Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Meet Randall Barnes, author of 'The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson'

Meet Randall Barnes, the 18 year-old author of The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson

What was the inspiration for your book?
I got the inspiration for the book from the remarkable young women I see every day. I knew that I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming an author but I was stumped at which one of my stories were publishable material. It takes more than just remarkable writing talent in the publishing industry. Now days you have to have a product that’s proven to sell or you’ll get kicked out of the industry as sure as you came in. Since I saw that females are the main consumers of books in this country, I decided that I wanted to write a novel that caters to the female audience.

Even though the business aspect of the novel was the first thing I thought about, I still wanted to write something real. I wanted to market my work as something more than a fly-by-night read. I wanted my readers to learn something while their being taken an emotional ride. That’s when I created the character of Aaliyah Anderson. Then, everything else fell in place.
Which character spoke to you the most during the writing process?
Of course Aaliyah speaks the most to me! She’s the one writing the story. I’m just the person that puts it all together! Seriously though, the whole concept of the project is to make it where it’s more than a simple YA novel. I wanted the reader to feel as if Aaliyah was a real person. The reader isn’t reading about Aaliyah and Willowsfield, they’re proverbially going everywhere Aaliyah takes them. They see her adventures and various run-ins first hand. Aaliyah is the best friend or younger sister that you wish you had. If a boy reads the novel, she’s the girlfriend that would push you to upgrade yourself and pursue greater from life. To make Aaliyah a universal character I had to channel her voice. So, she was the character that spoke the most to me.
How much of yourself is in this book?
According to the young women around me that have read the novel, Aaliyah is the female version of me! Based off that brilliant observation, the novel is 100% me. From the societal observations to Aaliyah’s fiery personality and undying determination, the story embodies my unique ideology and philosophy on life as a millennial in the 21st Century. And many of the situations that Aaliyah got into were inspired by what’s happened to me. A perfect example of this is the saga between Aaliyah and Mrs. Connor. I’ll leave it at that!
What was one of your favorite scenes?
Off top, I’d say the heated, but professional, argument between Miss Carter and Mrs. Connor over Aaliyah’s first office referral of her school career. But I have to say my favorite scene comes later when Aaliyah turns reluctant and attitudinal 7th grader Theresa Williamson onto reading. Just like me, Aaliyah is a very influential and persuasive person. She was easily able to get Theresa out of her shell and now she’s an avid reader that got two one-hundreds on the book report that Aaliyah helped her on! Also, I gave a brief summary of my argument on why many teenagers aren’t reading. Simply put, it’s because we usually see nothing that grabs our attention. Books are being made into movies and T.V. shows every month now so what’s the point of sitting down and entangling yourself in a interesting novel? Right? 
Aaliyah proved in the chapter “Major Progress” that, if you give a reluctant reader something that they can relate to, it’ll show them that there is some variety and exciting stories in the literature realm. These same people may now be inspired to go and find more books that peek their interests, just like Theresa in The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson.
Can we expect to see these characters again?
Oh, no doubt! The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson: Volume II is already finished and expected to be released the first part of this year.
What are some of your other written works?
My eShort Riverview High: Circumstances is on Amazon now. It actually debuted #2 on the Amazon charts the week of it’s release and holds a strong five star rating. Make sure to go check that out family!
On what projects are you currently working?
I’m in the phase of brand building. I’m actively getting ready to debut my TDOAA Appeal line to the world this year. Speaking of Riverview High, I’m also working on a play adaption to the eShort as we speak. I’m hoping to be done with that soon so I can meet some new people and turn them into fans of my work.
What is the best writing advice you ever received?
The best writing advice I’ve ever received is that I need to write from the heart. You can’t force art! You can’t monetize your art too early as well. If you’re writing just to make a quick buck, you’re not going to get very far. Where’s your passion? Where’s your drive to create literary work that’ll stand the test of time? To be a successful writer you have to be authentic and innovative. That advice helped me in writing The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson.
When not writing, what can we find you doing?
Mainly working out, playing basketball, reading, watching select T.V. shows and hanging out with my friends and family.
How does writing fulfill you?
It gives me a constructive platform to address the issues I see around me, in my community and in the world at large. When I write something, folks tend to listen and take heed to what they read. I’ve received hundreds of email and messages from young ladies around the world thanking me for writing The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson and telling me that it’s a perfect representation of them. Some young ladies have even told me that the story changed their life. Hearing that definitely fulfills me. As a matter of fact, it gives my life purpose!
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
In all of its glory, The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson almost didn’t happen. I almost allowed my inner critique to take me over.

