Thursday, 3 August 2017

IN HER OWN WORDS: Creative artist and doting mom Stephanie opens a bold new chapter in her evolving story

IT IS WRITTEN: "This moment means everything to me," shares the singer and first-time author.

LATE afternoon patrons are trickling into Suzie’s Bakery, off Constant Spring Road, to satisfy their sweet tooth, when Stephanie arrives for her interview accompanied by her precious baby girl Madison. It’s been another hectic day in the life of this hardworking single mom, songstress and superwoman who just left the studio and entered a long line of traffic to get here.

By now Stephanie is accustomed to life in the fast lane, as she navigates recording career, parenthood, family life and the latest addition to the ever-expanding résumé: first-time author. That’s why we’re here, braving the sweltering heat on Suzie’s deck, to talk about the project and this latest tangent on her evolutionary curve.

Diary of a Scorpion Lover, Stephanie’s self-published debut is a work of creative non-fiction born from a desire to piece together some of her life experiences and share them with readers. “The book was really inspired by my 20s. I wanted to relate some of the most dynamic and impactful experiences I’ve had because these are stories and conversations that I know will resonate with people; people who are dealing with issues related to love and heartbreak and chasing their dreams,” explains the 30-plus artiste, who feels the semi-autobiographical slant is a plus. 

After all, fans and a large percentage of the general book-buying public crave deeply personal narratives when it comes to the reading material they’ll give their time. “I wanted to do it in a very honest, bold and truthful way, capturing the joys and sorrows, the erotic and the enlightening, so people can see themselves in it,” says Stephanie, who also seized the opportunity to explore some of the relationships that have had meaningful impact on her life. That includes lessons from her mom and walking away from a marriage that was no longer fulfilling. But more on that later. 

In the end, she concedes, Diary of a Scorpion Lover (she’s a Scorpio by birth) is essentially about truth-telling and that lifelong quest to achieve physical and emotional balance. “I think I’ve achieved a very healthy balance with this first book,” says the author who enjoys reading Lisa Kaypas and Jackie Collins. “The sum total of us is balance and how that balance helps to shape our lives.” 

GETTING OUT HER DREAMS 

Since its release over a month ago, the book has garnered strong feedback, with reviews coming in from as far as Chile and Australia. Every copy from the first shipment has been sold (another shipment is due this month), and it’s available for tech-savvy readers via e-book and on Kindle. “The response has been overwhelming, especially on the social media pages,” Stephanie notes, as we sip glasses of lemonade. “My immediate inner circle has been really supportive.” 

Onlookers have always rooted for indie talents like Stephanie Wallace who seldom get the mainstream recognition they deserve but are unrelenting in the face of their hurdles and setbacks. In the span of five years, Stephanie has released two albums and an EP (including a Christmas set), launched her own record label (Havatio Records) and put together a band for overseas tour engagements. 

Now here she is with a brand new book she’s written all by herself. “This moment means everything to me. I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to accomplish and I’ve been sitting on them, seeing other people fulfill their dreams. I had to decide that it was now or never,” she explains. “I had to fight and push through to be able to be in this position speaking my truth, which is the truth of so many. I’m feeling good.” 

Among the other career highlights of which she’s immensely proud: going on tour earlier this year with her good friend Peter Lloyd and releasing her Catharsis album in 2015. And it’s wholly important, she adds, that she keep her eyes on the prize. “My art is not just my voice but also the voice of others,” says the formerly self-managed singer and Ashé alumna, who is now signed with Blacklight Records, based in Montego Bay. “Being proactive is my motto, so that I can bring the rest of my goals and my dreams to fruition.” 

MOMMY DEAREST 

Becoming a mom was also a dream come for Stephanie whose daughters Sharlize and Madison are now 12 and six years old respectively. She calls them her little girlfriends. “I enjoy it so much; watching my kids grow up. [Sharlize, now in second form at Queen’s] is at that age where she’s able to do a lot on her own, without my supervision. She’s a smart and intelligent young lady. We’re more like sisters now,” the doting mommy tells us with a chuckle. “It’s so much fun. We share a lot of the same things. We’re girlfriends really.” 

Stephanie is no longer in a relationship with Stephen, the girls’ father to whom she was married for three years. It’s complicated. Irreconcilable differences eventually drew them apart. But they’ve vowed to remain in each other’s lives for the sake of their girls. Stephanie declines to go into detail about the split, but she does offer this: “That situation has given me more than it has taken away from me.” (Efforts to contact Stephen for a comment for this article proved futile.) 

In any case, Stephen’s continued support goes a long way in easing some of the pressure of single motherhood. “We coparent very well,” she says. “So the girls have a very good example of adults getting along.” 

Another good example she is determined to provide for her daughters has to do with her dating life. Stephanie is currently single and decidedly so. “Between being a full-time mom, doing my music and growing my brand, it’s a whole lot,” she confesses. “It’s important for me to lay back from the dating scene. I want my girls to see me navigate that aspect of my life in a very courageous way. I want them to see me being strong and independent in spite of the challenges.” 

These days, Stephanie’s plate is full to overflowing, but she would have it no other way. It’s the path she’s chosen – being a multifaceted queen wearing multiple hats. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far,” she says reflectively, “is that in doing all these things, I have to see them through to the end.” 

> BOOK LOVER: Stephanie shares 5 of her favourite titles






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