Monika M. Pickett is a relatively new voice in a literary category that is often overlooked, African-American lesbian romance.
Now her latest release, Pretty Boy Blue, 2nd Edition, has become the number one best-seller on Amazon.com in the U.S. and Canada across multiple categories including lesbian romance, LGBT fiction and romantic erotica among others.
“Not enough stories about lesbians, much less African-American lesbians, are told. Although our presence in literature is evolving, the scales of opportunity and access remain unbalanced. I wanted to tell my story as well as the story of many who struggle with their sexuality and coming out,” said Pickett.
Pickett said she was also inspired by Toni Morrison who once said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”
Loosely based on the author’s life story, Pretty Boy Blue is the coming-of-age tale of Nikki Blue, who always knew she liked girls and wanted to be married – to a wife. However, given the 1990s setting of the story, such a desire seemed unlikely. That did not stop Nikki Blue from dreaming and exploring her deepest same-sex desires.
After the loss of her childhood innocence and being uprooted over and over again, Nikki stumbles through adolescence, endures school bullying, and ultimately finds herself in the middle of the local gay and lesbian club scene. She meets older women who teach her about her body, but they don’t understand her heart. Through it all, she remains determined to find her truest self.
Pretty Boy Blue also includes the rarely-depicted journey of a lesbian in the U.S. Army. It is a lesson in courage and resilience. Pretty Boy Blue is available on Amazon.com.
In addition to being an award-winning author, Pickett is a single mother, grandmother and service veteran of the Iraq War who also suffers from Neurosarcoidosis, an auto-immune disease. Pickett wrote Pretty Boy Blue while recovering from a stroke caused by the disease.
Pickett is a LGBTQ rights advocate and a cultural commentator who shares her thoughts, experiences and advice on multiple media platforms.
Monika speaks to us about her book:
What is Pretty Boy Blue about?
Pretty Boy Blue is the coming-of-age story of Nikki Blue. Nikki always knew she liked girls. She dreams of a white picket fence and marriage to a wife. She is determined to discover her truest self while exploring her deepest same-sex desires. Nikki stumbles through adolescence until she finds solace in the glittery Washington, D.C., gay and lesbian club scene of the 80’s. Pretty Boy Blue is a story of courage and resilience.
What inspired you to write Pretty Boy Blue?
I wanted to tell my story as well as the story of many who struggle with their sexuality and coming out. Growing up, I didn’t see positive images of me and my African-American lesbian friends. I once read a quote by the late Toni Morrison which said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So, I decided I didn’t have to wait for anyone. I wrote it myself.
Why did you feel it is important to tell more stories by and about African-American lesbians?
Not enough stories about lesbians, much less African-American lesbians, are told. Our stories, voices, and contributions are often excluded from the narratives of history. Overall, there should be diversity in storytelling so we better understand lesbians in the U.S. and around the world. Although the presence of African-American lesbians represented in literature is evolving, the scales of opportunity and access remain imbalanced.
What challenges did you face in writing Pretty Boy Blue?
I wrote Pretty Boy Blue while recovering from a stroke. The writing process was quite cathartic. It forced me to acknowledge how my childhood fed my fears, accomplishments as well as my determination to succeed. As an Indie Author, I received several rejections from literary agents as well as traditional publishing houses. Their rejection forced me to fall back on one of the most important things I learned in business school…Surround yourself with people who do the things you don’t know how to do. Writing the book was the easy part. Understanding and implementing the complex aspects of marketing, budgeting and public relations is key.
What do you want the readers to gain from the story?
I want readers, little girls and boys, woman and men, all of society to see and know that women like me, women who unapologetically live authentic lives, exist. We’ve made great strides towards equality for the LGBTQ community, but we have so much work to do. There are still people, young and old, who suffer in silence.
How do you feel about having a #1 bestseller on Amazon in the LGBTQ space? I am elated about having a #1 bestseller on Amazon in the LGBTQ space. The LGBTQ community is not easily impressed. As an African-American lesbian author, I feel an overwhelming responsibility to tell my story and the story of those who feel as though they may not have a voice.