Mixing genres: alumna to release three novels in one day

Mya Douglas found her calling as a novelist after taking a children’s writing course.

Mya Douglas, a 2007 journalism alumna, will publish three books on April 4. Two of the books are co-written celebrity memoirs and one is the first novel of a young-adult series. COURTESY ARDELL MCDUFFIE

When Mya Douglas was in first grade, she wrote a book about two talking dogs.

She asked an artistic classmate to illustrate the story, offering 25 cents per picture. Even then, Douglas said she recognized her passion for creative writing.

“I think that’s when it really bit me,” Douglas said.

On April 4, Douglas, a Tioga native and 2007 journalism alumna, is publishing three books on a single day. She will also hold a book signing from noon to 2 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble on Broad Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

Two of Douglas’ upcoming books are co-written celebrity memoirs. “Before Empire: Raising Bryshere ‘Yazz the Greatest’ Gray” tells the story of Andria Mayberry, the mother of “Empire” actor Bryshere Gray, both of whom are from Philadelphia. “S.E.A.L.: Sex, Entertainment & Lies” is a biography of Londell “Nikko London” Smith, a star on the reality television series “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.”

Her fictional book, “Battling Brelyn,” is a young-adult novel about a teenager living with lupus. The novel is the first book in “The Clover Chronicles,” a series that will focus on the impact of different social issues on teens. Douglas said the second book in the series will examine sex trafficking.

Douglas said she never anticipated all three of her release dates would overlap.

“It comes off like it was planned, but it really wasn’t,” Douglas said. “The books were ready, the covers were ready, [my publisher] loved the presentation.”

SD Green is Douglas’ publisher and a senior consultant at The TMG Firm, a New York City consulting firm and independent book publisher. Green said Douglas’ accomplishment is especially unusual because she’s publishing both fiction and nonfiction books at the same time.

“Authors typically do not release multiple books in that kind of way in different genres,” Green said.

After she graduated from Temple, Douglas earned her master’s in creative writing from Arcadia University in 2010. During her studies, Douglas said she took her first children’s writing course, where she discovered her calling as a novelist.

“It was the writing for children class that changed everything for me,” Douglas said. “That was when I decided that I was going to write young adult, middle-grade, picture books,”

Her professor, Gretchen Haertsch, said Douglas was very “single-minded” about the direction of her career.

“She just had really good goal-setting skills, was able to work independently and was very good at networking,” Haertsch said. “That equals success.”

Since then, Douglas has published an anthology, a nonfiction writing guide and several novels. She said she strives to portray important topics in her fiction, particularly within her new Clover Chronicles series.

“There’s a lot of teens that suffer from lupus that people just don’t know,” Douglas said. “I wanted to write a story that touched on real-life issues.”

Coupled with her focus on social problems, Douglas said she wants to emphasize positive African-American representation.

“Even when it’s fiction, I want there to be a great positive depiction of the African-American woman and the African-American family, period,” Douglas said.

Sam Jaffe, a former adjunct journalism professor, taught Douglas in Magazine Article Writing in Fall 2006. Jaffe said while many of his students shied away from asking questions about their writing, Douglas always enthusiastically sought criticism of her work.

“After class, she would come up to me and just go over every word of what she wrote,” Jaffe said. “She was by far my favorite student that I taught in the four or five years that I taught at Temple.”

Douglas said her biggest goal is to write books that entire families can enjoy. She fondly remembers watching TV shows like “Family Matters” during her childhood, but said children today have far fewer family-oriented entertainment options.

“I could sit down with my mom and watch TV back in the day,” Douglas said. “Now you can’t really do that because there’s no more family shows.”

“I’m definitely hoping [the Clover Chronicles] is one that moms and daughters can be like, ‘We read that together,’” she said.

Ian Walker can be reached at ian.walker@temple.edu or on Twitter @ian_walker12.

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