Brittney Holmes is a recent graduate from Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia, where her outstanding GPA earned her the title of Salutatorian of her senior class. For her outstanding academic and extracurricular status, she is recognized in Who’s Who Among High School Students. A gifted journalist, Brittney is a youth contributing writer for Global Woman magazine. Published through Urban Books (Urban Christian imprint), her debut novel, Living Consequences gained recognition from the African American Literary Awards Show where she received the 2007 Open Book Award for Best Young Adult Fiction of the Year. Her second novel, Testing Relationships, was released in June 2008. In addition to reading and writing novels, Brittney has also authored several poems addressing the subjects of Christianity, peer pressure, and social issues. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, singing, dancing, listening to music, shopping, and spending time with her family and friends. In the fall of 2008, Brittney will enroll as a full-time student at the University of Georgia in Athens, where she plans to major in journalism. Brittney currently resides in Stone Mountain, Georgia, with her parents, Jonathan Bellamy and Kendra Norman-Bellamy and her younger sister, Crystal.
Fill in the blank: “Reading TESTING RELATIONSHIPS will cause you to laugh, cry, and even get angry, but it will also teach you what it means to put your complete faith and trust in God.“
I know that TESTING RELATIONSHIPS is the sequel to your debut novel, LIVING CONSEQUENCES. Did you always plan to write a sequel, or did the characters of LIVING CONSEQUENCES stick with you?
I fell in love with the characters from Living Consequences and couldn’t get them out off of my mind once I finished the book. It was almost an involuntary decision when I began writing the sequel Testing Relationships. Like most readers when they finished reading my first book, I wanted to know what was going to happen with Nevaeh, Ronald, Sierra, Marques, and Shimone after they’d received salvation. Would things be peachy keen, or would they continue to live life as they had been before they made the spiritual change? I realized in writing the sequel that neither would occur and that, like most new Christians, these characters would experience hardships in dealing with their faith. I wanted to illustrate those hardships within Testing Relationships.
What’s your favorite thing about TESTING RELATIONSHIPS?
I would have to say that my favorite thing about Testing Relationships is that the characters are as real as you or me. The situations they allow themselves to get into, the way they decide to handle them, the decisions their faced with making, and the lives that they lead are mirror images of someone in the real world. So the story, though labeled fiction, is truly real.
What are three adjectives that best describe TESTING RELATIONSHIPS?
Testing Relationships is dramatic, exciting, and empathetic.
What are three adjectives that best describe YOU?
I am intelligent, goal-oriented, and blessed.
What have you done or what do you plan to do – as author – to promote TESTING RELATIONSHIPS?
Promoting my work is probably the hardest thing about being an author, but I do my best to do what it takes in order to promote Testing Relationships. Since its release, I’ve traveled the country to meet with book clubs, posted updates concerning my writings online, and passed around my online interviews so that my family, friends, and colleagues are able to remain informed about my work. I plan to continue to promote myself and my writings by attending any events that will provide networking opportunities.
You wrote LIVING CONSEQUENCES at the age of 16; what propelled you at this young age to write a novel?
Actually, I wrote Living Consequences when I was 14 and a freshman in high school. The book was actually published when I was 16. I was divinely inspired to write the book because before I physically sat down before my computer and began typing, I had no preconceived idea to write a book. I had planned on writing a journal for my own personal use and the story turned into something I had no intentions of creating. It was apparent that God had placed the story of Living Consequences in me so that I can share it and its message with the world.
What was life like being a published author and a teenager with the normal teenager activities and life?
The only difference between me, being a published author, and me, before becoming a published author, is that I get to travel around to various places and events, promoting my books and meeting people I’d never even thought of meeting before. This career had definitely made my life a little more exciting and fun…and busy! I love the career, but I also love being able to do normal teenage activities and sometimes the two may clash. I have to do a lot of picking and choosing when it comes to hanging out with friends or going to a fellow author’s literary event that could open up closed doors. It can get intimidating, but I know that this is something God placed in me to do and it’s something I love.
Was it always part of the plan to integrate Christian living into the novel?
Yes, it was always a part of the plan to integrate Christian living into my novels because my spirituality is a part of me. I feel that since God was gracious enough to bless me with the gift and the opportunity to be able to influence many, I’d use it to glorify and bless Him. I write from my experiences and from the experiences of those around me and try to show readers how they can conquer life by using simple faith-based tactics.
Both LIVING CONSEQUENCES and TESTING RELATIONSHIPS are strong works of Christian fiction; do you believe that you’ll continue writing works that are reflective of the Christian faith?
Yes, all of the novels I will write will continue to reflect the Christian faith. Because I was raised on Christian morals and values, my writing reflects what I know. All of my books deal with realistic issues that teens and young adults face in today’s society, but the lessons learned are faith-based. And according to feedback from my readers, my novels, regardless of the spiritual connection, are easy to connect with and have shown them that regardless of what they may be going through, they are never alone. Since I know this works and I’m transferring God’s messages to the world, I’ll continue to use Him as my clutch when writing.
Inside your MP3 PLAYER: What three tracks MUST you listen to these days?
Just three? Okay…I would definitely have to say Keyshia Cole’s Heaven Sent is a must! Also, Alicia Keys’s Teenage Love Affair and one of my favorite songs, Love Him Like I Do by Deitrick Haddon featuring Ruben Studdard and Mary Mary.
Brittney Holmes: THE SOUNDTRACK! What three tracks would make it onto a soundtrack of your life, and why?
Never Would Have Made It by Marvin Sapp would definitely make it onto the soundtrack because without God, I wouldn’t be here nor would I be able to get through any of life’s obstacles. Fantasia’s I Believe would also make the cut because it talks about reaching your highest potential and believing in what you can become. And finally, just because it’s my favorite song in the whole world, Ribbon in the Sky by Stevie Wonder would probably be on the soundtrack to illustrate my relationship with whatever man God has created for me.
Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do they inspire you as a writer?
Of course, Kendra Norman-Bellamy, my mother, is one of my favorite writers. She inspires me the most because she took her lifelong passion and favorite pastime and made it into a career that has been more successful than most because she decided to put her faith in God and do what He has called her to do. Victoria Christopher Murray is also a favorite of mine because she is a phenomenal writer and doesn’t mind taking risks in creating her stories and she has taught me that there’s nothing wrong with me doing the same. Jacqueline Thomas and Tia McCollors are also authors who create realistic stories that inspire me to tap deeper into my own creativity when writing.
Dream-on: You’ve just been told that someone wants to turn TESTING RELATIONSHIPS into a movie. Who would play Shimone, Marques, Nevaeh, Ronald, Imani, and Sierra?
Wow! If only I could get a call from someone who would like to turn my novels into a movie, I’d definitely have a line up for them. Raven Symoné would be an almost perfect match for Shimone; the multi-talented Columbus Short could play Marques; Joy Bryant would be a good candidate to play Nevaeh; Ronald would be played by the handsome Derek Luke; Imani could be played by Keke Palmer; and Meagan Good would best portray Sierra.
What’s currently going on in your WRITING LIFE?
As of right now, I’m trying to finish a manuscript that I’ve been working on for the past year. I’m not sure if it’s flowing how I want it to, so I may stop where I’m am in writing it and start all over from chapter one. However, I just submitted my third novel, “Grace and Mercy,” to my publishers and if things go well, it will be released in the coming year or so.