Vogue, born April L. Blanding, is a 2007 graduate of Winthrop University possessing a Bachelor's degree in Social Work. Born and raised in Greenville, SC, Vogue moved to Rock Hill, SC in 2003 to attend Winthrop University and decided to make it her home after graduating.
Upon entering college, she began focusing her attention on songwriting, but eventually birthed the idea of The Diamond Collection. In 2003, she challenged herself to write ten novels with the first being Diamonds in the Rough, which was not completed until 2007.
In March of 2010, Vogue signed with Passionate Writers Publishing to release her first novel, Diamonds In The Rough. Currently, she is writing and editing Black Diamonds, the fourth book in the series.
Carmen Davenport is living the American dream. Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she has anything that a twenty-one year old college student would want. This includes an inheritance to one of the most lucrative clothing companies in New York. The only thing missing is love until she lays eyes on Jay Santiago, a Puerto Rican drug lord. During their courtship, Carmen learns that Flame, Inc. is headed towards a downward spiral. Too ambitious to allow her dream to go down the drain, Carmen begins pulling at all lifelines to save her company. Putting aside everything she’s ever believed in, Carmen soon finds herself entangled in a web of lies, betrayal, and crime.
Character Interview with Carmen Davenport
Vogue: When we are first introduced to you, you come across as a sheltered young woman with strong values and morals until you become romantically involved. Why do you believe that some women, including yourself, allow themselves to sink so far into a relationship that they sometimes lose themselves?
Carmen: Well, first off, I don’t believe that the decisions that I made were a direct reflection of the relationship I was in. My boyfriend was a drug dealer, but he wanted to protect me from his business not get me involved. Being twenty-one years old, I know right from wrong and am able to make my own decisions even if I don’t always make the right choices. However, with some women, there is the fear of being alone, which forces them to stay in unhealthy situations. Everyone wants to be loved and feel accepted, which is why some women believe that a part of a man is better than no man at all. Those are the women who run the risk of losing themselves because of their relationship.
Vogue: So what kind of influence did your boyfriend have on you if you don’t think it was negative? Let’s keep in mind that you were dating Jay Santiago who ran one of the biggest drug cartels in America.
Carmen: Jay showed me a different side of life. My parents kept me protected from everything. I grew up in a wealthy neighborhood and all I knew was school and church. When I met Jay, he shared things with me that I thought only happened in the movies. He had seen so much starting at an early age that a lot of things were second nature to him. It is because of his childhood that he has anger and trust issues. When I betrayed him, these issues just went to a level ten. To be honest, I had more of a negative effect on him than he did on me.
Vogue: Well, did he influence you business-wise? You both are entrepreneurs. You inherited your mother’s clothing store, Flame, and he owns a club, Sapphire, which are both located in Brookstone, New York. What advice do you give to people who are looking to be their own boss?
Carmen: The first thing I generally tell people is that you have to be an ambitious and determined individual. That is a given. That is also something that Jay taught me. He wanted to see me work harder for the store, which is why he refused to give me any money or become a silent partner. You also have to know your market. Fashion and trends change all the time. You have to keep up with it and study your craft. As long as you keep giving quality product and service, the people will come.
Vogue: Inheriting a failing business that was headed to bankruptcy had to be hard. You said that all you knew growing up was school and church. Where was your faith during this time? Was it nonexistent?
Carmen: You can describe it as being nonexistent. I was blind during that time. All I saw was the goal I was trying to reach and I got lost in this new world I was experiencing. There were times when I did think about what I was doing and I told myself that I was going to stop. I just never did until it was too late. Now that I think about it, I didn’t have any faith. I took matters into my own hands instead of waiting on God. From going through that experience, my faith has definitely grown. If it wasn’t for God, I wouldn’t have made it out.
Vogue: What do your parents say about your current situation?
Carmen: Initially, they were very upset because they knew they raised me better. They had moved to Dallas so they were unaware of everything I was involved in. My mother did have her suspicions, but she never expected for things to end like it did. Since, I’m their only child, they supported me, but I knew I had disappointed them. Right now, I’m just working to gain back their trust.
Vogue: Speaking of trust, you said your actions affected your boyfriend’s trust issues. Where does your relationship stand right now with Jay? Are you working to gain back his trust?
Carmen: Due to our current situation, we do not speak. We don’t have any communication. I would like to apologize and have a conversation with him, but at the moment, it is not possible.
Vogue: What do you want people to get from your story?
Carmen: I don’t want people to view my story as the answer to how they need to reach their goals and dreams. I don’t want people to make the same mistakes that I did. I don’t have any regrets because all of my experiences have helped me to make me a better person, but I will never people to do what I did. I want people to see my ambition, take that, and use it in a positive manner.
What do you think of Carmen Davenport?
Diamonds in the Rough can be purchased from:
Passionate Writer Publishing
Barnes and Noble
Books A Million
Vogue’s official website: www.simplyvogue.net