In this author interview, my guest is Faith Dismuke, author of Sprint Dreams a new adult fiction novel described as a story about an eighteen-year-old college Track & Field Athlete who is determined to be All-American never expecting to find herself at odds with herself and those she trusts in this twisted story of self-love and acceptance.
As a debut author, Dismuke writes a story that shares experiences that provide warnings, inspiring hope, and gives readers a glimpse into a college athletes life.
Dismuke holds a Masters Degree from the University of Connecticut’s Department of Communications. Over the course of her atheletic career she attained a number of accomplishments in Track & Field to name a few:
2019 Indoor USATF Nationals 300m Finalist
2018 Outdoor USATF Nationals 400m Qualifier
UCONN Senior Scholar Athlete 2015
All Conference The American Athletic Conference
Dismuke is an author as well as an advocate and public speaker. As a public speaker her events have helped support many young people.
Faith Dismuke, welcome to the Author Interview.
Sheaf & Ink
Sprint Dreams tackles an array of serious issues from Black Lives Matter to the Me Too movements. Before we get to the former, let’s talk about Me Too. Over the last ten years alone we’ve seen more and more victims, including athlete’s, come forward to describe the abuse of power by their coaches or other athletic staff. Regardless of whether you are a minor or an adult, sexual abuse should not be tolerated. What is your ultimate message to your readers after writing your main character, Makeda Delane’s own experience?
Although Makeda makes a number of mistakes throughout the story, I do not to depict her as dumb or stupid. That is my first message. The mistakes we make are not stains on a character and are not a reflections of our intelligence. Also, Makeda’s experience is a warning that anyone can end up in a toxic or abusive relationship, especially if a person is not aware of the early small and seemingly harmless signs of a toxic or abusive person.
Sheaf & Ink
With the Black Lives Matter movement campaigning against violence and systemic racism towards Black people, how does Sprint Dreams advocate the ideas and call for action the movement is committed to obtaining?
Makeda’s experience with racial microaggressions are less of a call to action and more of a voice of understanding. The danger of microaggressions is that they seem harmless or can be more easily justified by those creating them. They can be tiring for an individual targeted by microaggressions because it is a constant question of whether the targeted individual is overreacting. This story is to let people who have had to face microaggressions, whether based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation, know that they are heard, understood, and not alone in their feelings.
Sheaf & Ink
Sprint Dreams raises questions about Black culture and how students of color respond to being in a predominantly white school. What was your own experience like in college and was it similar to Makeda Delane’s?
In some ways, I can relate to Makeda when she experiences that culture shock of no longer seeing as many people that look like her. Because I had a healthier relationship with my teammates than Makeda, I did not experience that same level of loneliness and ostracism that Makeda experienced. Having teammates from diverse backgrounds helped me to love and understand our differences and similarities. Also, during my time in college, I tried to be a part of organizations and clubs outside of sports. This helped me to broaden my college friendship circle.
Sheaf & Ink
Who are some of the Young Adult authors who have inspired you as an author?
Of course, J.K. Rowling. I started the Harry Potter series around first or second grade and have loved the books since. I was not into YA lit growing up because there were not as many stories with characters that looked like me and had my experience. A lot of YA stories with black main characters that I’ve read as a kid were “kid from the hood” stories. Although that is one experience that needs to be shared, that was not my experience growing up. It’s great to see #ownvoice authors like Elizabeth Acevedo, Nic Stone, Tiffany D. Jackson, Kwame Alexander, Jason Reynolds, Dhonielle Clayton and others really broaden this space for more stories about characters from different cultures without repeating the same experiences from past stories.
Sheaf & Ink
You reference J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter throughout Sprint Dream. In a Time article author Tomi Adeyemi discussed briefly the psychological aspects of when a villain is always a person of color how we as humans project that idea into our day to day interactions. And the question of “What if Harry Potter had been black?” was also raised in the article and how we as a society would perceive people of color had that been the case. As an author, what is your take on representation within publishing and who is your target audience?
The hashtag #representationmatters exist on Instagram for a reason. I firmly support Adeyemi’s statement about the psychological effects of how people from particular groups are represented. I believe there is power is seeing someone that looks like you or has shared your life experiences succeed in fields and industries unfamiliar to you. As an adult, I felt empowered when Zozibini Tunzi won Miss Universe because I never thought I’d ever see a dark-skinned woman with short, naturally curly hair win that title. The feeling I have with Zozibini is the feeling I want my readers to share which is why include characters across the skin shades. My audience for my SPRINT DREAMS novel is older teens just entering college or about to enter college and adults in my generation who never got that story like SPRINT DREAMS or other books in this current #ownvoice literature movement.
Sheaf & Ink
On your website you provide resources for your viewers that are helpful for those who are in need of assistance be it abusive relationships, mental health or LGBT. I love the clear message you send. Letting college students and athletes as well as anyone who visits your website that they are not alone. Could you explain your own challenges you faced both as an athlete and as an undergraduate and graduate student?
As an athlete and student, I constantly grappled with the Madonna/Whore dichotomy. It was one of the reasons I ignored my own sexual interests in women. Anything that went against what it meant to be a “good athlete” or a “good girl” was something I feared. This included deterring from heterosexuality, dressing provocatively or even going out to parties. Eventually, I got tired of trying to appease others because the truth is, it doesn’t take much for women and girls to cross from “good girl” to harlot, slut, etc. Everyone has their own idea of what a good girl should be and to try to appeal to everyone will only drag you down. That’s why I created Makeda and her friends and teammates. They are flawed, sexual, foul-mouthed, outspoken, hot-tempered good girls. They are not good because they fit some mainstream standard of feminine beauty or decorum. They are good because they just are.
Sheaf & Ink
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
In high school, I wrote poetry. I learned the power of language first by learning how it empowered the self through self-affirmation and encouragement. It was not until college that I began to understand the ways that language can frame events and how we view others.
Sheaf & Ink
It takes a great deal to put together an entire novel. Sometimes it can take authors years before they are able to get their story onto the page. There are those who are behind the scene, helping authors on a regular basis who constantly provide that encouragement and support. Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?
I am ashamed to say that I did not have the type of mentor that I wished I had had while writing this novel. I was always the person doing something different from the rest of my social circle. Therefore, I often had to learn the basic of skills on my own. Although I had editors, other writers and test readers give me advice and feedback throughout my writing experience, there was not one person who guided me to finding my voice as writer. However, having to do the research on my own has helped me to understand the writing industry from various angles. With this new knowledge, I hope to be a mentor to someone else.
Sheaf & Ink
Faith Dismuke, thank you so much for talking with me.
I also had the pleasure of reviewing Sprint Dreams. You can find my review of Dismuke’s book on my blog.
My guest again for this interview was author Faith Dismuke, her book, Sprint Dreams, was released June 1st, 2020.
Faith Dismuke Website
Her website and personal blog share her own experiences, poetry, and also resources for anyone who needs to know they are Not Alone, something I personally appreciate and admire.
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Thank you very much for sharing a copy of this book with me. I look forward to reading it.
Enjoy! Would love to hear your thoughts after you read. =)