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New York Times bestselling author reads her debut novel at TSU

Written by on April 19, 2023

By Jamarion Owens and Jerry LeDoux III

On April 17, New York Times bestselling author Leila Mottley visited Texas Southern University to read from her debut novel, Nightcrawling, and promote her Nighcrawling Paperback tour.

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley

The Oakland, CA native told TSU students and faculty that her novel is fiction but inspired by true events. She said the novel tells the story of a young Black woman who was sexually abused by a group of police officers in East Oakland.

“This young poet Leila Mottley wrote a soul-searching portrait of survival and hope,” Oprah Winfrey said in a statement to Associated Press. Winfrey selected Nightcrawling as her Oprah Book Club Pick, making Mottley the youngest writer in the Oprah book club.

Leila Mottley holding her New York Times bestselling debut novel. Photo by RTF major Joshua Molock.

Mottley, who was named Oakland’s Youth Poet Laureate in 2018, began writing at the young age of 14 and wrote Nightcrawling at 19 years old.

She read from her book in TSU’s School of Communication and gave insights into the novel’s backstory.

“It was inspiring hearing her speak, especially the way she drew us all in with her words,” Broadcast Journalism student Amber Land said. “Knowing she wrote the book as a teenager made me respect her as a creative writer even more.”

Students and faculty were able to ask questions about her writing process and how she became a writer.

Photo by Christopher Severan

Those in attendance were also able to get a signed copy of their book.

As TSU welcomed poet and novelist Mottley, she informed everyone in attendance of her upcoming events in addition to the one that would take place later that night.

Mottley will continue her Nightcrawling Paperback Tour in Los Angeles, Calif., San Rafael, Calif., and Miami, Fla.

Leila Mottley signing her paperback book ‘Nightcrawling’ at Texas Southern University. Photo by RTF major Joshua Molock.