It wasn’t that long ago that journalist, radio personality and activist Raqiyah Mays was doing battle down in the trenches of the entertainment industry here at The Shadow League as our head of entertainment. But with time comes growth and since her departure, our good friend has rekindled her love for broadcast radio as a personality over at WBLS in New York and completed her first novel "The Man Curse" on Simon & Schuster to great fanfare.
The book’s protagonist is a young woman named Meena who is doing her very best to separate herself from her family’s legacy of husbandless, bitter matriarchs. Mays is currently on a whirlwind book tour across the Northeast but I was able to get her to slow down just a bit to talk about "The Man Curse," which has been showered with praise from the media. Check out the Q&A session below.
Ricardo A. Hazell: "The Man Curse" is being touted as fictional self-help. What’s the reception been like?
Raqiyah Mays: “I didn’t realize it was helping people until I started sending it out. It’s one thing sending it to friends and they’re like ‘Oh, it’s great’, because that’s what friends are supposed to do, but it wasn’t until I started sending it out to folks that I was given the raw, honest truth. It just began to resonate. It seemed like it was a common theme with a lot of women. It was women of all ages, interestingly. It wasn’t just women in their 20s or 50s. They were saying ‘This is me. I can relate to this character. I want her to win. I felt like this was my life.’ I was like ‘Wow, they get it! They get it!’
“What’s interesting is I’ve read it at a domestic violence shelter at a secret location. I couldn’t take pictures. It was packed with women; Asian women, Latino women, and at the end women were like ‘I know this story’ and this one woman told me this whole story about what her friend went through.”
RH: With a title like "The Man Curse," the meaning your book can easily be misconstrued. What has been some responses you’ve gotten from men who have read it.
RM: “The men that have read it seem to like it. They’re saying how they want to give it to their sister or their wife. But there are various thoughts from men. They would say they’re glad it’s not a man-bashing book, others looked at the relationship between Meena and her mother and lamented how sometimes as parents we inadvertently pass on our issues to our children because we haven’t figured out how to deal with them yet so they have to deal with them. He started talking about his relationship with his daughter, his family and his father. It made him think about the whole mental health thing and therapy. I didn’t write this for men, but to hear brothers say that, it really means a lot to me. It’s not just Black men. It’s White men as well.”
RH: And what of all the positive reviews thus far?
RM: “You know how it is with art? Digital media we can go in and edit. But I can’t change this book. I can’t go back, it’s out there in the world. But to hear all the positive reviews is reassuring.”
RH: There were also whispers of a movie or television deal before the book even dropped. What did that feel like?
RM: “It’s a dream come true! We know how it goes, Ricardo. Hollywood is filled with broken dreams. But it feels good to even know that there’s interest and to know that my dreams are manifesting. I’m all about naming it and claiming it. When you read between the lines of "The Man Curse" it’s about the power of the mind. What you believe will be. I’m all about goals, I’m all about vision boards, which is a little bit of me that I did put in Meena. Not everything in the book happened to me but you put pieces of yourself in your work, as all writers do. She’s about her visions and her goals and those things do manifest. I’m ecstatic, we’ll see where it goes. I’ve always known that this book would be in films. Don’t ask me how I know. I don’t know when it’s going to happen or how long it’s going to take, but it is going to happen. Hopefully, this is going to be the first of many.”
“I just want to create content out there that shows us, people of color, in a multitude of situations. Women can be sexual without being whores. Looking for love is universal thing. It’s not just a Black thing. My protagonist just happens to be Black, but these things happened to a lot of women. It’s important to show the world.”
RH: So what’s next for you and "The Man Curse"?
RM: “We’re planning on doing a national book tour. I’m really trying to get "The Man Curse" into as many hands as possible. It’s all about word of mouth.”
RH: What’s it like to be considered a relationship expert?
RM: “(laughter) I’m not an expert but I’m all about positive energy. That’s how I live my life and I’m very mindful of it. Tobe able to overcome your fear and put yourself out there to say ‘Buy my book!’ is a nerve wracking thing. It takes a lot of confidence. So, I can share but am I an expert in love? Oh, no! I have my ups and downs.”
"The Man Curse" was released to the public on November 18. You can purchase it at Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com and wherever books are sold.