One of the first locations introduced in The Diamond Collection is the fictional Brookstone University. Located in East Brookstone, New York, the school is one of the primary settings in Diamonds in the Rough. Carmen, Tiara, Monifah, and Rakim are all attendees although none of them will graduate with degrees from the school for various reasons.
The university is heavily modeled after my alma mater, Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC). This is only natural since I wrote the first two books while in attendance (I attended Winthrop from August of 2003 to December of 2007). There are only two differences between the two. The first difference is that one school is fictional and the other is not. The second difference is that Winthrop is located in a small city while Brookstone University is located in a large city. In terms of the structure of Brookstone University, I did not describe the buildings or the campus. If I had of, the buildings would’ve been very similar to those on Winthrop’s campus. For example, Gardner Hall (which is mentioned at the very beginning of the novel- it is the place where Carmen meets Tiara before they head to the diner) represents Kinard Hall. There is also a nameless auditorium where Carmen meets Tiara to discuss the possibility of her being intimate with Jay. This building could very well be Byrnes Auditorium.
As for similarities, both universities have the presence of Greek Life. This part of the story came from the fact that I joined Sigma Gamma Rho in 2005 and wanted to incorporate Greekdom into my novel. In the book, Carmen’s mother, Patricia Davenport, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta and Rakim is looking to pledge the fictional Theta Beta Psi Fraternity.
When the book first came out in 2010, I got the question of why Carmen’s mother was a Delta. Well, the honest answer is that I felt that if she was a Sigma Gamma Rho, it would be expected. I decided to go against the grain and make her a Delta. I also knew that if I ever wanted to create conflict between Carmen and her mother, one of the causes could be that Carmen became an honorary woman of Sigma against her mother’s wishes. This would only contribute to the strife that will already have formed between the two.
Next, the decision to create a fictional brotherhood for Rakim came during the editing process of Diamonds in the Rough. Originally, Rakim was pledging Omega Psi Phi. There is also a scene in the book where Carmen goes to Rakim’s house, sees his line brothers there, and they discuss brief details of his pledge process. I didn’t want to attribute hazing, an illegal activity, to any organization that was a part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) so I decided to create a fictional organization. By using Theta Beta Psi, the image of NPHC and Omega Psi Phi remained protected.
Since I am on the subject of Greek Life, I thought it would be only fair to disclose that the original version of The Ace of Diamonds focused on Carmen’s daughter, Kristian, pledging a fictional sorority, Lambda Pi Omega. Whether or not, I will keep this same story, but introduce it with new characters and as a book that is not part of the Diamond Collection is up in the air. For right now, it shall remain in my vault of unfinished works.
Something else you want to know about Brookstone University? Leave a comment!