Latise Howie: Black and White
To sit and talk with at with award winning author Latise M. Howie, you learn so much more about this multitalented sister. The creative mind behind The Chronicles: Elevator Silence, The Chronicles: Sidetracked and, The Chronicles: Highways, Intersections and Exits is also a mother of three amazing children, a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. To even say that her works are spiritually lead and engaging would be an understatement: for they allow the reader to truly look within, relate and emerge with a newfound understanding and connection to their lives. Our interview was simply more than just that, as it evolved into deeper discussions about relationships and the paths that one walk in today’s society.
So allow me to share with you some of our interview. And you would like to hear more, visit Urban Tymes YouTube page for the interview live and unscripted!
Latise, how are you?
Doing wonderful! Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited about it!
Well we definitely appreciate it because we hear so much about what you do and all the accolades. And it’s truly a blessing to hear such. One of the things we wanted to ask, it seems like you are redefining relationships through your writing. Share with us how our readers can gain that as well. What was your process?
The process for me, seriously, I had written a book twenty years ago when I was fresh out of college, in my twenties basically. It was about seven college students and how they interacted with each other and it was good reading, but it didn’t have life substance to it. And so for me, I didn’t want to put anything out, well I’m not going to say I didn’t want to put anything out, I just think that God understood, that you haven’t lived enough, and what I have for you is going to be a lot more to positively impact onto people than just writing something for somebody to read for entertainment. So with the Chronicles Trilogy it came about through a journey of celibacy…honestly. I was celibate for almost five years, and I had been in a situation where I’d been in relationships that were difficult ones, they were, quite, I won’t say tumultuous. I will say this, if it had not been for those two relationships there would not be a Chronicles Trilogy, and I say that all the time. And what happened for me in those relationships was every single time; God reminded me that at the end of the day you have to listen to Me. You have to allow Me to guide you, and I promise you, I know the desires of your heart, and I’ve got you!
So it was very important for me to just disconnect from that physical aspect of relationships, because I think that especially for women, we are emotional creatures. We intake literally, and that person believe it or not, becomes part of your spiritual being. You need to be very, very careful about who we enter into those types of relationships with. And each of the characters go through their own type of celibacy, whether it is by choice or by force. One of my couples is married lady going through a divorce, going through a really rough patch in her marriage, so she was into a forced type of celibacy. But during that time span they were able to reconnect with the spirit of God and figure out what it is that they are supposed to be doing.
When readers come and talk to you about what they’ve found within the pages of your writings, there’s a lot of joy, there’s a lot of acceptance, a lot of self-realization.
What do get from that, what do you take from that, being that you are the author that has in a sense orchestrated this?
From the beginning, I just wanted to be the vessel. Because I believe that some way we are all broken, and so I refer to myself as a “broken vessel” all the time. And sometime I will say “God, are you sure? I’ve got some stuff going on!” “Why would you want to use me in this way?” But when I was able to write this, because a lot of this stuff Carey I wrote about, I can tell you I’ve never been a drug addict. One of my characters is addicted to pain medication. Never been a drug addict, but I’ve been addicted to a man before, so I can kinda relate in that way. But God gave me this stuff and allowed me to write it in such a way like I had experienced it, and so when people come to me and say “how did you know I was going through this particular thing?” First of all, I’m always very, very humbled; I usually tear up a lot of the time because I know that this is such a GOD thing. It has absolutely nothing to do with Latise except that I was the vessel He chose to utilize to get the word out. I like when readers say to me “your stuff is so real, how you know about this particular thing?” or: “You talked to somebody that knew me!” I just want the work to help you navigate through real life situations.
There’s a chapter called Proverbs 4:23 and it is “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Before I started writing, I had no idea of Proverbs 4:23, didn’t know it was in the Bible, okay? I started writing this particular chapter about one of my characters Mari, she has a sex addiction, that’s her issue. She’s also a Baptist PK (Preacher’s Kid) her father is this Baptist preacher so she is entangled between the struggles with her spirituality, in her case…her religion, and her flesh. Until she really gets in tuned with her spirituality, she starts to understand how to break those particular chains. So Mari was not guarding her heart in any way, for anything. She was going to fetish houses she was involved in all these different things, but she thought as long as he was not engaging, she could still walk away and say “oh I’m celibate” “I didn’t participate, so I’m still ok.” But what she didn’t understand she was not guarding her heart, and if your heart is the wellspring of life, if that’s what God sees when He sees you, then guess what…everything that you are bringing into you through that mechanism is pumping throughout your entire being!
