A Woman of Many Talents, Raqiyah Mays Sets Sights On Taking Over Fiction
Success, like a fine wine takes time and patience to both happen and appreciate. Anything that comes too easy or without some sort of struggle or sacrifice most likely won’t be around for a long time. In the modern age of immediate gratification of the “Get It Now Generation,” we’re starting to lose sight of long term goals in favor of what we can have now. More than likely if something takes too long or doesn’t happen within our expected timeframe then many of us get frustrated and lose all hope of ever achieving greatness.
It took the last 10 years of one woman’s life to craft her literary masterpiece, a revolutionary book to help the modern woman in need. With the launch of her debut novel, The Man Curse, author/journalist/activist/radio personality Raqiyah Mays hopes to inspire women to take charge of their relationships by empowering them to make their own course in life. Taking a break from her busy schedule, Raqiyah Mays was able to sit down with us at Parlé to discuss her book and career.
Parlé Magazine: You’ve been in the entertainment industry for a long time. Can you tell the readers about your days as a radio personality?
Raqiyah Mays: I was on Hot 97 in New York for five years, I had a Sunday show on there. I would combine Hip-Hop with social issues and my commentary about what’s going in the world. One of the founders of a magazine I was an executive editor on called The Ave, which was a Hip-Hop social issue magazine heard my stuff, he wanted to come write for them which I did for five years. Five seems to be my lucky number but I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of interesting people and have my hands in a lot of things that helped me get my voice across.
Parlé: When you started college you were going to be a lawyer, what changed your mind?
Raqiyah Mays: I honestly feel to this day I would have been a great lawyer. I majored in economics and minored in English at Penn State but I had such a jones for music that I realized I wanted to do radio. At the time, Penn State only played country music, which wasn’t my voice. I was so into Hip-Hop at the time and what it was all about, I just knew I wanted to be a part of it. I transferred to Hampton to get a degree in communications. My mother wasn’t happy at first but if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t have gotten an internship at Vibe. Everything happens for a reasons and it’s just funny where life takes you.
Parlé: When you were younger you had difficulty speaking, can you tell us about that?
Raqiyah Mays: I had a speech impediment, I stuttered. I always loved reading but when it came to speaking I had thoughts jumbled in my head. I couldn’t get it out, I had to be told to slow down and take my time in order to get my words out. I was placed in a remedial class for reading in the first class. I remember the teacher staring at me because I couldn’t get through the passage without stuttering. With my mother’s help, I was able to work my way up to an advanced class.
Parlé: How did your family impact your life?
Raqiyah Mays: When it comes to family, I come from a family of boot strappers. We strap up our boots do what needs to be done. There’s a sense of a value, dedication and loyalty to the task at hand when we apply ourselves. We’ve always been hard workers.
Parlé: Moving on to your newly released debut novel, tell us about The Man Curse?
Mays: The Man Curse explains generational curses, which are actually mentioned in the bible. When I say that Man Curse explores this, it talks about a young professional woman trying to break the cycle of becoming the first woman in her family to ever marry. The curse in the book is based on the fact that her great great aunt slept with the church pastor and she was told that none of the women in that family would ever marry as punishment. It links to the real world because a lot of women and even gay men feel cursed into a cycle of dysfunctional relationships they are in.
Parlé: What do you hope readers take away from reading this?
Mays: The book can be labeled as self-help fiction because it explores the journey of a fictional main character. I’d like to think of it as an uphill climb to find oneself and not at all about a man. It’s about being able to attract a healthy relationship and discover self worth. We may not be able to see it now but some of us are attracting the same type of person and we wonder why, it could be based on what we’ve seen growing up or how we were raised but The Man Curse looks to break that cycle. I wrote in the perspective of a fictional main character but a lot of it is based on my life experiences.
Parlé: Can what’s being applied within this book be helpful to men as well?
Mays: Men that have read the book have liked it but suggested that their sister/mother/aunt/cousin/whomever read the book. The title may come off a bit man-bashing but it’s not about that. The men that are reading it are appreciative of it because they know that a lot of the time a good guy is overlooked but that’s not because of what they’re doing. The woman may have a lot of things going on with her that distracts her from what’s good for her due to personal issues. I am appreciative that men who have read it can see the meaning behind it.
Parlé: Why do you think there’s such a need/rush to get married and/or start a family for women?
Mays: It’s how we’re socialized. They teach us these fairy tales when we’re young and we expect to live up to them. We’re often socialized to feel that if we haven’t accomplished a certain goal by XYZ age then we’re a failure. Everyone has their own path.
Parlé: What was the creative process like on this book?
Mays: It took me ten years to finish this book and get it out there. Someone told me they saw an interview of me from six years ago saying The Man Curse was coming soon. As an artist we put a lot of irons in the fire but life tends to get in the way. Sometimes something doesn’t always come out when we want it. It’s important to figure out your process and routine. When I moved to LA in 2011, it helped me focus on finishing the novel.
Parlé: What’s been the hardest part of your journey?
Mays: The two hardest things so far for me have been focus and fear. A lot of times when life gets in the way we may lose focus of our goals but I was able to stay focused on mine despite the setbacks. The fear that what I write/put out may not be good enough or misunderstood, I was lucky enough to find out that there are a lot of people who think like I do.
Parlé: Are you connected to social media?
Mays: Yes, everything is @RaqiyahMays, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even my LinkedIn. As long as you spell my name right, you can find me.
Parlé: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Mays: A writer writes, just do it. If all you can do is write a sentence a day then just do that. Stop feeling like you have to limit yourself, runners don’t run a marathon and look back at how far they ran. Just keep doing it and move forward.
The Man Curse was released on November 16th. You can get it online at digital readers such as barnesandnobles.com or amazon.com, you can get it on your iPhone or table. It’s a fast joyous read that many people can appreciate.
Be sure to follow Raqiyah Mays on social media to find out when she’s coming near you and be sure to pick up The Man Curse online and at a bookstore near you.