Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Gia Parker was the second of four children. As a youth, Gia was always inquisitive and bright, walking at six months, and speaking her first word by eight months. Gia wrote endless pages of poetry and stories for her mother who called her, her “Doll baby”. A year after graduating high school, she decided to join the military. She traveled the world a few years and settled in San Antonio, Texas, where she now resides. While in the service, she began to model and established herself as CEO of Quil & Tongue Publishing.
She began to brainstorm her first novel, 16 Years 2 Life, the story of a young woman whose mother was sentenced to prison, and the trials and tribulations she suffered while venturing through life as child of a convicted felon. While still completing 16 Years 2 Life, Gia began her second novel, A Man Not of My Own, a novel of a woman in search for love within in her own culture not realizing that love had been staring at her for years, she just failed to realize it because of culture stereotypes.
You can learn more about Gia at her website.
Jaydah was a young girl born into a single family home to a loving strong mother, dedicated to instilling discipline into her young children. From a young age she had adult responsibilities. Her brother Dee had moved out to live with other relatives and she became the role model for her younger sister. They lived in a two bedroom apartment living pay check to pay check. Jaydah took care of her younger sister and her mother worked long hard hours. But together they were able to build a life of comfort and love. Jaydah’s mother soon realized that she was missing being close to her girls and decided to relocate. She began to work in a beauty shop and found herself in a new relationship. Things looked as if they would work out for the better, but the reality soon set in when Jaydah saw her mother being beaten for the first time. Her mother’s new boyfriend Reggie was a notorious drug dealer and most of all a womanizer. Jaydah was exposed to the life of drugs and prostitution at a young age. Her mother soon became pregnant with a son and her mother had found the strength to leave Reggie for good. Peace and serenity didn’t last long; her mother was keeping a deep dark secret that would tear the family apart. Jaydah was separated from her siblings and her mother went prison. It was up to Jaydah to find a way to keep the family together and be strong not only for herself but her family also. Even though her mother had been convicted of a crime, Jaydah and her siblings were imprisoned along with her. All souls of her soul, victims of guilty innocence.
Imagine the movie poster for your novel, 16 YEARS 2 LIFE. What's the logline, catchphrase on it?
Imprisoned by the justice system, bound by love, a victim of guilty innocence.
What was the spark that initiated the idea behind 16 YEARS 2 LIFE?
The spark that drove me to develop the novel was true life experiences, the love of a wonderful mother and strength gained from success with changing my life around.
Talk to us about the writing process for 16 YEARS 2 LIFE. Was it a fast write? Did you outline first or just sit and crank out the story?
It wasn’t a fast write at all. I sat down and began to just write starting from the earliest memory to current experiences.
When did you discover that you wanted to become a writer?
Becoming a writer wasn’t planned at all. 16 Years 2 Life is actually based on a true story. Yes the characters are changed and events tweaked, but it’s a story of my life. In the middle of 2006 after my deployment, I began to reflect on my life. I started to sit down and type and before I knew it I had a book. I struggled with myself on whether to publish it or not; thinking about some of the events that happened in my life were painful to recall. I spoke to my mother, who was still incarcerated at the time, and she was behind me one hundred percent. I didn’t quite know how I was going to put the book out and a few years passed. After my mother was released from prison, she consistently pushed me to keep my faith and go ahead with the book. I didn’t know if publishing it would rip my family apart or expose the truth and start the healing process. I met Tamika Newhouse in 2009. Her husband and I had been stationed together and he encouraged us to get together. Tamika took my fear and uncertainty and gave me the strength I needed to push my story out to the world. I’m truly grateful to God for placing her in my life. In 2010 I was ready to self publish. My new mentor, Tamika, introduced me to the literary world and showed me what I needed to do to finally publish my work. It was a long time coming.
What makes you stand out from the other authors in your genre?
I’m not by any means doing this for money. I published this novel as a promise to myself to get out the story of the children of prisoners. So many times we hear about the prisoner’s story and how hard it is for them to reintegrate back into society, but we never discuss the children that have suffered at the hands of their parents and the judicial system. Yes, when a person is guilty they are guilty. But we offer no counseling or rehabilitation for these broken children and families out there. We just lock people up, forget about them, forget about the families that are dealing and then wonder why we have generations of thieves and murderers following in the footsteps of loved ones. That was my initial purpose and I think that’s what makes me stand out from other authors. I have lived and bled my novel. My desire to publish more arose from the joy and satisfaction I found in completing 16 Years 2 Life.
What do you want readers to get from your debut novel, 16 Years to Life?
I want readers to hear the story of broken children all around the world that may not have the resources or education to get out there and tell their story. They might be scared, suffering all types of abuse by their care takers. I want my story to be another story to reveal the topic that society has never really addressed, “What happens to the children?" We have some prisons where women can be with their small children, but what about the teenagers and other children in need of their parents, especially their mothers. Too many women are being abused by society and family members, having no place to turn and not valuing themselves. Some find the strength to use their pain in a positive way but what about the others that slip through the cracks? What about those young women growing up in those neighborhoods less fortunate of counseling and education becoming statistics of society, that’s the question I want to start to get people to ask.
As a teen what inspired you the most in your writings?
As a teenager I actually did a lot of poetry. Of course, growing up in the conditions that I did left me withdrawn and mostly lonely so I expressed it through poetry. I never wanted anyone to know that my mother was in prison and of course my father was absent, like most, so I escaped to different worlds through books and my poetry.
What is your next project?
My next project is titled A Man Not of Her Own. I don’t want to give away too much just yet, but I want to get into the minds of our black women and touch on the subject of dating outside of our race. Black men have been doing it for years and many of them are quite comfortable with it. But, for some reason black women are not and many get so angry when they see a black man with a woman of another race. I won’t let much out so you will have to just wait and see how the book unfolds.
What do you feel society will say about Gia Parker’s novels?
In all honesty I am open to whatever society has to say about my novels. Whether the reaction is positive or negative, feedback is always a good thing. I am doing what I feel is right and sharing it with those who want to hear. I hope that society would embrace my novels and understand them. I write to pose questions. My books are not the regular novels filled with sex and lust, but they do address many things that are pertinent. So I welcome feedback; it can only make me stronger.
What is the most important component of a story for you--why?
The letters are the most important to me. Through the letters you can see the love and communication between a mother and daughter. You also can see the pain that separated them also.
Who is one of your favorite writers, and how does he/she inspire you as a writer?
I never have favorite writers. I read books based on topics. I have mostly all of Omar Tyree’s novels and Sista Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever is one of my favorites.
Gia Parker: The Writer, The Soundtrack -- what styles of music are often played while you're performing literary magic?
Anything that is smooth. I listen to anything from gospel to neo soul.
Word Association. What comes to mind when you see the following words:
16 YEARS 2 LIFE: Accomplishment
RELATIONSHIPS: Worth while struggles
WRITING: creative blessing
GIA PARKER: Strength