Born and raised in the heart of Dallas, Texas, in Oak Cliff, Chalecha Cunningham is no stranger to all types of people. Life was always in her face. Currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia by way of Baltimore, Maryland; she has never lost her Southern Hospitality. Chalecha is a veteran of the United States Navy, a licensed barber and an Information Systems Specialist. Jackie of all trades.
Chalecha Cunningham is a freelance writer, poet and blogger. Her online blog includes unspokensouthernhospitality.blogspot.com as well as her first published work of poetry, “Unspoken Southern Hospitality” which was published at the end of last year (2013). Chalecha has definitely proven that you are not where you come from but what you do when you get to where you are going.
Chalecha embodies her self-made motto, “built for this life” and she firmly believes you only have one life to live and it’s yours to live it. Through her poetry she speaks of love, cultural biases, heartbreak, life and the courage to live. She takes you on a journey through her poetry that takes you outside of what is expected, into simply being! Chalecha fully engages and encourages her readers to not only live life but to live YOUR life!
BPM: What motivated you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
I actually had written this book about a year ago but it is such a personal and intimate part of my life that I was afraid of sharing and allowing so many people to see me. It’s hard being naked and this book is my nakedness. Why now? I decided to put it out there now because it represents a major crossroad in my life. I was in a situation where I could do what would make me happy or stay in a place that limited my happiness. In making the decision to be happy I had to let go of someone who made me very happy and it was very hard so I put it all into my book.
BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?
My upbringing and life experiences definitely are what I draw on for a lot of inspiration in my writings. I was born and raised in the South, in Oak Cliff (Dallas), Texas but I left home my sophomore year in college and joined the military, so where I came from and my values have always been instilled in me. I also have my own personal beliefs and some things that I inherited from my military experience so I have a lot of different things that make me who I am. I have seen a lot of things through others and that also inspires and influences my writing.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from?
My book ideas come from life, LOL. These are some of my experiences and the things that I have been through directly and indirectly. My ideas are the direct images from my mind, which sometimes seep out of my mouth and onto the page. Everything that we do in life has some type of lesson and for me, I draw on every experience and believe that there is some type of plot or purpose for every character or person you meet in life.
BPM: Introduce us to your current work,Unspoken Southern Hospitality.
My current work is a book of poetry titled, “Unspoken Southern Hospitality.” I believe that everyone at some point in life has had an experience in love! The concept behind this book is based on the different types of love that we go through and experience throughout life. It’s about the pain, the joy, the confusion, the want, and unspoken love. It takes you through so many emotions and touches on things that you may have said or have wanted to say but just couldn’t find the words. To me, this book gives love an actual voice.
BPM: Give us an insight into your story. What makes it so special?
In this particular work, the main character is me and my experiences and it’s special because it’s simply me and it’s pure and real. Everything in this book comes from a very personal place or moment. It comes from something that has drawn me to write about it. Read more about it and the excerpt here, go.
BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
I learned how to deal with past hurts and the stigma or ideas that are embedded in us as children and women that we are supposed to be a certain way and do certain things.
Mental illness is a major disease in America and especially in the black community. It is seen as a sign of shame and there is a major stigma associated with it. The more we educate ourselves as well as become more open to conversations about this disease, the better we will become at addressing it. Too many lives are lost to mental illness so don’t be ashamed or afraid; address it!!
BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author?
Success for me as a published author came when I held the first copy of my book in my hand and when I was able to send copies to my family and friends and share in that moment. Success for me comes in knowing that I was able to speak to someone that I have never met in life and give him or her a voice and let him or her know that they are not alone in this world.
BPM: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
My ambitions for my writing career are to be able to grow not only as an author but also as a motivator. It is to share, teach, and heal someone. I want my words to provoke not only thought but I want them to provoke a movement. I want my words to encourage and strengthen someone who may be broken or who may have self-doubt. I want my writing to be the fuel for someone else to do great things in their life!
BPM: What are your expectations for this book?
I honestly don’t have any expectations for this book. I’m just blessed to have my first book published and be able to share my talent.
BPM: What would you like for readers to do after reading this book?
I would like for readers to reflect and refuel. I want people to read this and again be encouraged, be motivated, and dream. I want people to read my book and become so inspired that they go out and do something that they never thought they could do or at least say something that they have always wanted to say.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can follow my blog, unspokensouthernhospitality.blogspot.com to read previews of upcoming projects and learn more about me. Readers can also find me on Instagram at unspokensouthernhospitality and on Facebook at: facebook.com/CLCunningham44.
Unspoken Southern Hospitality by Chalecha Cunningham
Kindle Link: http://amzn.com/B00IUV0R7M
Unspoken Southern Hospitality by Chalecha Cunningham
PB Link: http://amzn.com/1492779482