By Jessica Travis

For recent SUNY Cobleskill graduate Talehia McCants, writing with passion makes all the difference. “Write how you feel, don’t write what you think people are going to buy. When you write what you love and do it with passion, that’s when you become successful,” reveals McCants. This outlook was key in making it possible for McCants to transcend from college student to successful published author with her first novel, Paradise and Nightmares, published by Pleasure Principle Publications. While some may aspire to one day publish a book, often within a later timeframe of their lives, McCants is an example of how dedication, passion, and the right support system make it possible to achieve your dreams no matter what age or circumstance.

Traditionally, writers often dedicate a large amount of time to piecing together their work, then spend their time hoping to grab the attention of one, if not several publishers; possibly seizing a deal if they are lucky. Not unlike most aspects of McCants’s situation, the opportunity to publish a book of her own was an exciting and pleasantly unexpected experience. “One day I was on a Facebook Page dedicated to a publishing company I really liked. I posted a comment on their wall – not expecting anything from it. The next thing I know one of their editors is contacting me and asking if I’d like to write my own book,” she said. What was a true “pinch me” moment then still completely awes McCants, “I call my publisher all the time and ask him if I really have a book out of my very own. I still can’t believe it’s real.”

McCants’ debut novel, Paradise and Nightmares, is a fictional story inspired by a homeless man who resided on a block in her residence of Brooklyn, NY, who many believed this man to be homeless, this individual was in fact very wealthy. McCants spent weeks writing her story about a clandestinely wealthy woman, Harmony, and her relationship with a troubled young man, Romance. Though it was sometimes difficult to juggle school work and personal writing, McCants found confidence with the support and praise from faculty and staff at SUNY Cobleskill.

Among the numerous faculty members who regularly expressed their strong belief in McCants and her exemplary writing skills, McCants recalls SUNY Cobleskill Assistant Professor of Composition and Communications Dr. Douglas MacLeod Jr. as one of her most supportive advocates to continue strengthening her writing. “Dr. MacLeod really helped me be descriptive in my writing and he was always an advocate for paying attention to the audience.”

“I am so very proud of Talehia and her accomplishments. Knowing her, I have no doubt that she will continue to be successful; she is a wonderful person that deserves nothing but the best,” said Dr. MacLeod. “I always knew her as being a descriptive storyteller. I am elated to hear that her talents are being recognized by others.”

The second novel in McCants’ Paradise and Nightmares series is slated for release sometime during summer 2014. The possibility of a part three is currently uncertain. “I’m not sure if there will be a third book in the series. I would love to write another book completely separate. I don’t want to be just the Paradise and Nightmares author forever,” remarks McCants. Among her ambitions to continue being a published author, she would like to attend graduate school and become a mental health counselor. Above all, one of McCants’s dreams may bring her right back at SUNY Cobleskill. “I want to return to SUNY Cobleskill and speak to students. I would love to motivate them to follow their dreams and do it with passion.” Students and non-students alike will surely be hearing more from McCants in the future.