Trisha Thomas

Trisha Thomas

A decade ago, Random House published "Nappily Ever After," the first in what was to become a overwhelmingly popular series of books about Venus Johnston Parson.

The books by author Trisha Thomas have come to symbolize the complex relationship between black women and their hair.

"Most of you loved her from the moment you met her," says Thomas. "Venus tells our story. Who didn't grow up with hair issues? Right out of the gate we were judged based on our crowning glory. Soon enough we begin to judge ourselves. What our hair is or isn't soon defines who we are. Venus always gets to the root of the matter and that's why she's loved."

This month, she releases "Un-Nappily in Love," in which she faces one of her biggest fears. In the process she gains one of the things she thought she'd lost for good.

In the sixth book, the unflappable and always proudly nappy-haired Johnston Parson discovers once again that life with former rap artist, Jake, can't always be a bed of roses.

The book is getting rave reviews. Publishers Weekly says "Thomas portrays a believable young family tested by real-life concerns and enhanced by the shiny celebrity angle, but it's her wry humor that keeps this delightful series blooming."

NaturallyCurly.com talked to Thomas about her latest book and the power of Venus.

NC: How did the "Nappily" series come about?

Thomas: I wrote the first book in the series ten years ago. I wanted to answer the question: Why are we so obsessed with our hair? Why, especially women of color, are we willing to pay just about any amount of money to be what we’re not? The reason the question even came up was because my daughter came home crying from school after being called "nappy head." I was floored. I couldn’t believe after twenty some odd years, the good hair-bad hair war was still going on from when I was growing up. And was it really going to go on for another twenty, thirty, or fifty years? I started paying attention to all the subtle and not so subtle messages. The TV commercials always touted going from frizzy to straight. Even the main talk shows that were supposed to be empowering women focused on taking a woman’s natural hair and straightening it to make her new and beautiful as if that was the only way to feel good about herself. When would we be happy with our hair? That’s pretty much how the journey began.

NC: Tell me about the latest installment in your series, "Un-Nappily in Love."?

Un-Nappily in Love

Thomas: Venus is about to experience The Big One, something I remember it being drilled into my head from elementary school— an earthquake, not the other Big “O." I think we prepared for earthquakes more than we learned our ABC’s. So when Venus is faced with the biggest challenge she’s ever had, I couldn’t help but remember all those years of training. Not until I was much older did I realize, there is no way you can be prepared for an earthquake. When the foundation you’re standing on is crumbling underneath your feet, and the walls around you are shaking, you pretty much know what to do, run, seek cover, and pray for it to be over. Afterward, you survey the damage and rebuild. This is the metaphor for what Jake and Venus are about to experience in "Un-Nappily In Love."

NC: What do you think has been the evolution of Venus?

Thomas: I’m so proud of Venus and her growth as a woman, mother, daughter and wife. We have so many roles and it’s hard to do all things for all people. This is the story that shows the evolution of Venus, her willingness to stick through the hard parts, learn from her mistakes, and admit when she’s wrong.

NC: How has hair been a symbol in your books?

Thomas: Venus cutting off her hair was the first real decision she ever made based on what she needed, versus what was expected of her. Maintaining her authenticity throughout the series is what makes Venus, Venus. Taking that first leap was the catalyst to accepting and loving herself and it’s the one thing she falls back on. If nothing else she’s learned you have to be true to yourself. From my own experience, I used to say “yes” a lot when I wanted to say “no” only to suffer with headaches, sleepless nights, and stomach pains. Even though our heads are saying yes, our bodies are crying no. I always tried to keep Venus as real as possible so readers could see it wasn’t the end of the world if you stayed true to your beliefs. I always wanted Venus to do and say what was really on her mind.

NC: Do you relate to Venus? If so, how?

Thomas: I totally relate to Venus. Even when I get emails asking how could Venus do this or that, I can answer honestly because I pretty much learn and grow through Venus.

NC: What message would you like your readers to take away from your books?

Thomas: Satisfaction. Acceptance. I want readers to close the last page and feel good about the journey they just experienced. We all deserve to be appreciative of ourselves. No one ever teaches you how to be happy with you. And strangely enough, you’ll never get satisfaction from anything or anyone if you aren’t happy with yourself first.