I met Malena Crawford at a book signing during the 2017 Essence Festival a few weeks ago, she stood out from the other authors that was there. She had this radiating glow about her, the kind someone has when you know they’re not only beautiful on the outside but have an amazing spirit as well. As we briefly got acquainted I could tell Malena was more than just an author but a true story-teller. One that God had chosen to tell a grand message.
After reading her debut novel A Fistful of Honey, I can confirm I was right. This book tells the story of a woman that finds herself in turmoil, trying to gather a solution to escape it all, only to find that the real answer lies within her and the divine power she was born with.
Be sure to read my empowering interview with Malena below. Enjoy!
DM: So I hear it’s your first time visiting the city of New Orleans, how are you liking the city thus far?
MF: I love New Orleans, it has a lot of heart! The people here have been so welcoming and of course the food is on point.
DM: Yes! There is no place with delicious food quite like ours! Let’s delve into your novel, which is AMAZING by the way, I know your main character Alena’s life is based on your real-life experiences tell me about that?
MF: Thank you! Alena Ford is actually a play on my name, M-Alena Craw-Ford. She is an old part of myself that I released to become the woman I am today. Now, “A Fistful of Honey” is work of fiction, not all of her experiences mirror my own, but a great deal of them do. Or the experiences of women I have known. What Alena and Malena have in common without a doubt is the journey that the character takes from not knowing her place in life and feeling broken, to moving into purpose, forgiveness, and self-love!
DM: Well you definitely expressed that journey throughout the book. One of the main reasons I was intrigued by your novel is the mysticism throughout it. It’s very similar to New Orleans mystic culture. Why did you feel it was important to include this component in your book?
MF: It was important to me that women of color, black women especially, could themselves in God; to be validated as the image and likeness of the Divine. I found in my experience that we were largely missing from mainstream ideas of who God is and what holiness looks like. So having Osun, the Yoruba Goddess of Love, a black Mary Magdalene, and Isis as key characters was only natural for me.
DM: I loved how you gave an authentic account of the Black Woman’s Experience by showcasing how powerful yet taxing it can be. How does your experience as a Black woman relate to the characters in the novel?
MF: At the heart of A Fistful of Honey is the truth of black women: that we are powerful and divine. This truth was something I had to reconnect with in a major way, and it changed my life. It is a truth that Alena Ford has to reconnect with. She tried to find solace from racism and mainstream acceptance by denying her power and divinity as a black woman. She has to accept herself and get to her joy just like I had to. Not long before I began writing, I realized that in my experience as both black and woman, I was spending so much time in fighting and survival mode that it was distracting me from the joy of living. It was an “aha” moment for me. I made the choice to live the grandest life I can despite the onslaught of challenges and injustices hurled our way. We and only we define ourselves and create our lives.
DM: Wow, those are such powerful and true words! As a fellow storyteller I know we often learn a profound lesson about ourselves by sharing our art, what did you learn about yourself through this process?
MF: Writing A Fistful of Honey has absolutely changed my life. I learned how to surrender and be led by God, this was the only way the story would be told through me. I learned that vulnerability is power. Vulnerability makes you a pliable and whole vessel for miracles. I cannot tell you how many readers have written in or come up to me sharing how this novel has changed their life. That has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God.
DM: I totally understand when you say that. I believe God is the storyteller and we are just the vessels that are used. Besides the idea of the Divine often shown throughout the book, what else would you say makes A Fistful of Honey different than any other fantasy fiction novel out right now?
MF: A Fistful of Honey is different because our protagonist is a black woman who is in her 30s and also a mother. This is something almost unheard of in fantasy fiction. Also, it’s what I would call “hybrid fantasy”. The story has fantastical elements, but it also has a rich and layered emotional story of literary fiction with a little dash of hot romance.
DM: What do you hope to bring as an author to the world of fiction novels?
MF: I want everyday women to see themselves in my stories and get inspired by them! I stand out as an author because I’m not afraid to be a pioneer or the underdog. I write characters that come from my life, fuse together genres, and pose non-traditional or even controversial ideas for a new and juicy experience.
DM: I definitely can concur with that. I was able to see my journey in this story. What can we expect from you next as an author? Will there be A Fistful of Honey novel series?
MF: You can definitely expect a sequel to A Fistful of Honey for sure! You may even see some nonfiction how-to books since I am so passionate about self-development and living our best life.
DM: That sounds great! I’ll be looking forward to it.
*Malena Crawford currently resides in Washington, D. C. Besides being an author, she is a transformation coach and motivational speaker. She studied at George Washington University and holds a BA in Psychology and Neuropsychology. Malena is also the founder of the Black Divine Feminine Reawakened movement; a revolution dedicated to the way black women see and experience themselves. Her novel has received phenomenal reviews from renoun authors such as Iyanla Vazant, and has been featured in magazines like Blavity, Rolling Out, and Uptown.