Imani Wisdom's brainchild -- Pink Noire Publications -- has been known for her unpredictable style of storytelling. Now its founder is expanding the "pink and black" brand to shine on prolific artists. From the inspirationalist, Danica Worthy to bestselling author, Stacy Deanne, Pink Noire understand these talented individuals know how to express their craft through words, song, dance, and stroke of a brush.

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Gracious. Gritty. Gifted. 

The three-G's that fits this Bronx resident. 

Michelle Cuttino is no stranger to the literary world. She's a blogger; a book reviewer for the popular African American on the Move Book Club (AAMBC), a columnist for several magazines, including Proud Times Magazine; a CEO of Big Body Publishing; an Executive Producer for Big Body Broadcasting, which owns three shows under her belt -- and from the looks of it, Michelle is not slowing down. 

Affectionately known as "The Queen of Plus-Size Fiction", Cuttino has become a role model to many women. The belief she carries, which hold true to her heart, is to use her storytelling ability to represent the "underrepresented" portion of this country -- the size 14 and up. 

For someone like Cuttino, her infectious personality will rub off on you. A smile will gleam from her natural humor, or find yourself inspired from her words of encouragement; that's just who she is: the woman with the "unapologetic strength"

Imani: Pink Noire is proud to present, "The Queen of Plus-Size Fiction", columnist, and radio show host, Michelle Cuttino to The Lounge -- welcome. Before we proceed, tell us what makes "Michelle Cuttino" the woman who she is today?

Michelle: Thank you for having me. I was raised by strong matriarchs who led by example. They taught me the importance of education, generosity, and humility. Growing up, I was too fat to be skinny and too skinny to be fat. I learned from a young age I was beautiful no matter what, and I could not let my size define me.On the outside, I was one of the cool kids, who talked back to her teachers and cut classes. On the inside, I was a bookworm and nerd who played the viola, violin, and cello. I was confident and clever enough to never let my two worlds collide, and I am pretty much the same today. No one anticipates the level of professionalism and knowledge I possess, so I keep them guessing. With me, you never know what to expect.

 I love the name "Queen of Plus-Size Fiction". To me, it represents unapologetic strength. So what's the story behind it?

My parents taught me the key to success is doing something you love, and getting paid for it. My passion is writing. With writing, I was told you must write what you know. Incorporating the two concepts, I decided to write fiction geared towards the plus-size population. I am a full-figured woman, who loves the skin I’m in. My characters personify me as well as those I encounter in my daily surroundings. I always felt if I was going to do anything, I needed to do it bigger and better than the competition.  In order to reign effectively, rulers assume a title. My title is the Queen of Plus-Size Fiction.

Your latest title, "Love and Happiness", has received favorable reviews since its release in October. And from what I read, your character conveys the realism of today's African American woman. So tell us of Roxanne Linden. What's the inspiration behind the character?

Roxanne Linden is my alter ego. She is bold and sassy, with just a hint of tramp. My goal was to write a character who is aware of herself, and is not afraid to be exactly who she is. Everyone faces moments of uncertainty, or finds themself in compromising situations. Roxanne is no different. Strong black women are often negatively stereotyped. With Roxanne, my mission was to show the vulnerable side of a woman who appears to have it all together on the outside.

How much research did you have to conduct before writing the book?

I didn’t have to conduct any research, because I wrote what I knew. I kept the storyline and the characters within my own reality, so they would be believable and likeable. In my opinion, if you write from a place of authenticity, there is no need tostudy.

During the writing process, do you outline by chapters or you go with the flow?

I’m somewhat of a free spirit, and it is mirrored in my writing. I wouldn’t begin to know how to write by an outline; that’s not the way stories come to me. When I sit down to write, it’s like an out-of-body experience. My body is the vessel my characters use to tell their stories. They talk, and I type. I have no say so in the matter.

That cliche, You learn something new everyday. While writing this book, what self-discovery have you learned about yourself?

I learned I am a great storyteller. More importantly, I learned I can spin a tale about a plus-size woman without emphasizing the obvious, and have readers relate to her just as they do the skinny heroines of other novels. One’s physical makeup should not be their defining quality. I know plenty of ugly “beautiful” people. A person can easily camouflage their flaws, so you should judge them for what’s behind the mask.

