Skip to content

An Interview with Latoya Ralliford

ralliford 1

Latoya grew up in Seattle but lived in the United Kingdom during adolescence. Latoya is a multi-talented writer with non-fiction, fiction, creative writing, and illustration expertise. She’s been a member of the African American Writers Association (AAWA) since 2019, hiatus from 2021 to 2024. Latoya’s publications include BLK Excellence—Return to the Eternal Self and KERNE Magazine.

KERNE Magazine was created to support the black community by teaching readers about the history of the African diaspora dating back to pre-colonialization. Additionally, it taught readers about spirituality and provided a spotlight for upcoming artists. As the founder, Latoya led this project as Editor-in-chief that supported writers and artists nationwide.

Many key black scholars inspired BLK Excellence: Return to the Eternal Self. Latoya hypothesized that by shifting the mindset of a community from destructive to constructive, the community could heal from generational psychological. This book was formulated around her hypothesis from the patterns discovered in spirituality, science, and historical data.

For the past three years, Latoya has moved away from producing non-fiction works and has progressed into the expansion of creative writing (notably, poetry) and fiction. Currently, Latoya is working on a fictional piece.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

“Suicide” is a story about empowerment and enlightenment through tragedy. Matthew and his companions find themselves trapped at a nexus point between multiple realities and planes. Time is running out for these characters to survive and escape a world filled with ancient gods and forgotten beasts.

During some years of hardship, my roommates at the time were suicidal. I, who had also been suffering from depression, had a theory to build a fictional concept that would help people in a self-destructive state of mind see beyond the pains that they were enduring. The original prologue was written and shown to my roommates, who reacted like I was expecting: “That’s crazy; why would they do that?” As a result of their reaction, they learn about their boundaries and their abilities to look past their problems.

Based on this outcome, I was inspired to continue writing this story, which could inspire people to see outside their box and perhaps look at things from a different perspective.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The first book’s title, Suicide, immediately came to me, but the series name took some time to figure out. The process of figuring out the series name (“Distant Lines“) included drawing out a list of titles and reviewing the different names for over a week. I settled on the name Distant Lines as a form of foreshadowing the adventures that Matthew will eventually face—that will help him gain a stronger sense of self in his empowerment.

Describe your dream book cover.

This series explores the idea that someone could manipulate spiritual energy to allow them to walk through different planes, space, and time. One idea for this book is to imagine the web connected to a mysterious island, symbolizing it as a nexus point. On the outskirts are vague images of monsters and spirits within the shadows. The other idea focuses more on the main character, Matthew, falling through a web with others trapped and bound, with reality debris shattered and falling.

Imagining the dream book cover is a tough one. All in all, it is a creative way to show a place outside of reality that people are trapped in. With that said, I am a fan of Alex Gray’s work.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

The soundtrack for this story would be very long, as it consists of most of the songs that have played in the background during the story’s construction. These songs include (but are not limited to):

“Beware,” “Change,” “Be Quiet and Drive,” and “Passenger” by Deftones

“Vicarious,” “Right in Two,” “Lateralus,” “Jambi,” “H,” and “Pneuma” by Tool

“The Package” by A Perfect Circle

“Major Crimes” and “Cyberpunk” by Health

“Aerials” by System of Down

“Black Hole Sun” by Sound Garden

“Teardrop” by Massive Attack

“Before I Forget” and “Sulfur” by Slipknot

If I were to choose a specific song as the theme song, it would be “Lateralus” by Tool or “Beware” by Deftones because both of these songs seem to talk about the things the main character is going through.

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

There are many survival guides, foraging books, and a few history books on different eras that I have gained inspiration from, notably:

Pacific Northwest Edible Plant Foraging by Willow Walsh

The God Theory by Bernard Haisch

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Mythical Creatures and Magical Beasts by Zayden Stone

Quantum Physics and the Power of the Mind by Nancy Patterson

Solitaire: Return to the Self by Anthony Storr

Downloads of the Nine by Matias Flury

I also read various linguistic books on different American dialects.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

In addition to writing fiction, I am a modest coordinator with a background in nonfiction writing, apparel design, and art and a student of anthropology and poetry. My background professions and hobbies are utterly different from my fictional writing because they are grounded in historical and ecological data collection, while my fictional projects are based on theories and ideas collected through observations.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I find pieces of inspiration everywhere. I have always been motivated to tell stories from before I can remember. The first book I ever wrote was when I was in first grade. I remember being inspired to write it after telling scary stories to my friends during our sleepovers.

My mother is another excellent source of inspiration. She put books in front of me since I opened my eyes. We often spent hours at the library every weekend. I remember the first day I got my library card; I felt like I had miraculously become an adult within an instant. I have been lucky to be in a hypercreative family, from my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents; at some point, each of my family members have been involved with various creative works from literature, art, and music to theater. Being exposed to so much talent helped me learn how to think outside the box and have the bravery to try new things.

Specifically, in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy literature, I am a fan of Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb, C.S. Friedman, Jonathan Swift, and numerous others. I am a fan of these authors because they brought me into their fictional worlds and showed me how to change my perspective of the reality that we reside in.

Where is your favorite place to write?

On a beautiful, slightly overcast day in the Pacific Northwest, I often like to go to one of the waterfront parks like Elliott Bay trail, Centennial Park and Alki. At the park with my bottle of water, I typically find inspiration in my stories, poems, or art when I watch the waves and the clouds roll in. I often write at home when it is too busy, too hot, or too cold.

Do you have any writing rituals?

When I have “writer’s block,” I usually do one of two things, which is to either go for a walk to change the environment or meditate to clear any intrusive thoughts blocking my creative energy.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

My “perfect reader” that I originally envisioned was depicted as someone who felt lost and needed help shifting their perspective. Over the past few years of writing this story, the character arch has changed, and what I want most is to create a story that leaves a memorable impact that leaves the reader contemplating possibilities they hadn’t considered before.

We are in a time when stories are constantly recycled to the point of predictability. While I cannot say I am the first to dream up this story arc, this story will help readers break away from predictability and be relatable.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

atmosphere press

Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.