Q&A: With Nikita Haynie

[By: Mona Ahmed]

Nikita Haynie describes herself as a Christian, an advisor to students, and writer who published her first novel “Phases” last year.  “Phases” is a trilogy, which depicts four students navigating their freshman year of college. In my interview with Haynie, she discusses how her job and faith influenced her book’s plot and what it is like to be a black woman writing Christian fiction.

What was the inspiration behind the plotline for your novel?  

So, the first thing was me thinking about growing up, I really was into book series like “Goosebumps” and “Sweet Valley High”. And just thinking like, ‘wow, you know, I really want to write something like that,’ because I was so engaged in those book series.

The second thing which probably was the most prevalent with the fact that I was working with college students and forming these relationships with students. So once you form these close relationships with students, they then confide in you about different things. So thinking about that was the inspiration for my book. College is such a powerful time in a young person’s life whether they choose to go to college, whether it is a two-year college or four-year college. I think is just a powerful time and is a transformative time. And quite frankly, I feel like it can make or break you because there are so many things happening, particularly as it pertains to a young person’s development. I really wanted to hone in on that and kind of encourage and empower students as they are going through this experience of college and hit on some of the challenges they might be going through some of the victories they might have.

What do you want your readers to take away from your book?

What I really want people to take away is just so like if you have already attended college, just kind of reflecting over your college experience. But most importantly, if you’re currently in college, that it’s okay for you to have challenges but at the end of the day is important for you to look at those challenges and those obstacles and think about how can this help me become a better person right? And then also is the undertone of the book is kind of about faith as well. So whatever your faith may be, how you can also find a balance between this experience that you’re going through it and also holding onto your faith, which is possible to do.

How does your faith play a role in your writing?

 It is the epitome of how I’m able to write because this is like something that I’ve thought about since I was a kid. But I didn’t actually bring into fruition until by my late 20s, but my faith is what kept me motivated to keep writing. When I initially started writing this book, it was in 2014, ……. then I fell off of writing it. Then I moved to Kansas in 2016. So then I was like, you know this is the perfect opportunity for me to really focus on this because I’m not distracted by all of the things I was distracted by in Atlanta. So I went on a fast and I did the fast for 40 days. And so every day I will pray about the characters and their storyline and just asking for the discernment and the ability to be able to write in those moments when you experience writer’s block. So, just kind of channeling that energy into my characters into the story.

Are there any Black authors that have inspired you? If so how?

Two black authors in particular that really inspire me are Stephanie Perrymore and then Kim Cash Tate. The cool thing about Kim Cash Tate is that I actually reached out to her on social media back in 2017. And I was like, you know what I’m going to shoot my shot and see if I can get her to respond to me. I wrote her a Facebook message and she wrote back she gave me encouragement and kind of told me about her process as a writer and author.

And so just to have that engagement with her, and then, you know a certain point in my process of writing, I will reach out to her. And she always responds, you know, and so I’m very encouraged by that. And one of the things that she told me that she does because I was like, you know, what would be your advice to a first-time author and she was like, rejection is a part of the process. So don’t take that personal and she also said I always pray, you know, pray about your book. Pray about your ideas about your characters in the images.

What have you noticed during the publishing process?

Something else I noticed in this process is that there are not just in general in the world of literature, black people don’t get the respect and notoriety that they deserve… Because the genre that I am going towards is more like Christian fiction particularly in that realm there is not a lot of black women.

Why do you think it’s so important moving forward that black women are given these spaces to showcase their work?

I think it’s important for black women and women of color to be showcased in this particular space because I think sometimes our experience with as it relates to religion, spirituality, and faith, it looks different.  

But I just think it’s important to shed light on that experience from the perspective of a black woman because as we know, in society as a whole, when it comes to like Christianity and things like that it is overshadowed more so by our white counterparts. And so I think just being able to showcase our experience is very important. Also giving people of color, particularly for my book, giving students of color, a perspective that they can relate to.

What’s next for you?

I am in the process of writing book two, because, in a book series, you kind of have to move fast before people lose interest. So I want to write that and then I also want to publish another novel. But, it’s going to be a novel about a black woman and just her evolution as a woman through the breakup of a relationship. I  also want to find more opportunities that allow them to showcase my writing, not just as a creative writer, but a writer overall.

You can purchase Haynie’s ebook on Amazon.  

This interview has been edited down for clarity.  

Nikita Annette Haynie is a proud Georgia peach. She earned her Master of Education in Higher Education from Georgia Southern University and Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a minor in African American Studies from Clayton State University. Currently, she serves as the Assistant Director for Sorority & Fraternity Life in the Student Involvement and Leadership Center advising the Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council. Her life motto is: “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Ghandi).  She also advises the new student organization G.E.M.S (Gifted Empowered Motivated Sisters) that empowers and centers the voices of black women matriculating at KU. Last year she became a published author, publishing the first installment in her book series Phases. In her spare time, you can find her writing, reading, meditating on affirmations, and obsessing over her three-year-old niece. She is a life- long learner and believes in all things positive.