Written by Chonise Bass
The newly released debut novel, Am I in Love, takes readers on a journey familiar to us all. The main character, Keena, brings us with her as she discovers the meaning of love, her identity, and personal conviction; but what is not automatically evident is that Keena and author Troynecia Burden share much of the same wisdom, and it was the latter’s lived testimonies that brought the fictional character to life.
As it is the first of three books, it begins with a sure bang: "In part one Keena is thirteen,” Burden describes, "and it’s basically her journey of finding love and learning exactly what love is.” While the novel carries such themes like faith, love, and redemption, it also provides a character that is incredibly relatable and engaging. “The story begins with her, and she was expelled already. You can instantly see how much of a troublemaker she is, and the circumstances that come around her. She’s very tough, and kind of ventures out for herself, but she elevates from being that troubled young girl to growing as she gets older. It’s a bunch of elements like 'what’s real', 'what looks good, but isn’t actually good for you', and 'what is really for you, but you can’t accept it even when it’s right in front of your face.’ "
As she matures from adolescence, Keena undergoes a metamorphosis, much like Troynecia as she was writing this story. Beginning at age thirteen as well, she sought out any type of artistic outlet that would guide her through her teenage years. After basketball didn’t quite work out, she turned to writing and it has served as her therapy ever since. “It gave me more of a purpose in life,” she clarified. "I started being serious about writing, and I started writing this book around that time.” Because Troynecia spent 10 years crafting Am I in Love, she had no choice but to let her words reflect her own growth, and the plot and characters are stronger because of that.
Writing is one of the ways she shows the world what she’s thinking, but it is not the only. On the side, she has a YouTube channel, and she’s an actress-all before 30 years old. Not all of her interests are streamlined towards romance; the YouTube channel is specialized in her K-pop (popular music originating from South Korea) video reactions, which has over a thousand views. "I have been, one by one, discovering new artists and it’s a lot, in that world,” she mentions, after explaining the genre. It’s this type of creative process that sets Troynecia apart; she recognizes that she has an interest in something different, and instead of hiding behind any type of previous insecurities, she showcases her genuine fascination to the world.
What bridges all of her various art forms together? Her life experiences. Through each medium, she reflects her truth, and while each skill might seem completely different than the last, they are all rooted in her commitment to sharing what she can do.
Her advice to other artists, whether they are writers, actors, or YouTube stars? “Mainly, don’t live in fear. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, because that’s basically what comes with the territory. You can’t be a writer, be an actress, be anything really without putting what you have out there. Allow it to become something you’re happy with, something that you’re pleased with, and put it out there to the world. Let it go, and never give up.”
Through her reflective art, it is extremely evident that versatility and transparency take center stage. Without either, nothing remains substantial.