With four best-selling novels published between 2000 and 2002, Bernice L. McFadden has garnered accolades from literary powerhouses like Toni Morrison and Terry McMilllan. Her debut, the emotionally-gripping Sugar, earned a handful of awards and elicited comparisons to the work of Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston. Though she had always dreamed of becoming a writer, it wasn’t until she was laid off from her cushy corporate job that she began writing seriously. “I really felt like a statistic,” McFadden told USA Today. “A young, single black mother with no job. I didn’t like the way that felt.” She took advantage of her time off to throw herself into writing and it paid off. Within a few years she no longer needed to worry about her corporate career; she had become a successful full-time writer.