Friend of the Blog and fellow extension-obsessed writer, Katrina Spencer just published her second novel, Unbeweaveable. The name of which totally cracks me up and I try to fit into everyday conversation as much as possible. It’s about a tough New York woman whose life takes a turn, forcing her to move back home to Texas… and remove her weave. It’s funny and lighthearted, just like Katrina. Check out our interview where we discuss her new book, celeb hair, and of course, extensions!
Hair On The Brain: A hot topic of conversation on HOTB is extensions. Obviously, that’s something you love so much you decided to write a book about it. How did you come up with the idea?
Katrina Spencer: I’m a former hairstylist that was forced to retire due to health reasons. Going down to one income, I couldn’t see myself spending so much money on my hair weave, so (insert tear here) I had to remove my weave. I was surprised by how vulnerable I felt wearing my natural hair. I was totally addicted to my weave. So I thought, “Hey, I bet tons of other women feel like this.” And Unbeweaveable was born.
HOTB: What did you learn when you removed your weave?
Katrina: My career for over ten years was hair, hair, hair. So when I removed my weave, I learned that–yes, looking your best is important–but you don’t need a weave to do that.
HOTB: Can you talk about your transition from hairstyling to writing?
Katrina: I was never the healthiest person growing up, and I knew that doing hair would only last me so long, that eventually I would have to find something less demanding. When my sister dared me to write a novel better than the one she attempted, I thought, “Okay, I can do that.” After a few trial and errors I wrote my first novel Six O’clock. After placing in a few short story contests, I realized I loved writing just as much, if not more, than my love affair with hair. SO I set out to make it happen.
HOTB: Styling hair and writing are worlds apart. How did you prepare to write a book?
Katrina: Actually, they are more similar than people think. As a hairstylist, you have to work really hard on your craft to gain clients, and you always have to hustle. You’re constantly promoting yourself and your salon to gain more. The same applies to writing. I had to take a few writing courses, gather as many books as I could to study the craft, and started writing. I do think I have a natural talent for both. Growing up, I loved to read as much as I loved to style my Barbie’s hair!
HOTB: What’s one thing you learned as a hairstylist that helped your writing?
Katrina: Dealing with rejection. Styling hair is an art, and art is subjective. One client may love a style I give her, while another could cry in my chair. You learn early to separate yourself from your work and not to take it personally. If you didn’t like your hair I would try to fix it, but if I couldn’t I had to move on to my next client. That discipline has really helped me in my writing. Not everyone is going to love my books–and that’s okay. Either way I’m moving forward to the next one.
HOTB: Unbeweaveable‘s main character Mariah deals with self-esteem issues. Is that a theme in your writing?
Katrina: It looks like it is! In Six O’clock, Yolanda felt inadequate in her thin body in this, ‘bootylicious’ society. In Unbeweaveable, Mariah grew up with a sister who had light skin and long hair–what her standard of beauty is. In both books, both of them were teased mercilessly in school, but where Yolanda internalized her pain, Mariah became a bully, her way of protecting herself from getting hurt.
HOTB: What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Katrina: To read, read, read! Read widely and across genres. Reading helps develop your voice, and teaches you what styles you want to emulate and want styles you want to avoid. Plus, it’s fun.
HOTB: What celebrity hair do you currently love?
Katrina: I’ve got several! I love Salma Hayek,’s hair. Her bob on the cover of the June InStyle magazine is something I’m gearing for this summer. I’ve always been a fan of her style. Jada Pinkett’s hair is always styled beautiful and her hair on the cover of the July issue of Essence magazine describes easy, breezy summer style. Beyonce’s hair stays flawless. Now that’s a true Weavy Wonder, (a woman who rocks a weave regularly). And Victoria Beckham. Does she ever have a bad hair day?
HOTB: How are you currently wearing your hair?
Katrina: I’ve tried just about every style out there, but I have to say that I either prefer my hair really short, or really long. This summer, I plan to give my natural hair a break and rock a textured wavy weave. Don’t worry; I’m not addicted–I do take several breaks wearing my real hair. Healthy hair is really the best look for every woman.
Thanks so much for the interview, Katrina, and good luck with Unbeweaveable.