Today I am really excited to introduce you to my friend and fellow writer Tammy Ferebee!
Tammy is an incredibly talented Author. Not only is her writing beautiful and capable of pulling you into her world, but she's not afraid to tackle the hard topics. Her books will stay with you long after you've read them, especially the book we are here to talk about today. Born this Way.
Before you jump into the interview, here is a little information on her book Born this way :).
Being yourself should never come at this price.
Joseph is the son anyone would wish to have—anyone except his pastor father, that is. Joseph is gay, and where he comes from, his sexual orientation makes him a pariah. Tormented by the incorrigible denizens of his unprogressive Southern town, Joseph finds himself desperate for support from other members of the LGBT community. He turns to the internet with the hope of finding it, and, unexpectedly, Joseph finds more. Bruce.
An unlikely virtual friendship between Joseph and Bruce grows into something more, leading to a seemingly fated meeting. Joseph’s future suddenly looks brighter than ever, but no one could’ve ever predicted what would transpire after the two finally meet.
Welcome, Tammy! Thank you so much for doing this! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Good Afternoon, Natalie! Thank you so much for having me. To share a bit about myself, my real name is Tammy Ferebee. I don’t write under any creative pseudonyms. I am the super proud mother of two, and both of my children are creatives as well. We are an active, silly bunch, who try to smile through anything. In addition to being a mother, I am an orca-obsessed, always smiling vegan, who is also proud to call herself a dedicated humanitarian.
What made you decide to become an author?
While I’ve been writing for most of my life, deciding to become an author came about when I wrote something I felt comfortable enough to share with others. Some projects that I’ve written and completed will remain unpublished. Other projects, I know before beginning that I’d like others to read. To piggyback that, I have a really wild imagination and I’m also passionate about bringing light to certain issues via storytelling. Some people find it difficult to connect with real-world issues until they’re sucked into the story of a character they love and have to literally feel/ read their way through their beloved character’s struggles. Creating and educating is such a joy. It feels almost magical. Experiencing that feeling while writing definitely let me know that I was meant to become an author.
When did you first start writing?
I began writing early in my childhood. In elementary school, I was passionate about writing poetry and children’s books. As a middle schooler, I completed my first novella and my first screenplay. I began at a very young age and the process still excites me today.
Tell us a bit about Born this Way.
Born This Way is undeniably the darkest piece I’ve written to date. The protagonist, Joseph, the son of a pastor, is a young, black, gay male living in an unprogressive, Southern town. The story is tragic and really allows readers inside the mind of a tortured soul. Pain leads to a search for love in the wrong place, and Joseph finds himself forever changed after an expected event. (Please note: Readers have attached a Trigger Warning to this book.)
Where did the idea come from?
I had played around with the idea of this story for some time before actually writing it. Although I grew up in Maryland, I was raised by my father; a proud, Southern, black man. Unfortunately, my father was very homophobic and wasn’t afraid to share his thoughts on the subject, regardless of who was around. I had always struggled with that, even as a young child. I had thoughts such as: What if the person listening to your rant is secretly gay and your words are breaking their heart, dad? I could never ask him that because he wasn’t the type of father who would allow his children to question him, but the hatred toward homosexuals, specifically homosexual men, really hurt me. My father and other family members addressed homosexuals as “things” and used other hurtful slurs right in front of me. I listened to their hateful remarks and decided to explore just how far hate could drive a person. My imagination did the rest.
What was the experience like for you as an author, writing a book with such emotional and serious themes?
Believe it or not, the experience was almost therapeutic. I certainly had to dig deep, and there were many moments when I had to take a break, but I enjoyed that I was finally able to use my writing skills and be truthful and blunt about what it’s like for some gay men who are a part of deeply religious families. Of course, my story took a totally unexpected turn, which I don’t believe has ever happened, and I’m thankful for that, but writing about the pain some gay men face due to the constant bullying, hate speech, and threats, allowed me to feel honest as a fiction writer. I also think the story helped me to grow as an author.
What's one thing you hope readers take away from Born this Way?
I hope readers understand just how powerful their words are. Hateful words can truly cause an individual to feel worthless and alone. I also hope that readers step back and really examine if they use their religious beliefs as an excuse or free ticket to hurt another. I just want this story to make people think about what they say, how they make people feel, and to find compassion within themselves. Life is hard enough. No one should have to feel hated and alone.
This month is not only Gay Pride month but we are seeing a huge stand being taken against racism right now around the world. Is there anything you would like to say to those who have experienced racism or discrimination of any kind?
I have personally experienced racism. I’ve been called the “N” word, I’ve been racially profiled in stores, and I’ve been treated badly by teachers who obviously favored the white students. In 7th grade, my best friend and I made the honor roll. My white science teacher sat our awards on the table and said, “I’m surprised you hoodlums actually made the honor roll.” I remember going off and storming out of the classroom because I was so angered and hurt. For others who have experienced racism and discrimination, I know the pain. I know it’s angering. We must continue to fight for equality and fight the urge to meet hate with hate. We’re not in this alone! There are many other races and millions who lead different lifestyles, who still stand with us because they refuse to ignore injustice. Please let that show just how much beauty there is in the world, even though hate and evil still exist.
Being a black woman yourself, is there anything you would like to say to those who don't understand the current protests or what Black Lives Matters is all about?
Many don’t seem to understand why we’re saying “Black Lives Matter” as opposed to “All Lives Matter”. Simply put, white people are not killed at alarming rates by officers; black or white. There aren’t countless videos of white people dying unjustly at the hands of African Americans. We’re protesting a very real and obvious problem in our country. Do all lives matter? Absolutely. Are all lives treated as though they matter and as though they’re valuable? No. So we’re focusing on the group that’s suffering, being killed, and being overlooked by those who can make a difference. That group just happens to be African Americans.
Do all lives matter? Absolutely. Are all lives treated as though they matter and as though they’re valuable? No. So we’re focusing on the group that’s suffering, being killed, and being overlooked by those who can make a difference. That group just happens to be African Americans.
What's one thing that those who haven't experienced racism or severe discrimination can do to better understand yours and others experiences?
Listen. It’s that simple. I don’t mean, just hear what another is saying. I’m talking about actually listening and taking in the hurt of an innocent human being who just happens to be of a different race, different background, who's a part of the LGBTQ+ community, etc. By listening, we learn, and as humans, feelings should follow. Those feelings should help an individual to determine what actions they should take, even if that means looking a little more closely at themselves and changing their own behavior toward others. And at the very least, those feelings should prompt one to question if they’d be okay receiving the same treatment. If not, action should follow.
By listening, we learn, and as humans, feelings should follow. Those feelings should help an individual to determine what actions they should take, even if that means looking a little more closely at themselves and changing their own behavior toward others.
Is there any last words you might have for us about Black Lives Matter or LGBTQ+ discrimination?
Get involved. Help to put an end to this long, exhausting fight. We are all people. Every individual on this planet should be allowed to feel safe, should be treated equally, and should be valued as a living being. Every voice counts. Is the world hearing yours?
Before you go, I have to ask, can we expect any new books from you in the future?
Absolutely! I’m currently working on a project, and like Born This Way, it’s dark and touches on painful, real-world issues. I don’t want to say much about it, but I will say, I was inspired by the recent, horrific, unfortunate tragedies that have taken place in our country.
Where can people find you online?
My books are sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble’s online store, and various online book stores. You can connect with me here:
Thank you so much to Tammy for taking the time to do this interview. If you're interested in learning more about Tammy check her out at any of the links above. You can find her book here.