April Sinclair was raised on Chicago's South Side where one of her early messages must have been: If you want something, go for it. She earned her bachelor's degree at Western Illinois before moving to California where she worked as a community activist in Oakland for 15 years. She also took graduate courses at San Francisco State. When she had written just 20 pages of her first novel, "Coffee Will Make You Black," she decided to give a public reading. She called a bookstore and volunteered herself as a reader. The owner agreed. Sinclair then distributed hundreds of fliers and prepared for her first public reading.