Imagine a woman who created a fantasy she dreamed of reading about. That dream led her to becoming a New York Bestselling Author of The Everleaf Series, a fantasy series with diverse representation. As an environmental engineer also, Constance Burris is a woman who believes staying disciplined is the key to success. I got the honor to catch up with Constance as we chatted about the inspiration behind The Everleaf Series, her accomplishments in the writing industry, and how she stays disciplined through success.
What inspired The Everleaf series?
CB : “My entire family loved the fantasy movie Lord of the Rings, despite the lack of a diverse cast. I’ve always loved fantasy with elves and dragons and magic, but I couldn’t forget how much my family enjoyed a fantasy movie that had no black representation. In fact, everyone with dark skin in the Lord of the Rings were evil.
With the Everleaf Series, a story about a black teenage boy living in the world of elves, I was able to create the diversity that I longed for in fantasy.”
What does success mean to you?
Success for me is not a noun, a place, or a destination. It’s is an action word.
Success for me is taking it one step at time to get closer to a dream and a goal.
Most importantly, success for me means keeping an eye on the future while always appreciating the present.
Which characteristics do you most admire in other authors?
CB: “I am constantly impressed with Nnedi Okorafor and Neal Shusterman’s ability to create new and exciting worlds.
I admire writers like N.K. Jemisin who are great speakers. I want to be a Guest of Honor at a speculative fiction conference one day. My dream is to give an inspirational speech like Jemisin gave when she accepted the Hugo award for best novel for the third time.
Most of all, I admire writers who write really fast. I really wish I could write faster. ”
Has learning a mistake ever led you to success?
CB : “Of course, mistakes and failure are a huge part of success. For example, there is a certain newsletter that authors pray to have their books featured in. It took two years of monthly failures before they accepted my book.”
When you’re not motivated, how do you stay disciplined in your writing process?
CB: “Fostering automatic habits and keeping a consistent schedule keeps me disciplined. Sometimes life gets in the way, but every Tuesday and Thursday, I get off work, get a cup of coffee from 7-11 or Starbucks and sit on my butt at the library for three hours. On the weekends, I’m out by 9 AM and sit my butt in the chair at a coffee shop until 4 pm.”
As an environmental engineer, what is a typical day for you between working and writing?
CB: “Automatic habits are key. My alarm wakes me at 5 AM. I usually have to use the bathroom, so that helps me actually get out of bed and avoid the snooze button.
Thanks to Project 333, which is a challenge with the goal of limiting your closet to 33 items over 3 months; I have a small, functional, and beautiful wardrobe where I can just grab something and go.
Most days, I’m in the office by 6:30 AM with a cup of coffee beside me, working through my most important work-related tasks.
By taking working lunches, I’m off work between 2:30 and 3 pm. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I pick up my son from school. But my husband has agreed to pick him up on Tuesday and Thursdays, so I’ll have an entire evening to work on my writing business.
Which quote or motto inspires you to get back up?
CB: “What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that could happen? Everything is temporary including failure, so what do you have to lose?
Name your greatest accomplishment in your business experience.
CB :My greatest accomplishment in my fledgling writing business is hitting publish on my first novel COAL. I spent so many years working on COAL. I was so scared that no one would like it, that I kept paying for editors to make sure there was nothing wrong with it. Eventually I realized that grammatically correct or not, if people don’t like the plot or characters then it didn’t matter how much work I put into it.
I would never know if the book was any good, if I didn’t hit publish and let other reads it. Finally, I gathered my courage and hit publish.
According to the reviews on Amazon, the book is pretty good! ”
Constance Burris is on a journey to take over the world through fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Her mission is to spread the love of African American speculative fiction to the masses. She is a proud Blerd (Black nerd), mother, and wife. When she is not writing and spending time with her family, she is working hard as an environmental engineer in Oklahoma City.