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Q&A with author Ananda Kiamsha Madelyn Leeke March 21, 2008

Posted by Ashley in lifestyle.
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After reading the summary to Love’s Troubadours-Karma Book One, I was really interested into getting to know more about the novel. An educated african-american woman whose life crashes before her, and with all that she is able to pick herself up, with the help of love from friends and learning to discover who she is. Love’s Troubadours-Karma Book One is a new novel by new author Ananda Kiamsha Madelyn Leeke, and I had the chance to have a Q & A with her on the her own life experiences and of course, her excellent novel, Love’s Troubadours-Karma Book One.

1) Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I realized that I was a writer when I was 11. I was good at making greeting cards and writing messages and poetry in them. It all came so easy to me. It was natural.
2) I know most writers based their novels on life experiences, Is this the same for you?
Some of my personal experiences are woven into fabric of Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One. For example, I based a lot of the external and internal architecture of my main character Karma Francois on my life and experiences such as being a daddy’s girl, debutante, Bohemian Black American Princess, sorority sister, yoga teacher, a person who uses therapy and meditation to navigate emotional challenges, urban dweller in Chocolate City DC, and graduate of a historically Black university. In addition, I included many of my personal self-care practices, spiritual beliefs, and personal interests in the lives of Karma and other characters. With all that said, I also made an effort to separate myself from Karma and the other characters. I did that by creating aspects of their lives that don’t resemble my life such as my family structure and place of origin. Karma’s father (has Louisiana and Chicago roots) dies and leaves behind some family secrets that she and her New Orleans-born, socialite mother and conservative lawyer twin sister must deal with in Oakland, California. In my own life, my father is very much alive and married to my mother in Mitchellville, Maryland. My parents were born in Indianapolis, Indiana. We don’t have any Louisiana creole roots or twin siblings. I do have three brothers.
3) I love that you included the role of the BAP (Black American Princess) into your Love’s Troubadours-Karma Book One. Are you a fan of the book?

Yes I am a big fan of the The BAP Handbook: The Official Guide to the Black American Princessby authors Kalyn Johnson, Tracey Lewis, Karla Lightfoot, and Ginger Wilson. The BAP Handbook was an entertaining and humorous read that shed light on the various lifestyles of Black American Princesses. I especially enjoyed the BAP Quiz. One summer evening, my mother and I were reading the book for fun and took the quiz together. We learned that she was a Butterfly BAP, a BAP who did not come from a prominent family, but discovers her “BAPness” in college. The quiz also informed us that I was a BoHo BAP, a BAP who comes from a prominent family, but is unorthodox in her style and her behavior. The next day we continued our conversation by tracing my womanline and discovered that I was the descendant of a long line of BAPs on my father’s side. His grandmother, mother, and aunts all passed the BAP quiz with flying colors. That gave us a big laugh.
4) A lot of people, especially black people, don’t like the BAP Handbook and what is portrays (which is seen as bougie or stuck up) What do you think of it?
First let me say that Black folks are not monolithic. Our experiences are diverse. We represent many types of people with various spiritual, personal, and political beliefs.Our education, socioeconomic class, professions, families, friends, fashion sense, travel adventures, and material trappings cannot be grouped in one or two boxes. We are unique. And it is our uniqueness that makes us so fabulous. I think the BAP Handbook celebrates the fabulousness and personal experiences of a group of African American women who are not always acknowledged or portrayed in Black and mainstream media. Some BAPs may be seen as bougie or stuck up. Other BAPs may be seen as educated, caring women who live well, manage their finances, own their own homes, support their families, love their boyfirends/girlfriends/partners/spouses, raise their children, run their own businesses, cook vegan and vegetarian food, eat at gourmet restaurants, organize wine tastings, practice yoga and meditation, visit spas on a regular basis, attend church and other spiritual events, read all types of books, listen to eclectic music, watch international and independent films, volunteer and serve their communities through their sororities and other women’s groups, purchase all types of art, attend cultural events, and travel outside of the USA and Caribbean. BAPs represent a part of Black life. They always have. I represent four generations of BAPs. And I’m pretty sure that there will be more BAPs to come after me.
5) Are there any writers that you admire and aspire to be?
I admire the Buddha, Lorraine Hansberry, bell hooks, Thich Nhat Hahn, Pema Chodron, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Myrtle Filmore, Susan L. Taylor, Jane Austin, Rumi, Isabel Allende, Caroline Shola Arewa, Toni Cade Bambara, Jewel Parker Rhodes, Audre Lorde, Catherine Ponder, Don Miguel Ruiz, Tim’m West, Ntozake Shange, Ernest Holmes, Iyanla Vanzant, Kevin Powell, E. Ethelbert Miller, Toni Blackman, Mark Anthony Neal, Tricia Rose, Queen Afua, Veronica Chambers, Monique Greenwood, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes. I aspire to be myself, an open creative spirit who surrenders her ego so that she can tell the story that Spirit wants her to tell.

