Monique Kelley firmly believes in ever-broadening her horizon. “I always like to tell people,” she says, “if your dreams don’t scare you… you’re not dreaming big enough!” Accordingly, she’s made her debut as a novelist with “Reality in Chaos” (Black Rose Writing).
Kelley has already carved out a career as a media presence of consequence. She started in 2013 with the successful blog “Confessions of a Serial Dater in L.A.,” chronicling the pitfalls of dating-life-after-divorce and since then, the audience has steadily grown.
Gathering a head of steam, she cultivated a still-stronger voice among single L.A. sistas, establishing a persona whose profile today includes “Access Live” (NBC), “California Live” (NBC), “Good Day L.A.” (FOX) and “The Tamron Hall Show” (ABC). She’s also been featured in Essence, L.A. Confidential and over TV One.
“Reality in Chaos” chronicles the tumultuous, trials and travails of the upscale sista, focusing on a trio of friends, Simone Monroe, Taylor Ross, and Jackie McKinley going back to graduation day at Hampton University in 1999.
Simone reflects on her marriage, “What started as the fairytale courtship was beginning to crumble. I found myself fighting to make him stay in love with me and see things my way.
“Despite these potholes during our engagement, a year-and-a-half later, I found myself walking down the aisle looking at the man of my dreams standing at the altar. I felt like we’d ironed out all of our kinks prior to the wedding and all would be just fine now that we were married.”
That, of course, did not turn out to be the case. Indeed, the three find themselves contending with life’s unforeseen twists and turns. Taylor, a gifted artist, is at a career crossroads. Jackie must decide whether fame, fortune, and all the rest of it are worth sacrificing her integrity. Anyone who enjoyed the spirited camaraderie of homegirls in the UPN hit “Girlfriends” will find “Reality in Chaos” worth a look-see.
The MSR interviewed Monique Kelley (MK) about her craft and career.
MSR: What prompted you to move into writing fiction?
MK: I had been writing my blog for seven years at that point. And I loved writing [it]. But writing a blog is somewhat limiting because there are certain things that you want to write about but can’t because the fear of being judged.
When I decided to write a book, I knew I wanted to write a novel because they were so many different places I could take it. I wanted to focus on sisterhood and friendships. And it was important to me that I talked about marriage, divorce, mental illness, unmet expectations, and all those things that were modern-day issues to Black women and women in general.
MSR: Are Terry McMillan, Connie Briscoe and the other authors you’ve been compared to actually influences?
MK: Terry McMillan paved the way with her honesty and unapologetic way that she brought the Black female voice to life. I will always love Connie Briscoe because I felt she touched on the upscale Black woman and showed the world that there is a Black elite society. And Bebe Moore Campbell was a close family friend. Her ability to tug at the heartstrings and expose the inner turmoil in people was done brilliantly. Those three women have had a major influence in how I write. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my two favorite late-great male authors: E. Lynn Harris and Eric Jerome Dickey. They knew how to reach a female audience with such empathy and compassion.
MSR: How rewarding has the initial reception been thus far?
MK: I am honored and humbled by the buzz that “Reality in Chaos” is generating. And happy to be the new modern-day voice to the Black female experience.
MSR: What’s next?
MK: I plan on writing the sequel to “Reality in Chaos.” I am starting that process in the next few weeks. I have to strike the iron while it’s hot. I want to continue being a vessel for today’s woman. My entire journey started from my own pain that I turned into a purpose. At that time, I did not realize the extent of how far my purpose would reach.
But now that I am here, and I see the need I plan on being a voice for those women and someone that they can relate to and look at and know that they can get through anything. And that they can conquer any hardships in their life and turn it into a positive. So, I want to continue helping women, writing more great novels, bringing great TV content, having my own talk show, and just living out every single dream that I have ever imagined.
For more info about “Reality in Chaos,” got to realityinchaos.com. To learn more about
Monique Kelly’s projects, visit confessionsofaserialdaterinla.com and follow her on Instagram or TikTok @cocktailsandconfessions.