It's the book that has tongues wagging. Sidechickology is the salacious story of two ministers and their steamy drama-filled affairs that some say are based on true events.
The real question on everyone's mind is: Who is the author, Body of Work who co-wrote this scandalous book with Allison Hobbs? How do the authors have such detailed inside knowledge on the inner-workings of African American churches? And why some black churches want keep people from reading it? I had the opportunity to connect with Body of Work to try to uncover who this masked person is and what events triggered this controversial story.
For those who haven't read this book yet, what is this book about?
Sidechickology is about the two head ministers of The Mighty Fortress Baptist Church in St. Louis. They are whoremongers and man whores who are also materialistic and narcissistic. One is divorced and sleeping his way through half the congregation. The other is married but has a second family and is even cheating on that mistress with other women. They are attractive, brilliant and revered by their congregation and, in their minds, they can do whatever they want and get away with it.
It is about women who knowingly share men and women who believe that if they out-sex the next woman, they will gain the coveted title and crown. It is about men and their side chicks but the men happen to wear robes every week in the pulpit.
What made you partner with Allison Hobbs on this project?
I have always been a fan of Allison Hobbs and, more importantly, I have always been drawn to her kind and calm spirit. She writes about vibrant, freaky characters who embrace the fact that they refuse to live by societal norms. Yet, she is so sweet and quiet in person. She reminds me a lot of myself, except she has always been bold enough to step outside of boundaries while I have been placed in a box by them. Erotica is a new journey for me since I am known for writing more "family friendly" material. I discussed the possibility of writing out of my lane with my publisher several times but they felt it might hinder my progress under my real name.
I met Allison several years ago in NYC at the Book Expo America in the now defunct African-American Pavilion. We hit it off and have keep in contact over time, but we only spoke once or twice a year via email or phone. Then fate intervened earlier this year and we ended up on the phone together, catching up. She made mention that it would be a great idea for us to collaborate (we had joked about it before) and it was the perfect time for both of us. Ironically, we had both recently completed our next novels and turned them into our respective publishers. She said she was taking a short break before starting on her next book, Power Couple, and I was planning on taking a break before starting on my next one, which shall remain nameless.
I ran the idea of Sidechickology by her and she loved it. That was how it took on a life of its own. We had a great time and, if time permits, we shall write together again.
What was your writing process with this book? Where did you come in and Allison come in?
It was rather challenging at first but we figured out an easy process. Since I have never written with a partner before, I suggested that she write two main characters and I write two main characters. I came up with the overall storyline as far as the name and location of the church, the fact that the two ministers were childhood friends who are now frenemies, and then we both fleshed out our individual characters. I wrote Donahue Cambridge III and Koolaidria and Allison wrote Emerson and Danielle Maynard. After that, I did a chapter breakdown where we were each writing odd or even chapters. I wrote the odd and she wrote the even, then I smoothed it out in the end to make sure the transitions were clear and everything meshed together.
How long did it take to complete this book?
I am a quick writer so I wrote my part in about nine days, about 50,000 words and half of the book. Allison took about a month but that was still quite fast.. She enjoyed the challenge of having to write so fast. We were both on kind of a time crunch and I needed to get started on my next book under contract.
This book features the secret life of scandalous preachers. What made you decide to write about them?
They are relevant. Just about every week now, there are scandals breaking in the news regarding minister doing dirt. There was the preacher who was embezzling money from his church to keep his mistress quiet. There was the preacher and his deacon board that were brought up on charges for embezzling money to fund the first lady's singing career. There was the preacher who shot and killed a man right in church after the man confronted him for impregnating his wife. The list goes on and on. Plus, I have always been amazed by congregations who defend their pastors and remain faithful to the church after major scandals break out. They agree to allow church funds to go toward paying out settlements to accusers with solid proof of the actions. It is like they can do no wrong in the eyes of many, and their church members will support all of their cheating, lies, and even molestation of people right there in the church. A lot of them are regarded as gods to the point where people lose sight of the real Higher Power.
