Black indie author Takerra Allen is doing things big. I recently spoke with her about her latest release, Needful Noor.
Tell me about your latest book.
Ah. My latest novel is titled Needful Noor. It’s what I call a mega-novel; really a two-part series combined into one book, close to 800 pages. It centers around a woman named Noor, who for the first time in my writing, is a very flawed protagonist. The book is about her journey, her identity. But it runs parallel with a story of love, lust, passion, infatuation, mystery, trauma, all of that. We follow Noor as she moves from her past to her present and the two meet.
Why did you decide to write it?
I was actually working on Noor’s story before my last release Last Stop from Innocence. This story has been in motion for maybe three or four years. I took a break when Last Stop came to me because Noor’s story—this story—was so complex and layered, it was easy to get Last Stop out and come back. The time away allowed me the opportunity decide the direction I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to pen something more mature. Adult, sexy, mysterious. I wanted to tell a story that made the reader think as well as feel. Make them battle their own morality and principles. In Last Stop, I challenged myself by dipping a toe into the mystery and thriller pool. I wanted to pen this girl’s story and include the mysterious elements along with my signature of urban, romance, and contemporary black fiction. As I wrote, the magic happened, and a very organic love story sort of brewed within Noor’s journey.
Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
Ooh, this is tough. Very tempted to say Noor, but I’m actually going to go with the guy, Dorian. The way Dorian presents as a man with it all together; not just on top of the world, but with control of it and then his pieces start to unravel throughout the story, it brings a depth to him I feel. You get to see what he’s dealing with, battling, and longing for. You see a man who is of course, very alpha, dominant, assertive and at the same time compassionate, charming, and charismatic. Without giving too much away, I think he shatters the mold of what this type of character is supposed to be like. Equally flawed as Noor, I still can’t help but to love him to pieces.
What was the hardest part about writing the story?
I think before giving in to the story and still trying to outline and control where it was going and how in depth I was going to delve, it was frustrating. When I found myself close to 300 pages and it still felt like the beginning, I was like Okay. I need to chop something. But then I’m going through it, and everything was needed. Everything was important. There’s a lot of conversation; lots of dialogue. In my heart, in my gut—all needed. It builds the connection between the characters, and the connection to the readers. The development of these characters’ desires, the understanding of their decisions, all of the pieces were a necessity. Once I submitted to that and said, When I’m done, I’m done, no matter what; I was freed. We topped over 700 pages, and I didn’t feel shame about it. It was fully intended to be a standalone, so for now, it is.
If you were to write a book about your life, what would be the title and why?
I always say if I ever wrote a book about my life, it wouldn’t do well because people would think it was too unrealistic. They’d be like, No way was the girl that, and that, and this, and went through that, and experienced that, and survived that, and knew this person, and she’s nothing like this. So, the title would have to be something outlandish like Swear to God! This Really Happened!
I mean, mostly everything I write about, I’ve seen, experienced, or had people very close to me experience. I had this small stint in the music industry as a rapper (don’t ask LOL). I had a colorful childhood filled with love but some pain and trauma. It’d be a book as big as this one, for sure!
What would you tell your 16-year-old self?
Your worth is not equivalent to what you think it is. Focus on your passions, on your talents, on your dreams, on expanding your mind. I got you. You don’t have to look for anyone to save you. You don’t have to look for anyone to understand and love that pain away. I’m going to save you. You’re going to be your own savior. And all of that writing you like to do, someone’s going to dig it one day. So, skip these upcoming years and failed attempts at psychology, law, political science, acting, music, etc. etc. etc., kid.
What is something readers would be surprised to know about you?
Aw, man. There’s a few. I was a rapper named Menaje in college, before Nicki Minaj was a thing. I probably have some mixtapes floating around out there. Had a terrible, awful deal with Atlantic Records that God allowed to fall through. I met some interesting people though, and got a glimpse of a world I didn’t want to be in. Um, I’m an extremely private and lowkey person. A minimalist. I hate shopping, not a fan of labels. I’m on a constant mission for deep connections. I am deathly afraid of snakes. I hate tomatoes and mayo. Holes and patterns creep me out. Pineapple goes on pizza. True hip-hop head, but I listen to everything from R&B to rock to alternative to soul to jazz.
Tell me about a book that changed your life and why.
I’m going to bypass those really big, significant books from really famous people that had a huge impact on me and go to one that really did change my life. White Lines by Tracy Brown. Before that, I had read a few urban fiction novels that I absolutely adored. But I was thinking, Man, if I ever wrote a book like this, I’d write more of a love story with it. Maybe go deep into the character’s life, too. Then I read White Lines, and I was like, This! I want to do this! I can do it. I can write gritty and raw and romantic at the same time? Really? World, watch out. So, shout out to Tracy Brown.
What’s next for you?
I have two novels in development that I want to finish first and foremost, while I’m still very excited about them both. Then, I [want] to dive into this script. Put some effort into branching out to television and film hopefully. Other than that, living, loving, appreciating each day of this interesting life.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
I just want to say while the African American literary world is a small piece of the very big world, to the people in it, we are really in our own world. The world is growing though, and the masses are noticing. In order to keep this world spinning and alive, we need each other. Readers and authors. Authors and Authors. Readers and readers. We can discuss passionately and create and consume art and agree and disagree on it with love. We can coexist with love. We can be creative and original and have respect for the art and each other to put in the effort to be unique and tap into what makes us special in this world. We can take us to next levels working as one machine. We can shift Hollywood. We can shift culture.
Use the Black Fiction Addiction affiliate link Needful Noor.
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Facebook: Takerra Allen
Inquiries: Sandra at [email protected]