6) Karma Francois seems to be a very fascinating character. An African-American woman whose college educated and who finds herself, within a midst of bad time in her life. This relates to what a lot of women are going through now, Did you intend to have an effect on women and their lives by writing this novel?
Yes. My intention was to write a book that showed how people live and learn as they love themselves and others. Healing, self-love, and self-discovery were core themes in the book. They represent areas that I think all people and especially women need to make time for and focus on.
7) You also have gay/lesbian characters in your Love’s Troubadours. By creating these characters, I would suppose you are a supporter of LGBT community. However, in the black community, homosexuality is looked down upon. Have you received any love/dislike from African-Americans because of it? And why did you want to create gay/lesbian characters for your novel?
I want everyone to live authentically, experience beauty and connection fully, and love freely. So that makes me a straight Black BoHo BAP who supports straight, lesbian, gay,  bisexual, and transgender people’s rights to live as they were made to be.I think there are pockets of the straight Black community that support the LGBT community. However, I don’t think these pockets are widely acknowledged in Black and mainstream media. That’s why I wanted to have a diverse cast of characters who represent all sexual orientations. It mirrors the world we all live in whether we want to admit or not. We fool ourselves when we try to act like diversity in the way that Black folks love has never existed. We have been loving and living in many ways for centuries. I celebrate this truth in my work. To date, readers have positively embraced my diverse cast of characters.
8) If Love’s Troubadours were made into a movie, who would you want casts as your main characters?
Right now I think Jada Pinkett Smith would make a great Karma. Rockmund Dunbar (Kenny from Soul Food on Show Time ) would be wonderful as Karma’s brother Ohnedaruth. Lynn Whitfield would be perfect for Karma’s mother. Malik Yoba would make a great Symon.
9) Are there any books that are your all time must reads (other than Love’s Troubadours)?
Yes. I love books. My list is long: Opening to Spirit: Contacting the Healing Power of the Chakras and Honouring African Spirituality by Caroline Shola Arewa, Confirmation edited by Khephra Burns and Susan L. Taylor, Chakra Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Farrand, True Love by Thich Nhat Hahn, Communion by bell hooks, What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex by Hilda Hutchinson, The Life and Art of Lois Mailou Jones by Tritobia Hayes Benjamin, Sexopedia by Anne Hooper, Amalia Amaki: Boxes, Buttons, and the Blues by Andrea D. Barnwell, Gloria Wade Gayles, and Leslie King-Hammond, In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens by Alice Walker, Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby, The BAP Handbook: The Official Guide to the Black American Princess by Kalyn Johnson, Tracey Lewis, Karla Lightfoot, and Ginger Wilson, Red Dirt Revival: A Poetic Memoir in 6 Breaths by Tim’m West, The New Black Man by Mark Anthony Neal, Intimacy edited by Robert Fleming, A Love Noire by Erica Simone Turnipseed, Cane River by Latita Tademy, We Real Cool by bell hooks, Nappy Edges by Ntozake Shange, Assata by Assata Shakur, Remembered Raptured by bell hooks, The Essential Rumi – Translation by Coleman Barks, Dreaming Me by Jan Willis, and OM Yoga: A Guide to Daily Practice by Cyndi Lee.

Be sure to check out her website for Love’s Troubadours’s, visit her youtube page to get a feel for what the story is about, and get your own copy.



1. ananda - March 21, 2008

Thanks Ashley-Nicole for supporting my book and work. Many blessings.

2. browngirlgumbo - March 25, 2008

Great interview Ashley-Nicole!!!

Love’s Troubadours is a great book that every young woman should have in her library! 🙂

3. Rant or Rave « ash magazine: beauty, music, lifestyle - May 2, 2008

[…] by ashmagazine in ashmagazine. trackback I recently read a Q & A that seemed very similar to mine, minus a few questions.  Its not like someone wrote questions that sound a little bit like mine, […]

4. ananda - May 3, 2008

Dear Ashley-Nicole and ash magazine readers,

The responses that appear in Ashely-Nicole’s author interview blog post on March 21, 2008, were created by me in response to questions that she sent me via e-mail. I used content that I created from previous interview questions and responses, book talks, and radio and television interviews with other interviewers to prepare these responses. My photographer Leigh Mosley and I own the copyright to the photograph posted in the March 21, 2008 blog post. I own the copyright of the book cover posted in the March 21st blog post.

Ananda Leeke
Author, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

5. Kamau - June 11, 2008

“Like most poor people in the United States, I have no voice. The Black press and the progressive media, as well as Black civil rights organizations, have historically played an essential role in the struggle for social justice. We should continue and expand that tradition. We should create media outlets that help to educate our people and our children, and not annihilate their minds. I am only one woman. I own no TV stations or radio stations or newspapers. But I believe that people need to be educated as to what is going on and to understand the connection between the news media and the instruments of repression in America. All I have are my voice, my spirit and the will to tell the truth. But I sincerely ask those of you in the Black media, those of you in the progressive media and those of you who believe in truth and freedom to publish my story.’ -Assata Shakur

Eyes of the Rainbow documentary free to view and download. Please distribute widely.

6. Calling All BAPS « ash magazine: beauty, music, lifestyle - June 15, 2008

[…] Ananda Leeke has created BAP Living and BAP Living Radio. A Monthly Podcast that features interviews with […]

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