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Friday, July 17, 2020

{FUN FACTS FRIDAY}: Joiya Morrison-Efemini

Fun Facts Friday is a brand new feature here on the blog where authors answer questions about their characters, and then share fun facts about themselves, and / or their books!

Today we have the lovely Joiya Morrison-Efemini and her YA novel in verse, Petrified Flowers.

Let’s start by learning a bit about you. Tell us who you are, where you’re from, what you write, etc.
Hello! My name is Joiya, and I grew up in beautiful Upstate NY. I went to college at Michigan State University – Go Green – and then completed my law degree at Emory University. I settled down in Georgia, and am now married with four fabulous kiddos, a cat, and a dog. I write mostly in verse, although I do have a traditional novel on the back burner.

Welcome, Joiya! We're thrilled to have you here today. So, let's get started, shall we? What does your character do for a living?
She’s sixteen, so I guess she’s a student.

Fun Fact: I answer “I guess” about Iris, but with my own kids, I am very firm when I tell them that their job is to be a student. I’m always stressing, with them, the importance of doing their work well. 

Who is your character's best friend?
Her sister, Freesia.

Fun Fact: My sister and I are nearly six years apart in age. Growing up, we played all day long – dolls, video games, swimming, all kinds of make-believe. I have so many memories of laughing nonstop and whispering secrets. But, in adolescence, I went through a crazy period of disliking her. I forgot what an amazing human being she is, and focused on my friends. Luckily, she forgave me, and now we talk almost every day. I am happy to call her sister, and blessed to call her friend.

Where did your character go to high school?
Iris attends three different high schools in the span of 2 years. 

Fun Fact: I lived in the same town for my entire grade school career. The schools I attended were a lot like Iris’ first school, in an upper middle class part of town, where she and her sisters were minorities. 

What does your character do to relax?  
Jay loves to exercise, and he loves to read. While in prison he devoured anything he could get his hands on in the library. He also loves to just be lazy and do whatever he wants whenever he wants.

Lacey loves bike riding, and going out with her friends. Movies, lunch and dinner hangouts, anything that involves going out with people. She also loves acting and working with the college theater department.

Fun Fact: I love creating. Writing, playing music, creating graphics, gardening, landscaping (to a degree) building things. I’m happiest when I can work in an environment where I can come up with and implement new ideas.

Is your character religious?
Iris is a very new Christian. She attends a historic African American Baptist church at first, and then her family moves to a more contemporary, “come as you are” type of church later. 

Fun Fact: I grew up in a very traditional Baptist Church that was 100% African American. Now, my family attends a church that is non-denominational. Our pastor is African American, but the congregation is atypically diverse.

Is your character close with their family?
Yes! Her sisters are her people.

Fun Fact: I grew up with a huge extended family- grandparents, lots of aunts and uncles, and cousins galore. We have mostly moved away from our hometown and are all spread out, but I know that if I need any of them, they are there.  

What makes your character laugh out loud?
Her sisters’ antics. 

Fun Fact: My sister and I used to have laugh attacks where our laughter became uncontrollable, and we fed off one another and literally could not stop. Even now, as adults, we very silly together. 

What is your character's most treasured possession?
Her Bible from Ma Moore.

Fun Fact: I mark up my Bibles as I read them, with highlighters and penned notations, and plan to give one to each of my kids when they go off to college. 

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

In a fractured world, Flowers bud in the deluge of God’s favor.

In this Novel-in-Verse, tragedy uproots Iris and her sisters, all named after flowers, from the solid ground of middle-class life and plants them, unsupervised, in the rocky terrain of low-income housing. In a world where rain falls only on the privileged, Liam, a student who attends the elite private school directly across the street, proves refreshing as a summer gale, gushing joy into the sisters' lives. Further nurtured by Ma Moore, a church elder who sprinkles the Flower sisters with spiritual wisdom, Iris embraces her Heavenly Father with steadfast urgency.

But when a student takes a hopeless leap from the school roof, Iris withers under the scorching realization that everything she thought she knew about privilege—and God—lies crippled. Petrified Flowers is the anthem of one African-American girl straddling three worlds. It is a song of hope, a triumph of faith, and a resounding refrain of the Father’s eternal love.

I am a wife, former attorney, current stay-at-home mom of four fantastic kiddos. We live in Marietta, Georgia, where my kids attend all three levels of schooling - elementary, middle and high. I began writing off and on in 2012 after I realized that returning to a law career wasn't conducive to happily raising four kids; for me. Other women do it brilliantly. In 2017 my first publication, a collection of short stories, The Notes They Played, was released. And, in 2019, my first novel, The Impossible, was published. I love to read, obviously. I try to read at least 40 books a year. And, yes, the books I read to my kids do count! I run socially, mostly as a way to connect with my close girlfriends. I've completed 2 marathons, and countless half marathon, 15K, 10K and 5K races. 

Find her on her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

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