Tanisha Pettiford is the most fascinating interview since The Lounge opened its doors. This creative mind and owner of her graphic artist business, "Kreative Solutions by Mahogani" have impressed the literary world. Pettiford's ability to create original artistry without formal training is truly God-given -- and that's not her only talent.

This Maryland resident also uses the pen name as "Eboni Chase". She has already penned a couple of titles, including her anticipated future release, "Voices in the Dark" -- a powerful story about mental illness. 

But what impress me is Tanisha's passion on societal issues. Few authors would stray from controversial topics, but not her. She speaks her mind, and wishes for everyone to take change seriously and not just talk the talk, or walk the walk; but rather, be it.

Imani: Before we begin the interview, let me say how excited I am that you're in The Lounge. Now without further ado, tell the readers a little background of yourself -- who is Tanisha Pettiford? 

Tanisha: Thank you so much for having me and giving me the opportunity for this interview. Hmm, Tanisha Pettiford. Who is she? Well, she’s a Mother. A Wife. A self-learner. Sensitive yet strong. She’s a team player. She loves to motivate and inspire others to go after their dreams. She’s a go-getter. Loves to educate those willing to learn. She loves to create things from inspiration and loves to write.

Besides being a gifted author, you are also a talented graphic artist, along with a business called, "Kreative Solutions by Mahogani", tell us more about that -- what is its mission?

Kreative Solutions by Mahogani was established to assist Authors and Business owners on a budget. I didn’t set out to be a graphic designer, but I love to create. I love to put colors and themes together. The goal is to create brands for individuals that represent their brand or vision but don’t break their pockets.

So, how did you fall into the craft as graphic designer?

I designed my first book cover and everyone loved it. I learn something new everyday, designing came easy for me so I just learned more and more everyday.

Since I've known you, I've come to respect and admire your innovative spirit. With that said, your pen name fit you like a glove; it goes well with your personality. What made you decide to use "Eboni Chase" as a pen name?

First thank you so much. I originally had “Mahogani” as a pen name, and as life would have it, after enduring some hardships, betrayals, and a layoff, I grew. Not only as a person but as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a writer and a business woman. Eboni Chase just spoke to me. It stuck. The name screams, “Here I am.” She has so much to say and so much to share.

Now let's talk about your writing. Your upcoming novel, Voices in the Dark, talks of an issue many know too well, which is mental illness. Admittedly, the subject hits close to home as I've been diagnosed with clinical depression years ago. So, share with readers what inspired you to write this book?

Voices in The Dark was inspired by abuse my mom went through growing up. Though, she never suffered from mental illness, the emotional part of it effected her later on in life. Also things I’ve witnessed while living in North Carolina also inspired this book. So it covers a lot about physical abuse, emotional abuse, and abandonment between a mother and a daughter.

I want to go further with this topic, because mental illness has become a mere taboo in the Black community. Why do think that's so? Is it fear of being ostracized? Or, relying too heavily on religion instead of trusting the mental health community?

I think it has a lot to do with fear of being ostracized. I don’t think it’s about religion at all. But the fear of being excluded from your own community or even family can be frightening. Surprisingly, there are more help and resources about domestic violence than there is mental illness and until we speak up, this will continue.

This is a question I ask to most of my guest: Are you character or plot driven, and why?

I am character driven. I used to be plot driven until I realized that I myself am always changing. I love writing stories about overcoming and learning to live again.

"But the fear of being excluded from your own community or even family can be frightening. Surprisingly, there are more help and resources about domestic violence then there is mental illness and until we speak up, this will continue."

What's your methodology of a solid character?

I will study and list all attributes of my characters before actually starting my novel. Something I learned to do with my second book.  It helps with my character development. In order to have a solid character, you must have some real attributes.

Please share with us a brief description of your titles and their main characters.

My first book “The Soul of Toya Daniels” main character is Toya Daniels. She is strong, confident, loves her family and has a business sense that can beat any man in the boardroom.  My second book which is a short story, is “Sweet Revenge” where the main character Lacey moved to a new state, new place and new position to get over her ex in which he never gotten over her.

Of all of your characters, which one you would like to give a one-on-one interview and why?

Toya Daniels! Hands down! She is a woman after my own heart. She takes no mess from anyone yet she is the most giving. She’s intriguing, sexy and well educated. She would be fun to interview.

Okay, I have to ask you the next couple of questions because you're very opinionated when it comes to social issues, like me, which is good; I love the honesty. So I won't ask your initial response when Ferguson's prosecutor read the grand jury's response. I'm sure you have had thousands of emotions swimming inside of you. I would like to know where do we go as a community? How can we bridge the gap between the police and its citizens?  

Use your voice. Your voice is your power. Unless we are united in one voice and speak collectively on the real issues at hand, nothing will change. Protest peacefully if that’s what helps. But be a voice. There’s so much power in speaking out that we don’t even realize. Start something positive towards a change. But again, until we do that, and if we remain quiet, nothing will change.

What's new for "Tanisha Y. Pettiford" in the new year?

Two New fiction Novels, My memoir, An Inspiring T-Shirt line, inspiring motivational events, a new blog, and a community magazine.

"Use your voice. Your voice is your power. Unless we are united in one voice and speak collectively on the real issues at hand, nothing will change."

Tell us one thing you haven't shared with your readers. It can be a quirk, a favorite food, or a hidden talent. The floor is yours.

I love to bake and learn new recipes to try.  I also have a love for different hairstyles, nail designs and hair products. I love to read motivational books as well.

Now on a relaxed note: If you were to plan a dinner party and have extended the guest list with three legendary figures (living or not), who would they be and what one question you would ask them?  

Oh wow! Good question! My top would be Oprah Winfrey, Sidney Poitier, and Beyonce. I would love to ask simply, “What life lesson motivated you for the better?”

Thank you, Tanisha! This has been an awesome interview. Please share with the readers where they can purchase your work, as well as seeking professional services for graphic designing?

Thank you so much! Well for all of my books  “The Soul of Toya Daniels and Sweet Revenge” you can purchase on Amazon Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Google Play format (paperbacks coming in January). For any professional services you can visit my website: www.kreativesolutionsbymahogani.com

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