As a man, reading it (your books) what can I take away from it?
You can learn a whole lot about how we (women) actually think, especially in the first book. Because the first book is the introduction to the characters, the three main characters: Mari, Twyla and Fab. At first, when men read the book, they’re like “Oh you beat us up, you got us!” But I’m like “no,….” You have to understand that these women have these interactions, and you have to be introduced to them to understand how they begin to develop and grow. So in the second book, you’re able to really see the interactions with the male characters. You’ll even see that in the covers. Because on the second book cover, male characters are very present, right there, right along with the women. You get to see those men and how they interact with each other. That research was fabulous! Being able to call some of my male friends and say “ok, would you really say it like this?” “Tell me how you would actually think.” Being in the barbershop when I would have to take my son to get a haircut, they never really toned down their behavior in the barbershop, even if I was present. So I was able to depict the whole barbershop back and forth with the male characters. They learn a lot about being real with themselves and their spirituality, not being afraid to express that. To pray for one another, bring each other to Christ, because to me that’s so important. My male characters attend church, the pray with one another, they pray for each other. Now I have some that are wayward…I have one that is Mari’s counterpart. He’s a terrible sex addict, but he’s also an armor bearer in the church. He has these high positions and everybody respects him, but he didn’t want to get married, and come to find out later he was in a separated situation, so that’s why he could marry her (Mari). He had all these secrets that he was hiding behind the mask of the church. So again, you’re religious, but you’re not spiritual, you haven’t connected to God in a real spiritual way. That’s very intimate, and very different for all of us, you know what I mean?
At the end of the day, my male readers will learn that yes we are complex creatures, but we are also really, really simple. Consistency is huge for us, and that’s a theme throughout the books. We just want to know and trust and believe what you say, and we want to feel safe with you. And if you are that man, we will go live with you in a cardboard box under a bridge because we trust you in that way. But they (men) also open with being ok to be emotional. Allowing yourself to be ok with being spiritual and connecting with other brothers in that way. You’ll learn that women really do want someone to be the head, we’re ok with that…but we’re not going to follow foolishness.
With all that being said, the work that you’ve put into the books, research that you’ve done, the mentorships, could we see you not just a book tour, but more of a tour speaking, reaching out to men and women encouraging and lifting them up spiritually in the next several years?
Absolutely! You know I think that’s where all this is going honestly. Things are just lining up in such a way, and I don’t know if I ever saw that, but I did something called The Livingroom Chronicles this past year where we discussed topics about the books, topics in the books, but we went on further into talking about forgiveness. The third book has a lot of stuff in there that the characters find out that the family members have been keeping secrets. They had to forgive, and it posed a question: do we really forgive? Can we forget what has happened? And how do we navigate in unforgiveness? One of the most powerful things I ever had happened to me, we was in the last Livingroom Chronicles and we were at BluNotes in the Blue Room, and Susan Flowers just happened to come that day. We had people stand up and start talking about the things they had gone through in their lives: molestation, rape…this one guy, his mother had been abducted that week. He was like, “how am I going to forgive this person, who has done this to my mother?” It was mind blowing….we prayed. I mean, we are in a secular environment, and God moved, even in that place. That’s how I know that everything that I have written in there…. God can move in a mosque, God can move in a lounge, He can move anywhere! You just got to be open to hearing the still small voice and making sure you stay in tuned with it. Doing The Livingroom Chronicles, it really kinda opened up a door to show me that people listen to me for one, and I think that’s something that I’ve known all my life. I’ve never been afraid to speak or be in front of people, and I also knew that it’s a power you use for good or evil.
Latise’s talent and work is held together by a common thread, she is an instrument to His will and He gifts it all. To sit and talk to this dynamic sister of faith and fellow artist, allowed a chance to gain a deeper insight of her literary world. Truly inspirational!