Episode 69 - Leila Mottley
CW: Nightcrawling, the novel we discuss during this episode, is about a teenage victim of sexual exploitation.
Leila Mottley is an impressive young woman. At 16, she was chosen as Oakland's youth poet laureate. While still in high school, she started writing her novel, Nightcrawling, which would become an Oprah's Book Club selection and a New York Times bestseller along with receiving a laundry list of accolades.
I caught up with Leila back in November ahead of her appearance on a panel at the Miami Book Fair.
Nightcrawling tells the story of 17-year-old Kiara Johnson, a teenage girl living in Oakland, who has to fend for herself after her dad dies and her mother is sent to prison. She has an older brother, but he doesn't step up to support her. This all comes as she has taken on the responsibility of caring for a boy in the neighborhood whose mother is lost to drug addiction. To make ends meet, Kiara turns to prostitution, which makes her an easy target for sexual exploitation by police officers in her community.
The novel was inspired by a true case of sexual exploitation of a minor by police officers in Oakland.
This story will tear you up inside. It's beautifully written, but it's not something you can read quickly. I had to put the book down several times because I was so disturbed by the abuse Kiara experiences.
During our interview, Leila reveals...
- Why she wanted to explore what it means to be unprotected as a Black teenage girl
- How she came up with a rough draft of the novel in less than three months
- The "great" novels she's never read and why she may never read them
You can listen to the episode here and help Leila and the show by purchasing Nightcrawling on our site.
The first listener to reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter to tell us the name of the author whose books Leila reads over and over again will win a free copy of Nightcrawling.
If you've won a ReadMore giveaway in the last 90 days, you're ineligible. If you and I ever saw the orange drop at Bayfront Park together, you're probably ineligible. ReadMore doesn't have a friends and family plan. But we'll always have the memories of the downtown Miami skyline.