Yasmin Angoe, debut author and winner of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, launches her thriller, Her Name is Knight.
Author Interview + Book & Author Info
Her Name is Knight by Yasmin Angoe
A smash debut novel from rising star Yasmin Angoe, Her Name Is Knight features an elite assassin heroine on a mission to topple a human trafficking ring and avenge her family.
Stolen from her Ghanaian village as a child, Nena Knight has plenty of motives to kill. Now an elite assassin for a powerful business syndicate called the Tribe, she gets plenty of chances.
But while on assignment in Miami, Nena ends up saving a life, not taking one. She emerges from the experience a changed woman, finally hopeful for a life beyond rage and revenge. Tasked with killing a man she’s come to respect, Nena struggles to reconcile her loyalty to the Tribe with her new purpose.
Meanwhile, she learns a new Tribe council member is the same man who razed her village, murdered her family, and sold her into captivity.
Nena can’t resist the temptation of vengeance―and she doesn’t want to. Before she can reclaim her life, she must leverage everything she was and everything she is to take him down and end the cycle of bloodshed for good.
To purchase Her Name is Knight, click on the following links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble & IndieBound
Yasmin Angoe —The interview
Tell us about Nena Knight, the protagonist of your debut, Her Name Is Knight:
Nena is a Ghanaian woman who is the top assassin for this secret business conglomerate called the Tribe.
Her adoptive family the Knights head up the Tribe and so Nena is also an heiress to the organization. She is extremely professional and by the book, but she is a fierce protector, not only of herself, but of those she comes to care for after her birth family’s brutal murder by some really horrible guys.
Describe the road to publishing your first novel:
I’ve been working toward becoming a published author for over twenty years and had a lot of starts and stops along the way.
It wasn’t until 2017 when I felt ready to “pick up the pen” again and renew my lifelong dream of being a published author. I’d had an idea for the protagonist for a few years but formally began writing Her Name is Knight, originally called Wudini, in 2018. I finished it mid 2019 and began querying Jan. 2020.
I received a slew of rejections. I can’t even tell you how many.
The rejections took their toll on me and about April/May, I was ready to give up writing altogether. I thought maybe I’d been lying to myself all these years and everyone rejecting my stories was the sign telling me to hang it all up. But then an author friend of mine who was in a writing group with me, Crime Writers of Color, suggested I submit my work to Sisters in Crime for their Eleanor Taylor Bland Award for Emerging Writers of Color.
I eventually agreed and submitted knowing I wasn’t going to win, but I decided to do “just one more thing” before I officially quit writing. I literally told myself, “Okay, Yasmin, just do this one thing and then you’ll stop.” I forgot about the contest once I hit submit.
A few weeks later, I got THE CALL that an agent wanted to talk to me about my book.
I signed with her and right after we began to work together, I received an email that I won the Eleanor Taylor Bland award. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that all of a sudden people were starting to take notice of this story about a Ghanaian female assassin and her family. I couldn’t believe I suddenly had an agent and then won an award after all these “no’s” I finally got some “yes’s”.
We went on submission about the same time the announcement was made for the award and a little while after, we received interest and then calls from editors.
So, once it started for me, it all happened back-to-back. And it’s not the norm in publishing. However, I had been working toward this for decades. All of this didn’t come easy. or without tears and doubt. But it finally came. Whew!
I love that we are sisters in writing, as we are both represented by Stonesong Literary. How did you find your agent, Melissa Edwards?
Heyyyyy, my fellow sister in writing! We have such an awesome team behind us.
We totally do!
I queried Melissa along with other agents. She sent me an email asking to set up a phone call and I nearly hyperventilated. I couldn’t believe that after all this time, someone wanted to talk to me about this book of my heart, a book I knew readers would love because I’d put my everything in this thing. I knew it was good, but even though I knew it, I believed that there must be a reason I’m missing as to why everyone was rejecting it.
I had THE CALL with Melissa Edwards who asked to represent me, and she is the best thing since sliced bread. I am so thankful for her.
What does a typical writing day look like for you? Where will we find you?
A typical writing day depends on if it’s a weekday or weekend. I have a full-time job so on a weekday, I’ll write after my work hours or on breaks. Whenever the spark hits me to write.
On the weekend, I’ll get up early and bang out some words. Then I’ll have some family time and then get back to writing or doing some writing maintenance. Days when I’m not working my full-time job are the best because my mind isn’t mush by the time it’s time to write.
What’s your process for working with writers as a developmental editor? What can a writer expect from working with you?
My process is to talk with the author to find out what they’re looking for. A lot of times, they don’t really know what their promise is to the reader…what the reader should expect will be delivered in this story. I try to figure that out for the author as I’m editing their work.
I’ll ask for a sample first to get a feel of the story and give the author a mini letter with some in-line notes of suggestions, findings, questions I may have. From there the author and I will know if we’re a good fit for each other or not and then we go from there.
Working with me, an author will know how invested I am in their story. They’ll know that the things I’m telling them comes from my experience as an editor, but as an author as well. I know what it’s like to be on both sides of that coin—editor and author. I know what readers want when they pick up a book, which is a good, satisfying story. I work with the author to craft a really good and satisfying story for the reader, one that delivers that promise to the reader.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m waiting on my editor to come back to me with notes on the draft I sent in for book 2 which is the sequel to Her Name Is Knight. And I’m working on some sample chapters for possible upcoming books.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
My words of wisdom would be what I had to tell myself during the darkest time of my writing career which was to keep going.
“Just one more thing” became the thing for me. Success will look differently for each of us, but any joy you find in what you do is success.
Remembering not to give up a dream you love and know you’re good at is everything. Keep trying that “one more thing”.
Excellent advice! So thrilled for your successes! I look forward to having you back to visit with book two!
Hailing from Northern Virginia, Yasmin Angoe is a first-generation Ghanaian American who grew up in two cultural worlds.
She taught English in middle and high schools for years, served as an instructional coach for virtual teachers, and works as a freelance developmental and copy editor.
Yasmin received the 2020 Eleanor Taylor Bland Award for Emerging Writers of Color from Sisters in Crime, of which she’s a proud member.
She lives in South Carolina with her beautiful blended family, and when she’s not writing, Yasmin’s editing for clients, trying new recipes, or absorbed in an audiobook.
To learn more about Yasmin, click on her name, photo, or any of the following links: Twitter & GoodReads
Elena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite bookstores and on-line retailers.
For more information on All We Buried, click on the link here to visit the home page.
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator 2020
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery 2020