Let's switch gears and talk about your other gifts. You are a successful radio host for the blog talk, bi-monthly show, "The Q-Spot with Big Body" and you co-host another show with Stephanie "Big Sexy" Adkins called, "The My Big Girl Panties Show, and you're an Executive Producer for the monthly show, "A Different Kind of Love" hosted by, J'son M. Lee. You are one busy woman; and yet a woman with a vision. Explain to the readers how your vision for these shows came to pass.

Each show is unique in its own way. The Q-Spot with Big Body began under Julia Press Simmons’ QMBX Radio. When she cancelled QMBX Radio, I decided to revamp my show and bring my followers to my own network, Big Body Broadcasting. Like my brand, the network caters to niche audiences.

The Q-Spot with Big Body is for authors and entrepreneurs looking to gain additional promotion for their products and new releases. A Different Kind Of Love is a monthly show that affirms the diversity and universality of love. Hosted by J'son M. Lee, the show serves to nurture and honor LGBT persons and their significance within their families and communities.The My Big Girl Panties Show is my baby, and its mission is to embrace, enlighten, and empower the plus-size population.

Your eBook series, "Me and Mrs. Jones" was an adaptation from a screenplay optioned for legendary rapper, actress, and former talk show host, Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit Films. How did this opportunity fall into your lap?

What many don’t know is I started out writing screenplays. I have ten completed manuscripts in my library, in addition to Me& Mrs. Jones. Back then, Latifah had just started her Flavor Unit Films production company, and was in search of scripts. I queried, and the rest is history. They optioned the screenplay twice, but the story never made it to the big screen. Since I believed it in so much, I decided to turn it into an eBook series.

You are a woman that stays on her mission, so I'm sure you have plenty in store for 2015. However, you have an erotic anthology set to release this year under a high-profile author. Tell the readers more about this venture.

First, I am super excited to be part of the anthology, which will be released under Zane’s Strebor/Simon & Schuster imprint. Initially, bestselling author N’Tyse was looking for entries for an anthology she was going to release under her own A Million Thoughts Publishing imprint. I entered the contest, and my short was one of those selected. Months later it was revealed she had submitted the anthology to Zane, and again, the rest is history.

Okay...I, on occasion, have read some of your posts online. Some are truly inspirational and some are thought-provoking, but most of them are humorous. I all ways wanted to ask this: Is comedy one of your hidden talents?

Comedy is more like my therapy. I come from a comedic family. When we get together, we crack jokes, relay funny stories, and do impersonations. I am quick-witted and will tell a joke, or give a sarcastic response at the drop of a dime. For me, there are only two options in life. You can cry and wallow in self-pity, or you can laugh and make the most of a bad situation. I choose to laugh. I keep a positive attitude, and the comedy comes naturally.

If you knew then what you know now as a seasoned author and you go back in time to meet your novice self, what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself not to stop. There was a point in my life when writing was all I did. I ate, slept, and drank it, and I was beginning to garner a buzz and make a name for myself. Then all of a sudden, I just stopped. Someone stole my joy, and I let go of my passion. A few years ago, I lost my seven-year-old niece, who was like a daughter to me. Her death inspired me to live life to the fullest, and do what I love. In writing her obituary and eulogy, my love for storytelling was rekindled. I’ve been on a mission ever since. This time I refuse to quit.

Finally, if you were to interview a legendary figure (living or not) on your radio show, who would it be, and why?

I’m going to give an obvious answer, for a self-gratifying reason. The person I would like to interview on my show would be Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey came from modest beginnings, and an abusive past. She was the plus-size talk show host who struggled publicly with her love life as well as her weight. She was typecast, misjudged,and mocked. Today, she is the Queen of all media, a self-made billionaire, and one of the most influential people in the world. Being a full-figured, African American woman is the cherry on top. Oprah Winfrey is proof that size doesn’t matter; as long as you believe it, you can achieve it!

Thank you, Michelle. This has been a fascinating interview. Please know, the doors to The Lounge are all ways open for you.

You’re welcome. Thank you for letting me share a little of myself with you and your audience. It’s truly appreciated. Big Body hugs and kisses to you.

If you want to learn more about Michelle and her work, visit her socially. She'll love to meet you:

Twitter @MichelleCuttino

Facebook: /MichelleCuttino

Instagram/Pinterest: @BigBodyPub


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