Hello guys, Welcome to Nerdy Bookarazzi!!! I hope you are all doing nothing short of amazing. I’m so happy to meet you all with another awesome Author Interview after a long time. I’m very excited about this interview because I’m going to do this author interview with one of my favorite authors whose work completely swept me off my feet.
I have Sharina Harris with me today. If you are new here, I’ll tell you who Sharina Harris is, she is my favorite and I’m a very big fan of her book Judge’s Girl and I have talked about this amazing book so many times and I know I will never get tired of this. I’m so very excited to have her here, I love her so much and her writing style is very distinct and unique, and if you let me I will talk about her, all day and night. Okay so before inviting her into the session, let me give a quick introduction about the author.
Sharina Harris is the author of wonderful books like (Im)Perfectly Happy, Judge’s Girls and many more. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgia State University. After college, she pursued a career in digital marketing and public relations. Although her profession required writing, she decided to pursue a career in writing in 2012.
Sharina’s contemporary romance series under the pen name, Rina Gray, was named Book Riot’s 100 Must‑Read Romantic Comedies. When Sharina’s not writing, she can be found with her head stuck in a book, rooting for her favorite NBA teams, and spending time with friends and family. Sharina resides in Atlanta with her husband and son. And that’s pretty much about Sharina and we will get to know a little bit more about her and her books with this interview.
Hey Sharina, Welcome to this Author Interview session. Thank you so much for taking time to do this interview with me. I’m really happy to have you here in Nerdy Bookarazzi and this is the most happiest day of my life, I get to talk with the author whose book affected me so much and brought about a good impact on me. I cannot wait to talk about my favorite book, Judge’s Girls with you. I hope you will enjoy this session as much as I do. So let’s get into the session without further ado.
So first of all, tell us how did it all started ? What is the starting point to your writing journey ?
I’ve always been interested in writing since a child. I totally forgot about this but I wrote my first book around 12 years old. Then, of course I felt like having a career in writing would be impractical, so I left my dream behind. Years later in my twenties, I was laid off from a job and something inside of me said to take this time to write a book and I did just that!
What inspired you to write Judge’s Girls ? What is the genesis of this book ?
For my book ideas I tend to have multiple points of inspiration. For Judge’s Girls, my first point of inspiration was my own mixed family. I have an Asian stepmother, whom I adore, 2 stepsisters and a half-brother who is Asian and black. So, I had a ‘what-if’ moment. What if we didn’t get along? My second point of inspiration is my experiences as a Black woman in corporate America, so Maya’s experience at work is channeled with some of my experiences or my friend and family’s experience in that we must work twice as hard to get ahead.
How long did it took for you to complete Judge’s Girls and what was the most challenging part in writing it ?
This book came easily to me. That is not the case for most of my books, LOL. But it really flowed. As far as drafting the book it took about four months, but this does not include time with the publisher in developmental and copy edits, etc. The most challenging part was writing in the POV of Jeanie. She is so unlike me. I had to really step into her headspace and shoes to make sure I was writing a three- dimensional, flawed character.
What kind of changes did you want your readers to bring about in their life after reading Judge’s Girls ? And do you think it is been successfully accomplished ?
I would say stepping into someone else’s shoes. For Maya I want people to understand the struggles of Black women in corporate America and the expectation for us to mask our feelings in order to be ‘strong.’ I want Black women and women of color who are typically the backbone in society and/or families to feel that it is okay to rely on others. For non-people of color, I want them to understand culture differences and potential harm of biases and stereotypes. I want everyone no mater their race, sexual identity, etc. so listen and communicate with each other. To not make assumptions and have an open heart that is willing to learn.
I love every character and every single word written on the book but my top most favorites would be Maya and Roland. How did you pen them both ? Maya was an inspiration to me and Roland Hill is my Book Boyfriend. �� They both literally captivated me the most. I kept on thinking about them and re-reading their parts. How ? How did you cast this spell over me ? What are the key things that you have in your mind when you pen down your characters ?
LOL. Well thank you for the compliment! I am a romance writer so I really enjoyed the romantic elements of this book. For Roland, I knew I had to write a guy for Maya who would challenge her intellectually and emotionally. I needed a man who would not allow her issues to push him away. Though she ended up realizing her mistakes, knowing Roland he would’ve made his way back to Maya. But conversely, I think it was important for Maya to confess her feelings for Roland and to make him feel important and loved.
You have written about so many things in this one single book. You have spoken about feminism, you have spoken about life of Black Americans, how difficult it is for a black woman to escalate in her career rapidly, the judgmental looks people give when you marry someone out of your race or culture, you’ve spoken about alcoholism and oh my god! I think you have covered almost all the key issues. And the best part is you told everything so very clearly. How did you just do that ? I’m still in shock because I haven’t read a book which talks about so many issues in one single book that too so very clearly and effectively. What is your secret ?
Thank you again for the compliments! � Life is layered. And in my life, I’ve seen people struggle with alcoholism. I’ve seen interracial relationships with my father and stepmother and have experience the ‘looks’ when we travel together. I’ve experienced sexism and racism and have seen how they can impact careers. In my job as a leader, I’ve tried to combat that. All of that to say, I was able to write it because that is what I’ve seen and experienced, therefore it’s not hard for me to pull it all together.
