For my Diary of a Natural Gal Style Files interview, I worked with an amazing crew to shoot the pictures. The photographer was Garen Hagobian and the stylist was Rico Cherry. I can’t wait to post the full interview here. Here is an excerpt:
Kisha Roby: I would describe your style as sultry school boy, where do you draw inspiration?
Victor Yates: Is that a good thing (laughs)? I use to only wear black and gray. That’s it. Then my best friend started picking out clothes for me that I wouldn’t normally wear. I went from school boy realness to wearing cowboy boots, with khaki linen cut off shorts, and shirts and sweaters from the 80’s. I love 80’s Adidas shorts, vintage designer clothes, and conversation pieces. Today so many things inspire me. I like patterns, textures, and bold colors and mixing things together that the average person might think is strange. Since moving to Los Angeles my thrift store obsession has grown. Buffalo Exchange and Wasteland are my top thrift stores in L.A. But out here thrift stores are like coffee shops.
Kisha Roby: When did your passion for writing begin? What is your ultimate dream for your writing career?
Victor Yates: I started writing poetry at 14, after reading Maya Angelou’s work. I loved libraries and would read a lot. Also, my mother loved books and she would buy books for me as well. I remember trying to read The Firm, by John Grisham, and not being able to understand it. I hope to write quality fiction books and venture into short stories and writing plays.
Reading Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise made me want to be a poet at 14. I wrote silly poems, kept in a 3-ring binder, and read them to anyone who listened. By the time I started college, at 18, majoring in English (Poetry, Creative Writing, or Journalism) wasn’t an option. Computer Science was an option. Why I don’t know? I knew how to surf the web so I guess I thought Computer Science was the perfect major. Intro to Computer Science was the class I dropped fastest in college. The class was taught by an African man with a thick accent. For the first twenty minutes of class I thought he was teaching Swahili. After class I tried to read the book. It was like reading a foreign language. Circuits. Performing simple calculations. Systems. Programming. Those words were Swahili, meaningless to me. I went into panic mode. What major do I choose now? I chose Psychology. Psychology equals research and writing. I had papers due every week. My earliest lessons in “how-to write” came from my psychology instructors. One lesson that has always stayed with me is “Give Them What They Need” or make every word deliberate and on purpose.
It wasn’t until after graduating from college that I thought about writing as a potential career. I was living in Ann Arbor, working at a library, submerging myself in reading “good fiction” and “good authors.” Shelving books one day on the third floor I discovered the “How To Write” section. I pulled one off the bookshelf. Two years later I started writing The Taste of Scars.
A “good job” moved me from Ann Arbor to Jacksonville. I got the opportunity to teach part-time at a career college and slowly walked away from the “good job.” A year in I was promoted to full-time and never went back to the “good job.”
Fast forward a year. My boss and I at the career college got into a heated argument. She told me she was changing my position from full-time to part-time. I told her thanks but no thanks and verbally submitted my two weeks notice. Not even two hours later I was unemployed. Since that day (up until March 2011) I devoted almost every waking hour to editing my book. I started to see life differently. Every hour I was at work, doing work that didn’t make me happy, I lost an hour to do what really made me happy, writing.
To all the high school seniors graduating this year. Don’t major in computer science because you think it’ll pay the bills. Major in life. Found out what really makes you happy. I took me a long time to figure that out.