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Author Spotlight: Chyrel Jackson and Lyris D. Wallace

August 17, 2020

Hello everyone! Welcome to another author spotlight! These will be posts where I discuss and showcase, predominantly women and people of color, their writing talents, and published works. So without further ado let’s get on with this *special* Author Spotlight!

Meet the Authors!

Authors Mini Biography Chyrel J. Jackson and Lyris D. Wallace are avid lovers, readers and writers of African American Literature. They grew up in a Southern Suburb of Chicago, IL.

Country Club Hills. As young girls they read Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Judy Blume novels. College was the real scholastic awakening introducing these two Literary Enthusiasts to the Literary works of their great ancestors: Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez. These ladies write in the spirit of their ancestors. Writers are born when life intersects with time and chance.

What and when started your love for writing?

Chyrel

Trying to navigate life honestly. You write down what is sometimes difficult to say. College was a whole new and different life experience. You’re exposed to so much more. Your world opens up exposing you to way more than you were exposed to being away from your immediate surroundings. Within that scholastic context I met my literary hero James Baldwin and literally life as I knew it changed for me from that encounter.

Lyris

My love for writing didn’t start until I got into college. It started with my love for reading. You see, I grew up in a family who loved books. Both my mom and dad read everything they could get their hands on. My sister Chyrel was the same way. But when we were little we often had to share books, so we would read the books together.

 Chyrel, was always a better reader and a faster reader than I was, so she would finish a page a lot sooner than I would. It made me hate reading because finishing so long after Chyrel made feel like I wasn’t as smart as she was. In high school all we ever read was Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and people like that. I couldn’t relate to that nor did I want to.  

Amazon.com: Disappearing Acts (Audible Audio Edition): Terry ...

It wasn’t until my first year in college my sister Chyrel gave me the book Disappearing Acts, by Terry McMillan, and I almost lost my mind. It was truly the best book I’d ever read.  Because I hated reading so much, but loved that book, I took 4 different literature courses at the same time because I knew they would force me to read. It was the first time I’d taken a black literature class. I was enraptured. I couldn’t believe that all these wonderful black writers existed and they were actually writing about me. I fell in love with James Baldwin, Zora Neal Hurston, Wallace Thurman, and Mya Angelo. From there I knew I wanted, no, I had to be apart of it. Because of my black literature class I also learned to love, Emily Bronte, Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Alan Poe.

Of all of the book genres, what drew you to write about yours?

Chyrel: Poetry is a very brief snapshot to communicate your feelings. We my sister and I have been through a lot we journal those feelings and before we knew it. We were writing our life story in short abbreviated poems. Those words came together in our current work Different Sides of the Same Coin.

Lyris: Again, while I was in college, I heard the poem by Nikki Giovanni entitled Ego Tripping, and it literally blew my mind! I was never the same after I heard that poem. IT IS GENIUS!! It made me really bask in all that I am, being a woman, being black, being strong, just being me. Nikki really rocked my world with that poem and every time I hear or read that poem to this day I feel the exact same way. That poem makes me feel like Super Woman. I think you can tell her influence, especially in my poem “Why you hate me?” and “No Vacancies”.  

If you could meet your favorite author who would it be and why?

Chyrel:  I did, I met James Baldwin he was bigger than life. He was not only a literary giant but social injustice warrior. I want to be that commanding in my own life’s journey.

Equality Utah - LGBTQ Legacy: James Baldwin
Both Sisters have a love for James Baldwin

Lyris: As you can tell from my previous answer, Nikki Giovanni would definitely be at the top of the list, but I would also love to James Baldwin. He was such a regal and elegant man, who lived and felt the civil rights movement to his core. He was inspirational not only as a writer, but as a civil rights icon. Plus I just love to hear him speak. I just want to sit there and hear him talk.  

How does being Black or a woman impact what you write?

Chyrel:  It impacts how I see the world around me. As black people we are often as Ralph Ellison stated invisible. We write to tell the world we are here. We matter, you will see us. 

two black women or women of color

Lyris: In every way. I am both black and a woman. Most everyone writes from their experience, my experience is being a black woman, it’s what I know, it’s how I live and it’s where I get my inspiration and ideas.  

What makes your book writing special?

Different Sides of the Same Coin: A Collection of Poems: Jackson ...

Chyrel: Winnie it is special because so much of who we are is born out on the pages of what we have written. We lived and live what we write about. That has been the blessing and curse of our work. We lived every single word written within the pages of our story.

Lyris: I don’t know how special it is for anyone else, but it’s special to me because it is something that is shared with one of the most influential people in my life, my sister Chyrel. We have share many things in our life, and growing up hating something to now loving it all because my sister gave me a book she thought I would love, makes writing with her so much more than special. I thank God for my sister and giving us a chance to share with the world our love for reading and writing.  

So…what are you working on now?

Chyrel: I’m working on a second book of poetry entitled Reflections. I am also working on a self-help book The Summer of My Unfamiliar. It deals with walking away from anger and that which hurts you. You have to let it all go…..I am also, working on the mother of all fictional dramas If These Walls Could Talk. That’s the book of all books so excited about that project.

Lyris: We are working on a fictional book entitled “If These Walls Could Talk”.  We’re both really excited about this book, and hope that our readers will be excited enough to support and buy it, once it comes out.  

I loved working with this sister duo! And I think there bond and action to not only write a book, but to do one together, is applaudable. If you want to get in contact or connect with either sisters you can through:

Chyrel:

Lyris:


Thank you all for reading and remember:

Live. Love. Laugh.

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