Okay so this question is from my friend (Petricieyah) to whom I suggested Judge’s Girls and she loves it as much as I do. When I told her I was going to interview you, she got really excited and came up with this question. “Do people really feel the presence of the people who are dead ? Do you have any experience behind that part of the book or is it just imaginary ?” I guess, nobody would’ve asked you this question 😛 my friend is just weird 😀
I love this question! LOL. Fun fact, just for you and your friend, I’d plan to write in the POV of the character Judge Joe as he looks on to see the impact of his choices and death has been on his family (like the book, The Lovely Bones) but my editor said no, that’s too southern gothic as opposed to women’s fiction. Now in that case, I have not had an experience like that. However, I’ve had friends and family who’ve told me multiple stories about encounters. Nothing scary but just an affirmation that their ancestors or family members are there for them. I think its quite comforting and I hope that its true.
I remember this part very vividly where Maya says her father had always asked her to be a strong girl and never allowed her to cry but on the other hand he has always treated his wife Jeanie like a baby and pampered her. That scene was like literally very emotional, it also said a lot about Maya’s emotionless attitude. What made you picture this kind of a scenario ? And can you talk about Judge Joe’s character a bit ? Because though his presence was bare minimum, the legacy he left behind was very strong and I would like to know more about him.
Certainly and forgive my long answer but here goes…Joseph was raised in the 60s and 70s, at the height of the civil rights movement, more transparent discrimination for Black people in America. As a Black man, especially going to law school and becoming a judge in small town Georgia, he’s had to learn how to navigate racism. He’s experienced a lot of hardships and wants his daughter, Maya to be prepared. Although time has passed the issues Black Americans faced while he was growing up, remains the same. So for Maya he felt like he had to prepare her for the realities of this world. He had to make her strong. Personally, he also wanted to make a big impact for his community and people who look like him. Many times, in the justice system, Black Americans are not given the benefit of the doubt nor second chances. He wanted to right those wrongs.
The part where Jeanie’s friend Vic gives her a piece of advice in understanding Maya’s anger and perspective to Jeanie was the best. It was an ultimate eye opener for Jeanie as well as for the readers. That scene showcased, despite Jeanie living and loving a black man for so many years how clueless she was about the happenings of the world and it was like a prick in the heart. So what was on your mind when you wrote it ?
I would say that I see this a lot. It doesn’t personally impact you so why step outside of your safety net, right? Thankfully, not in my family, but many times for people who marry or date someone from another race, they try to be ‘color blind’ i.e. I see no color. Which makes no sense to me because you are essentially erasing their experiences and identity. Especially if you end up having children who are mixed race. I think it’s important for the parents to understand that the world will view and treat them differently. And they need to love them as people, true, but also listen to their experiences as a person of color because it will very likely be different from their own.
Towards the end, when Ryder performed her poetry in the stage, it was the most magical moment of the entire book. I’m not much of a poetry person and I don’t know the A B C’s of it but I still loved it so very much and for the first time I guess a poem felt very personal. I guess it is called “Spoken words” I haven’t heard anything about it until this book. So my question is how did you write that deep, strong and beautiful piece “Let’s talk about it”. These lines has my entire heart and I love Ryder a lot at that very moment for reciting those frank words. So, yeah, let us talk about it. ��
The poem covered issues that are near and dear to my heart so I channeled my feelings into the poem and wrote about it.
Okay, we have been talking some very deep topics, now it’s time for a fun question! By now you would have understood how much I love this book and these characters and I really want to know this. If Judge’s Girls is made into a movie who are the actors do you think would be more suitable to play your lead characters ?
Ohhh, great question. I honestly haven’t thought about it yet, so let’s see…
Maya – Gabrielle Union or Janelle MonaeRyder – Elle Fanning or Abigail Breslin. I’m really open to casting for Ryder. Also, I had to really think about this because I’m not as familiar with child actors. I’m getting old!
Jeanie – Julie Roberts or Reese Witherspoon
So finally what do you feel about this interview ?
I loved this interview. Thanks for the thoughtful questions. I liked all of them. I’m so glad you enjoyed Judge’s Girls.
Thank you so very much Sharina!!!!!! This session showcased your in-depth thoughts and ideas behind this book and that’s what we wanted to get through this session. What is the best thing in world than to discuss your favorite book with the author herself, right ? And above all thank you so much Sharina for writing this wonderful book. The paperback of this book isn’t available here in India but I’m planning to ask my sister to get it for me from the US. Because I love this book so much and I want to add it to my little library. I realllyyyyyyy Loooooovvveeee this book soooo muchhh. I don’t know how to express my love for this book with words. It was just the best!!
Thank you!!! Thank you for the interview, your time and kindness!! If you send me your address I can see if my publisher will send you something! Doesn’t hurt to ask. Have a great day!!
Awwwwwww!!! That’s the most sweetest thing anybody has told me!! Thank you so much for that lovely thought itself, Sharina. This made me the happiest. All the very best for all your upcoming works and be the same awesome person that you are. And keep writing heart-warming and thought-provoking books!! Thanks much!!
Get in touch with the author :
And so yeah that’s it!!
It was a spectacular experience, wasn’t it ?
I know you would’ve enjoyed it as much as I did!!
Until next time,