“How am I supposed to write a whole novel from the perspective of a teenage girl? I’m a guy!”
“This isn’t going to sell. Folks will think I’m being too preachy. I need to write a relationship, street or sports-driven novel instead.” 
It’s safe to say I was wrong! The novel has reached heights I never would’ve expected and I know this is just the beginning. 2015 is definitely going to be bright!
Do you make any New Years Resolutions? If so, what is one of them for 2015?
My New Years Resolution was to continue chasing success with the newly acquired status, resources and networking connections that I accumulated in 2014. This year is all about growing the Randall Barnes brand. We’re starting with the play adaption of Riverview High: Circumstances and the TDOAA Appeal line and branching out some more as the year rolls on.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for reading this interview! Make sure to check out The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson and Riverview High: Circumstances on Amazon and leave a review. Make sure to follow me on social media as well.
Twitter: @AuthorRandallB


Meet Aaliyah Anderson, a beautiful, intelligent, ambitious thirteen-year-old young woman ready to take over the world. With her mom being a superstar broadcast journalist and her older brother Damon being an acclaimed writer and star sports player. Aaliyah lives a fantastic life. Aaliyah quickly learns that her good life, doesn't separate her from life's problems. She has to deal with tons of hardships and avoid many obstacles along her path to achieving her short term goal of finally making it to high school and what she feels will bring her closer to her dreams of being a CEO of a company.

Aaliyah has to deal with overwhelming family issues such as the divorce of her parents and the result of her "father's" unfaithfulness, infidelity, and a family secret that turns her world upside down. As if her family wasn't messed up enough, her eleven-year old brother turns to the streets and joins the Eastside Rydahz, one of the most notorious gangs in the city. Her eldest brother Jeffery, or high-ranked Rydah 808, hates everything about Aaliyah and she doesn't understand it. All Aaliyah wants is to have the ideal loving, united family and it hurts her that their situation is seemingly fractured beyond repair.

To make things even more pressing, she lives in the ruthless city of Willowsfield, statistically the #1 most dangerous city in America, where senseless community violence is the norm and life expectancy is low. With the pressure to succeed and make it out of the ditch that Aaliyah calls her hometown, she still has to deal with more problems that test her patience.

With its realistic characters, life-like setting and dynamic message, The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson is entertaining and a sure fire conversation starter on what we need to do as a generation.

~~Read another excerpt here~~

Buy links

About the author:

Randall Barnes is an eighteen year old author, internet radio personality, public speaker and mentor who currently resides in Macon, GA. Randall is already renowned for his positive, realistic, moral driven writings. His first novel The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson has garnered over 46,000 reads on and universal acclaim. He writes for the popular news website Urban Intellectuals, the relationship blog Courting Her and literary blog Straight, No Chaser. Randall is also the author of the eShort Riverview High: Circumstances, which hit number #2 on the Amazon charts in the week of its debut.

Randall is currently a senior at William S. Hutchings College & Career Academy. Along with being a talented writer, Randall also has the gift of public speaking. He won first place in the FBLA Region 5 Public Speaking Competition in January of 2013. Randall also was also the first student in history to represent Hutchings in the Rotary Club Speech Contest. The best has yet to come for this young man. Look out!

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