Meet Joiya Morrison-Efemini, author of Petrified Flowers!

Welcome to Anaiah Press! Tell us about yourself.

What’s more important: characters or plot?

Characters are more vital to my stories. Characters drive the plot. When I create a fictional person, or write about a person I know, the identity of that person forms her ideas, her dialogue, and her actions. As long as I stay true to the essence of my character, the story will be authentic.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I am not writing, I am partner to an amazing husband and mother to four phenomenal kiddos. Ten years ago, after the birth of baby number three, I made the difficult decision to resign from my job as a child advocate attorney, to raise my kids full-time. I have been writing in the midst of all the shenanigans ever since.

What do you do when you experience writer’s block?

I run. And run and run and run. Some of my best stories and poems have been written while I’ve been in a zone, running through my neighborhood, seeing nothing beyond the sidewalk just ahead of my footfalls. I do a lot of writing in my head. 

How did you come up with the title of your book?

Iris and her sisters are all named after flowers. When we think of something that is petrified, we think of a living organism that is preserved into something hard and dead. A fossil. I think of the transformation of Iris and her sisters in this way; knowledge of their Heavenly Father preserved them, and replaced their earthly matter with His immutable goodness. Their dead matter was reworked, and they became impressions of their Father. The Flower Sisters were Petrified.   

Provide us with a two-sentence description of your book.

Rain only refreshes the other side of the street and death comes in threes. Yet, one African American family discovers new life in Christ.

About Petrified Flowers

Tragedy uproots Iris and her sisters, all named after flowers, from the solid ground of middle-class life and plants them, unsupervised, in the rocky terrain of low-income housing. In a world where rain falls only on the other side of the street, Liam proves refreshing as a summer gale, gushing joy into the sisters’ lives. Further nurtured by Ma Moore, a church elder who sprinkles the Flower sisters with spiritual wisdom, Iris embraces her Heavenly Father with steadfast urgency.

But, when a student takes a hopeless leap from the school roof, Iris withers under the scorching realization that everything she thought she knew about privilege – and God – lies crippled. Petrified Flowers is the anthem of one African American girl straddling three worlds. It is a song of hope, a triumph of faith, and a resounding refrain of the Father’s eternal love.

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