Thursday, September 5, 2013

One on One with Author Niyah Moore of Major Jazz: A Novel


Our heated passion created some of my best compositions, but I was cursed with my daddy's blood." Major Ingram knew better than to get into a committed relationship. As much as he witnessed the heartbreak his father inflicted upon his mother, he didn't want to make the same mistakes. When his father finally walked out on them for good, his mother was broken. Something he saw and she felt for years. Major didn't want to hurt any women that same way, but it seemed as if he could never tell Sallie Aquino he loved her because there was only one her and that was his music. Major's father was a saxophone player who played the blues. He spoon-fed Major the love of music from the first day he opened his eyes to the world. Though the sax was in his blood, Major fell in love with the ivory and ebony keys the first time he heard a piano. Major developed his own passion with jazz music and by the age of sixteen, he had landed a paying gig at Bop City, an after hours nightclub in Fillmore. Fillmore, the 'Mo, was like Harlem on the bay. Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Duke Ellington all fell into San Francisco the way they had in the Big Apple. Back in '51, the Victorian styled homes, housed finely dressed black people who owned their own businesses from cleaners to restaurants to jazz spots. They worked mornings during the week and enjoyed local and celebrity musicians at night. Up and down Fillmore Street, clubs and restaurants lined up one next to the other. On Friday nights, they went from club to party to bar until the early hours of Monday while music played nonstop. Loosely based on true testimonies, the Fillmore Jazz Era comes back to life through the fictional characters: Major Ingram, Kae Taylor, Sade and Sallie Aquino, and Frank Blue. They made jazz heartfelt through their own stories. This love story just isn't about falling in love, but how they each fell in love with a neighborhood, a scene and her, jazz music. The Fillmore Jazz Era is gone, most of the neighborhood was torn down by the Redevelopment Agency by the 1960's, but it's not forgotten, and the love for Bebop, Jazz, R&B, and Blues music that once existed remains in the heart and soul of Fillmore forever.

1. Introduce yourself.   My name is Niyah Moore and I’ve written three fiction novels, Bittersweet Exes, Guilty Pleasures, and Major Jazz. I’ve contributed to a few anthologies like Zane’s Chocolate Flava 4, Anna J’s Lies Told in the Bedroom, and The Heat of the Night. I’m from Sacramento, California and I love to write.

2. Tell us about your new project.     My latest project is Major Jazz and it’s a fiction novel based on the historical Fillmore Jazz Era in the 1950’s. It’s a project that I’m so very proud of because I really dug into the research to make the novel as authentic as possible. It’s about not only falling in love with one another, but in love with music and the neighborhood before the Redevelopment Agency tore it down.

3. Why was it important for you to tell this story?   I felt it was important to tell this story because few people even knew that there was what they called Harlem of the West. Once it disappeared it was like it didn’t even exist.

4. What is the most important thing you want the reader to learn?   I want the reader to be transported back to that time so they can experience what those musicians experienced back then. I fell in love with the time period and I want others to feel what I felt when I first discovered it.

5. How have you grown as a writer?   As a writer, I have grown so much. I see my own growth. I take constructive criticism with every novel and apply that as I write. I write every single day, but at times I don’t even recognize my own writing. Sometimes, I sit back and say wow, I wrote that. I really have love for the art form. I don’t write to make a whole lot of money or for the attention. I’m in love with words and wordplay.

6. What was the hardest part about creating this story?     The hardest part about it was trying to keep their dialogue authentic. That took the most time for me. I listened to a lot of audio recordings and songs from the 1950’s. Once I channeled myself, it was like I couldn’t stop walking around talking like them. The characters came to life for me and I could hear them clearly after a year.

7. As a writer, what keeps you motivated?     I like to read a lot of classic novels. That’s what I was raised on, so women like Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, and Toni Morrison gives me the motivation to stay true to my craft and to do what I absolutely love to do. In my next novel, I dedicate the whole book to Miss Zora because her folklore way of telling a story is something that drew me in about her writing. I’m attempting to do Folklore with my next one.

8. What is some of the best advice you have received from other writers?    The very best advice I was given was to never stop writing. No matter what happens to me in this business, to keep right on writing.

9. E-books or Paperback, which do you prefer?    I prefer Paperback because I love the smell of the pages and the feel as I turn them. It reminds me of when I was child. I would spend hours and hours in the library until my grandma would come drag me out. Even at home, I would get under the covers and read with a flashlight until I fell asleep.

10. What books are on your shelf to read?    Carl Weber’s The Family Business 2 is one that I’m really looking forward to reading as well as Sister Souljah’s A Deeper Love Inside.

11. What's next for you?   I’m working on an erotic vampire trilogy called After Dark and the Folklore called Beneath the Bayou which will be released in 2014.

12.How can readers get in contact with you?  Email or



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About the Author

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, Niyah Moore was touched at an early age with the precious gem of prose. Under the subtle pushing and guidance of a literary mentor who was well known in the literary industry, Niyah decided to pursue a career in writing professionally. 
One leap of faith jumped into several acknowledgments of talent. Her works include novels, Major Jazz, Guilty Pleasures and Bittersweet Exes; and inclusions in several Award-Winning and Award-Nominated anthologies such as: the 2012 AALAS nominated anthology, Heat of the Night, 2008 AALAS Winning Erotic Anthology, Mocha Chocolate: Taste a Piece of Ecstasy. Niyah's short story "After Dark" is included in the anthology, Zane's Busy Bodies: Chocolate Flava 4. She is also an Honoree of the 2013 Exceptional Women of Color Award of Northern California. Niyah is a mother of two, who loves sharing her love for words with the world.

You can find more information on Niyah at and