According to her bio, Briana Cole “is an acclaimed author, motivational speaker, sex educator and actress. Her novels are known for exploring unconventional relationships and making readers question all expectations about love, lust, and monogamy.” I first noticed Briana Cole’s work with last year’s Couples Wanted, a playful and frank book about a couple that opens up their marriage—to the wrong people. Now she’s back with Behind Her Lives, in which a woman searches for her missing sister, a search that will take her deep within herself. I asked Briana Cole a few questions about craft, genre, and how she balances it all. Behind Her Lives is forthcoming on October 25 from Dafina Books.
Molly Odintz: You wear many hats. How do you strike a balance between so many different professions?
Briana Cole: With so many professions, I tend to stay busy, that’s for sure. But it’s a good busy. I can be writing one book, marketing another, writing screenplays, auditions, taking acting classes, photoshoots, outlining new ideas, and pitching, not to mention being a mommy to three boys. With my hands in so much, I have to squeeze in every second I can. I am an obsessive planner and organizer, for one. My lifeline is my calendar and I add everything to it, from doctor’s appointments for the kids, to Zoom meetings, and due dates. In addition to this, I prioritize my responsibilities based on deadlines to make sure I give myself adequate time to get things done. I also mobilize my drafts by using tools on my phone and iPad to write-on-the-go, which helps me fulfill my daily writing goals. So, you may catch me writing notes for a script or chapter nine of my next book while I’m standing in line at the grocery store. Plus, to make sure things get done, I have to make some sacrifices (like sleep, lol). Thankfully, I have a phenomenal support system which most certainly helps! And this is what I’ve prayed for, so I am enjoying the ride and looking forward to the next levels.
MO: As a follow-up, you’ve always got so many creative efforts going. What do you want readers and viewers to know about upcoming projects?
BC: I just released the very first feature film that I wrote and produced,Pseudo, which is now streaming on TUBI. Also on the film side, we are currently pitching the TV series for my first book, The Wives We Play, so I’m looking forward to getting that picked up soon. I am also in the writer’s room for a TV series currently streaming on AllBlk, and a producer has requested I write the script for my book The Marriage Pass, so look for that to hit the screen in the near future. At the same time, I am eagerly anticipating my next book, Behind Her Lives, which is currently up for pre-order and will release on October 25, 2022!
MO: Your last psychological thriller, Couples Wanted, was, to put it mildly, hot. What are your pointers when it comes to writing sex?
BC: Not being ashamed to write about sex.For a while, it seemed like authors were either afraid or ashamed to write what they wanted to write and instead, wrote what was perceived as acceptable (myself included). Of course, there are markets for those stories, as well. However, writing is a creative outlet, often therapeutic and the last thing we should feel is stifled in our own creativity. Or worse, having to conform to some kind of censorship “box.” Let’s be honest, people have sex. It’s a completely normal occurrence, just like eating and bathing. Why should there be a ceiling on what can and can’t be discussed among grown, consenting adults? I pride myself on educating as well as entertaining. Therefore, writing about sex is an opportunity to explore the various aspects of a relationship; the emotional, mental,and physical. So, use your creative freedom and run with it. Write as much (or as little) or as descriptive as you feel comfortable doing. That’s the beauty of the writing process.
MO: Your new book, Behind Her Lives, asks, can you ever really know a person. What did you want to explore about identity and the stories we tell ourselves about our loved ones?
BC: This story is very near and dear to my heart. After having lost my own sister recently, I really wanted to explore grief and loss, as well as the relationship between sisters. More importantly, I wanted to touch on how we can hide behind this image or identity of what we want to present to people, sometimes masking our true selves from others; whether it’s fear, a defense mechanism, or something else entirely. Through this story, I wanted to highlight the mental health stigma and increase awareness on something we don’t oftentimes realize until it’s too late: You never really know what someone else is going through.
MO: You’ve written urban fiction and psychological thrillers – how does writing in each genre compare?
BC: Though urban fiction is more relatable for me, I must say that psychological thrillers are more fun to write, lol. Perhaps because that is the genre I mainly read. It’s like an episode of Law and Order in book form. But in both genres, you will get an engaging narrative, which is the goal for any author.
MO: You’re based in Atlanta. How does the city influence your fiction?
BC: Atlanta is a thriving hub for creatives right now and I’m grateful to be in the midst of it. I was born and raised in Atlanta and because I’m so familiar with the culture and the city as a whole, my books are mostly based in the area. I think that makes my writing more authentic and relatable because the setting takes on a voice of its own.