At the turn of 2020, The Sassy Writer held a contest. It was a book cover contest and produced so many unique covers. Behind those covers were even more talented writers.
The contest was interesting as judging the cover alone was the only allowance. There were no synopsis or book summaries allowed. TSW ultimately did the very thing you are always encouraged not to do: Judge a book by its cover. The results produced the People's Choice Winner, who was the author who received the Popular votes. As well, it produced the overall winner, which TSW handpicked. The winner was Corrine Mann, author of the novella Lost Angels in Dark Skyes.
TSW: What was your immediate thought when you received notification of your win with The Sassy Writer's "Judge A Book By Its Cover" book cover contest?
CM: "No way!" Were my only words for like a good minute, lol. I legit thought the email was sent in error and just kept rereading it in shock. My cover was up against some beautiful and good-looking covers, and I kept telling myself there was no way I was going to win. My sister Ciera always encouraged me, saying, "You got it, you got it," so when I got the news, I ran to her room, and we just screamed and jumped around like crazy, lol. I'm so thankful for this opportunity.
TSW: That is too funny. Yes, you are right. There were terrific covers from all niches, fantasy, children's books, YA. I was highly impressed by the amount of invested creativity.
What was the creative process of developing your cover art?
CM: I wanted to keep it simple with a sky to play along with the character's name and title. My good friend Phil is a photographer and takes excellent landscape shots, so he sent me his catalog, and I found this particular photo. The sky is precisely how I described it in one of the scenes in the story. After playing around with a few selfies and filters in one photo app, I combined all of the images in another app, and BOOM- my first book cover was born! Lol.
TSW: So, the entire time the contest ran, I would not indulge in the covers. I felt I would overthink the purpose - to be fun and straightforward. When it was down to the wire, and we HAD to choose. I reviewed each cover; Carefully taking in artistic views, quality, and how intrigued I felt when I see the cover.
Oh, goodness- there were so many. However, Lost Angels Dark Skyes had that particular something. The title and art were compelling, almost magnetic. And from reading it, my feeling was confirmed. It's a knockout. In this instance, I'm glad I chose to judge a book by its cover.
So, before we go into your novella, let's talk inspiration. Tell me about an experience of life that showed you that your words could create powerful stories.
CM: 8th grade Language Arts, my class had an assignment to write a short story. After the teacher graded our work, she praised one particular story with so much emotion but didn't mention the writer. Me, just over class and ready to go home, was tuned out until she started reading the story out loud, and I realized it was mine! I couldn't believe it because I rushed through that story and thought it sucked, but my teacher absolutely loved it. Shout out to Ms. Barnes at James Madison Middle School! Lol.
TSW: Haha! I hope she reads this! It's crazy how we as writers are shocked when we see someone enjoying our words. Like, you write entirely with the intent to capture the reader. But, oh man- when you learn that they were definitely caught, it turns into the thirst to know more, 'tell me what part you like most. I know I've asked three times, I just want to hear it again.'
It's exciting. But, Corrine, I feel there is a cosmic element to your work. Do you feel a spiritual connection with your writing?
CM: Absolutely. My writing is composed of small pieces of me in a literal sense. I can tap into all of my emotions at once, which can become overwhelming, and sometimes I take that back into the real world with me.
TSW: How much, if any, of your life reflects in Lost Angels in Dark Skyes?
CM: I would say 95% of Lost Angels in Dark Skyes mirrors my life. The setting and activities the girl's experience I pulled from my younger years. Like the scene when Angel pushes Bianca, Bianca hits her head on the radiator and needs stitches. That happened to me when I was 5 or 6, and my older sister pushed me because she didn't want to share her Life cereal, lol. I fell, hit my head against the radiator, and needed stitches in the back of my head. My older brother traumatized me by saying my brains would fall out of my head, lol.
TSW: Wow! Literally drawing from your pain! Which scene of Lost Angels in Dark Skyes turned out to be the toughest to write and why?
CM: At the end, when we meet Skye's family, specifically her father, Leroy. He's an abusive man, and it was hard for me to write him physically abusing his wife. I was ashamed that I wrote it and cringed every time I go back and reread it. I've never personally experienced domestic violence, but I have witnessed it far too many times with women around me, and it's a horrible situation. I believe God built man with the strength to provide and protect, and it infuriates me when men take advantage of that power to cause harm instead.
TSW: Domestic abuse is horrible and never ok.* Tough scenes like that I can understand how they would be cringeworthy to read. It's like peeling an onion. I'm sure it had to be somewhat emotionally overwhelming to write. On the opposite end of the spectrum, was there any point when writing where you surprised yourself creatively?
CM: When I finished the story and released it for the public to read - I've received a lot of positive feedback, which still shocks me because I used to be shy about sharing my work. Now I'm thrilled to know people can get a glimpse of what goes on inside of my head and genuinely be entertained, lol. My favorite is when readers share a specific part or line a character says that connects with them. It leaves me overwhelmed with gratitude.
TSW: Ahh, yes! And rightfully so, the story is excellent! It is also available for download for others who would like to see precisely what we mean. Are you working on anything new?
CM: Yes, I am, and I'm excited about it. I'm currently working on book two of The Broken Butterfly Series. We'll meet another young lady battling internal warfare and silenced by her pain. Her story taps into a plague that has troubled our country since the beginning of its existence. Skye's story will continue alongside our new girl throughout the series, so fans of Skye should stay tuned. I'm looking to release it in summer 2021.
TSW: I can not wait to see Skye in motion in the aftermath. Before we head out, let's get a few rapid-fire questions in with you. Corrine, we're going to put you in the hot seat.
TSW: Coffee, tea, champagne, or wine?
CM: Tea-ginger with lots of honey
TSW: One thing you wish your readers knew about you or your writing?
CM: I want my readers to know that the words I share can be a community voice for emotions you may not be able to express yourself. See my work as a secondary voice.
TSW: If Lost Angels in Dark Skyes was adapted into a film, who would you cast as Sabrina?
CM: I've always appreciated filmmakers like my inspirations Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino when they make cameos in their films, so I plan on playing Sabrina. Only because she's just in the opening, and she's setting Skye up in the story. Similar to how I feel as an author.
TSW: The last question makes me feel we should be looking for a directional debut. How can readers connect?
CM: I'm mostly active on Instagram @corr.inne.
Readers on Wattpad can find me @CoMa420
But my favorite place to be found is on my website at www.comasuniverse.com.
There you will find all of my works of writing, including poems and short stories.
*For anyone tuned in, if you or someone you know is in a domestic abuse situation, please call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).