It is actually very sad to see it happening so often. I have seen people get infuriated and seemingly ready to physical attack anyone who has the audacity to say something about their ministers. Then I have seen ministers sleep with several people in the church where it is common knowledge and no one seems to care. There was one down south who was sleeping with two cousins in his church at the same time, and both sets of their parents were extremely active in the church. He got one pregnant and she had an abortion and the other tried to commit suicide from a broken heart. He ended up marrying a former stripper after his first wife divorced him after enduring enough. He is still highly regarded but was moved to another church by his bishop. He will not change but only incite havoc at his new church. Much like the ministers in Sidechickology, their basic human nature cannot be changed by a high position in a church.
The things in Sidechickology are based on true actions of tons of ministers. Everyone wants to sweep it under the rug instead of addressing it. As long as they can stomp around the pulpit on Sunday mornings and tell them not to sin, no one cares if they are the biggest sinners in the room.
Are they based on any real people you know?
The actual characters are fictional but they were created in observance of the foolishness that is running rampant in churches throughout the country, and probably the globe. There are definitely preachers who engage in the behavior in the book, even the over-the-top stuff. We just really decided to shine a light on it in an entertaining way. Hopefully, people will recognize the truth in their own church homes after reading it. We are not saying that all ministers do these things. But there are quite a few and that is the truth.
Why do you think so many people are talking about the scenes that happen in this book?
Simple answer: because they jump off the pages and they are real. The sex scenes are on point, sure, but so are all the rest of them. Two hypocrites with ridiculous sex drives and a skewed perception of what it means to be real men. Two men who expect for women to accept their roles and dare not question their behavior or consider it justification to stop dealing with them.
Why did you decide to write under a pseudonym?
Several reasons. Mainly because I do have a successful career under my real name and I don't want to do anything to mess that up. Some of my regular readers would definitely put me on blast for writing such vivid sex scenes and even for all the cursing I do as Body of Work. Plus, the book industry is changing and I want to change with it. There is limited exposure for African-American authors in bookstores and chain stores these days so there is no reason to be stressed out about putting books out as a new author with a major, traditional publisher. Unless you already have an established career, it is practically useless. Now I have that career under my real name but want to see what happens doing it like this. Plus, my novels come out way after I write them in the traditional process. With this self-publishing process, I can publish a book within a matter of weeks or even days after I complete it. So
There are a lot of rumors about who you might be. Will you ever reveal your true identity?
No, never. The entire purpose of me using a pen name is to remain private. It would be defeating the purpose to reveal who I am. I still have a separate, flourishing career under my real name and have books being released in 2016, 2017, and 2018 l already. Body of Work is exciting to me because I can reinvent myself, be the "other person" I want to be, and truly write without judgment. I have no plans to give that up and I don't care if people know whether or I wrote any of it.
Some people say that you're actually a pastor and that this is your life story? Is that true?
I am female so obviously I am not a male pastor sleeping with his congregation. I am rather enjoying people coming up with their theories about my backstory. Rather entertaining but I am so far removed from my normal life and my normal style of writing that I can't see anyone ever figuring it out.
Are you secretly Kirk Franklin? Creflo Dollar? Will you give us some clue?
LOL, no, definitely not them. Again, I am female. If I gave clues, that would be akin to coming out with it because any information would give me away. All people need to know is that I love writing, I plan to continue writing and now I will also be publishing several books under Body of Work.
I can see you're not going to tell us. Where can we get this book?
Right now, the book can be downloaded on Amazon.com and on Barnesandnoble.com. I am new to self-publishing so Allison is helping me figure out how to also offer hard copy books. I have been spoiled by my publisher and never had to get down in the trenches like so many of my counterparts who originally hustled to get their work out there. It is very exciting, though. Look for my next book within a couple of months, tops.
Full disclosure: Body of Work agreed to this interview if the interviewer would not reveal the true identity.