuming where I couldn't wait to get home and write.

2. Will there be a sequel to Upstate?
Not right now. I am comfortable leaving it the way it is. Upstate was written during a different time in my life. I can't go back and get that chemistry so I am comfortable to let it stand on its own for now.

3. Do any of your characters mirror real people you know or come from situations you've been through?
Not really. My characters are a recipe of different ideas, people and my imagination.

4. Who or What inspires you?
I feel as if I was called by God to be a writer and what motivates me are the black writers who came before me. I am also motivated to write stories that portray proper and informed images of black people.

5. What is the message you want readers to remember?
I want readers to remember to have fun and be entertained.

6. What is your greatest writing accomplishment?
My greatest writing accomplishment thus far has been writing my second novel Conception. It was a brave subject to write about and challenged me to grapple with the past and get into history. Plus, I love the language. Conception is an artistic prize that I never thought I'd be able to write.

7. What are your hobbies? Are you at all into music, reality TV?
I love to shop. And of course, I love reality TV. But overall, I am pretty much a routine person. I go for walks, work out at the gym, go to Wal-mart, watch things on Youtube, listen to music and do normal things.

8. What advice would you give to teen readers?
Be smart financially. Find a mentor. I'd also like to say that there is nothing wrong with being simple or nerdy, geekish, bookish or being a good person. Messages you are hearing or seeing may be contrary, but be yourself. Stay on the straight and narrow and don't be ashamed. Seize the day and take full advantage of life. Keep your senses delighted and be original.

9. How can readers stay connected with you?
Via my website: I am also on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace.

10. Do you have any current projects we can look out for?
Yes. I am writing a new book that I can't talk much about at this time. I am going to use the summer to bring it together. You should hear more about it soon.

Kalisha Buckhanon is also author of Conception. In the same vein as what she's sold us on before, Conception delivers a story that will inspire you rise about any circumstance you may be facing. I'm going to stop before I hit rewind or in this case, turn the pages back to the beginning and get lifted on this natural high all over again. In closing, I will say this; Elle magazine said it best when they reviewed Upstate and called it "....a poetry uniquely it's own." It rises to the occasion and performs in genius fashion. What else is there to say.....Lights off, drop the mic and exit stage left.----

P.S- Happy Birthday Kalisha :) April 1

No comments:

Post a Comment