A Closer Book, Ten Questions Archive

Ten Questions for LaToya Jordan

RAISING MOTHERS:     What inspired you to tell this story?

LATOYA JORDAN:    The idea began formulating in my head in 2016, after I read a news article about the first uterine transplant being performed in the US. Because my mind always goes to the worst-case scenario, I thought about the urban myth surrounding black market organs and waking up in a hotel bathtub filled with ice and a kidney missing. I thought about the lengths some people will go to to have biological children and wondered about what a future black market for uteruses might look like. Later that year, I had uterine surgery to remove a fibroid. I’d had many talks with my doctors about my uterus, surgery, and preserving my fertility. Then, the first Woman’s March happened in January 2017. What began as a kernel of an idea morphed based on what was happening in my life and what was happening in the country around medical advances, reproductive rights, and racial justice.

RAISING MOTHERS:     What did you edit out of this book?

LATOYA JORDAN:    This book was more about what I added to it instead of edited out. It began as a short story and grew from about 8,000 words to 20,000+. I added a lot more about my protagonist Jada’s world in 2040.

RAISING MOTHERS:     How did you know you were done? What did you discover about yourself upon completion?

LATOYA JORDAN:   It was hard to be done because the story isn’t over. This is a novella, so I had to find a place to stop that was a major turning point for Jada but could also segue into a part two. Jada’s story isn’t over and I’m looking forward to exploring what happens next.

What I discovered about myself when I finished this project was that mapping out a revision schedule helped immensely when I felt overwhelmed. I used to primarily write poetry, so moving to longer works felt daunting. While revising my novella, I created a process for myself that I’m continuing to use for revision. I wrote down everything that needed to be revised and would take it step by step. In a bullet journal, I mapped my revision schedule out with dates, times to squeeze in revision, and what exactly I was going to work on. For instance, if I needed to add more dialogue, add backstory, and change the tense in the story, I’d sit down to a scheduled session and only work on improving dialogue throughout the story. It felt less overwhelming to know I was working on fixing one issue in the story in a certain session or sessions. Once I finished improving dialogue in the story, I’d move onto the next issue. Working in passes and taking the time to plot this out set me up for success. So, I learned I’m not as much of a seat of the pantser as I thought I was.

RAISING MOTHERS:     What was your agenting process like?

LATOYA JORDAN:    I don’t have an agent but if an agent wants to slide into my DMs, they’re open. I’ve been focusing on trying to finish my short story collection.

RAISING MOTHERS:     What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

LATOYA JORDAN:  Anytime I can learn something new about writing is the best money I’ve spent. Getting my MFA and taking writing classes and workshops has been money well spent.

RAISING MOTHERS:     How many hours a day do you write? Break down your typical writing day.

LATOYA JORDAN:    There is no typical writing day for me. When I’m really busy with work and family stuff, my writing might be using my phone on my commute to jot down ideas, dialogue, or whatever comes to mind for a story I’m revising or a new draft. Sometimes I write after my family is asleep. Sometimes I make Zoom lunch dates with other writers and we’ll spend 45 minutes to an hour together but off screen, writing. When our weekends aren’t packed with social activities, I’ll write when my husband takes the kids to the playground or I lock myself in a room for 30 minutes to an hour. In the past couple of years with the pandemic and a whole lot of family togetherness, I’ll go to a hotel in our city once or twice a year for a weekend and hunker down to write. I’m currently focused on being more intentional and creating an office hours schedule that becomes part of my family’s routine.

RAISING MOTHERS:     What are your top three tips to help develop your writing muscle?

LATOYA JORDAN:   Write, get that first draft on the page no matter how much you think it sucks. First drafts are the hardest. I have to constantly remind myself that the story in my head won’t look like what I imagined the first time it’s on paper. Join or create community with other writers. Have an accountability partner that you can send pages to and get feedback on your work. Writing is a solitary practice but we need community. Read often in the genre you’re writing and also read in work that’s completely the opposite because you could learn a thing or two from what those writers are doing. I think all fiction writers should read poetry.

RAISING MOTHERS:     What does literary success look like to you?

LATOYA JORDAN:    My idea of success has changed so much. Of course success looks like a book, multiple books out in the world. But that’s not all literary success is for me. It also means the continuous return to writing. There is so much in my life that pulls me away but I will not let that voice that wants to write quiet. I also feel success when writers I admire read, enjoy, and respect my work. I love it when people write to tell me how much a story or a poem touched them or that they’re teaching my essay in their classes. A minister once reached out to me via Facebook to tell me she shared a poem of mine with her congregation and how much the poem moved her and them. That’s success. 

RAISING MOTHERS:     What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

LATOYA JORDAN:    I’m friends with a lot of writers, some have published books and some haven’t. I love that I have so many writers in my life. They help me become a better writer by giving feedback on my work and I learn from them by reading their work. We have discussions on craft, on the world of writing, rejection, acceptances, and yes, some literary gossip.

I think every writer I know in person and via social media is my friend whether they want to be or not. I do want to say that I’m forever grateful for Tyrese Coleman for pushing me to write short stories. And to Kate Maruyama who has been my longtime friend from grad school that always cheers me on. Over the last few years as I transitioned to writing short stories, she’s been showing me the ropes and guiding me within the speculative fiction genre. 

RAISING MOTHERS:     Who are you writing for?

LATOYA JORDAN:     I write for myself. My protagonists are all Black girls, women, and mothers so I write for them, too.

LaToya Jordan (she/her) is a writer from Brooklyn, NY. Her novella, To the Woman in the Pink Hat, was published in March by Aqueduct Press. Her writing has appeared in Anomaly, Literary Mama, Shirley Magazine, MER, Raising Mothers, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, and more. Her flash story “Offering” was a spotlight story in Best Small Fictions 2021 and named in Wigleaf’s Top 50 2021. Her essay “The Zig Zag Mother,” appears in My Caesarean: Twenty-One Mothers on the C-Section Experience and After and another essay, “After Striking a Fixed Object,” published by The Manifest-Station, was notable in Best American Essays 2016. She is also the author of a poetry chapbook, Thick-Skinned Sugar. She has an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is wife to an English teacher and mom to two amazing kids.

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Filed under: A Closer Book, Ten Questions Archive


Sherisa de Groot (she/her) is a writer, community builder, and founder of Raising Mothers, literary membership community Literary Liberation, and pens A Home Within Myself. With a focus on intersectionality and social justice, de Groot’s writing explores the nuances of motherhood and the experiences of BIPOC mothers and marginalized genders. Through her work, she aims to amplify the voices of those who have been historically silenced and create a more equitable world for all. Her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Kindred by Parents, Refinery 29, Mutha Magazine, and Oldster Magazine and she was a contributor to the book ‘100 Diverse Voices on Parenthood’ by A Kid’s Company About.