A Well Read Writer

  • I began writing when I was nine years old to make sense of my dysfunctional childhood. I knew that I would write it some day- that day was decades later. First it took me decades to make sense and come to terms with the abuse I suffered as a child and decades more to write about it. When I started to write my debut, novel, CRACKED, I knew that I didn’t want to write a memoir because I felt what had happened to me wasn’t that unusual or significant. I did have a message and that message was to show the connection between addiction and early childhood trauma. So, CRACKED, is an entertaining look in the psychopathology of addiction . The reader, like the protagonist, Lulu St. Blanc, makes the connection between trauma and addiction during a series of therapy sessions.
  • Tell us about the main character in your novel, CRACKED?
  • I created a very flawed character in Lulu St. Blanc. She is a psychological mess. She is terrible with relationships, yet on the outside she appears to have it all together. I wanted women/men to begin to understand and relate to this character and in the process find empathy for her and for themselves.
  • Do writers lead normal lives?
  • I don’t have a “normal” life because I am a writer. My life is not “normal” because of who I am and the journey my life has taken. I was legally emancipated when I was sixteen years old. I went to college at 17 and Law School when I was 36 years old. In between college and law school I was a television news journalist. I’ve been married 3 times- divorced twice and widowed once. None of this has to with being a writer. I became a writer in response to my “ abnormal” life . After all, it makes for interesting writing material.
  • Is it a misconception that writers are socially inept?
  • I don’t know a lot of writers, but I cannot imagine that writers as a group are socially inept. First of all writers are linguistically creative. Successful writers hold readings and book signings and conduct radio, television and print interviews.  These activities require social dexterity. So, no, writers are not socially inept.
  • Who are your favorite authors?
  • When I’m not writing I am reading. I read a wide variety of books, but a short list of my favorite writers are Isabella Allende, Amy Tan, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Patricia Cornwall, Zaidie Smith, Umberto Eco, Leon Uris, Scott Turow, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin, Ta-hinsi Coates, Walter Mosley, Dean Koons, Stephen King and John Grisham.
  • What book do you wish you could have written?
  • There are so many books that I wish I had authored, if I had to choose only one it would be The Color Purple. This  book deals with ugly subjects, incest, rape, child abuse, lies, betrayal- yet in the end the main character, Celie, regains her lost children, finds her sexuality and creates a successful business based on self acceptance. It’s a great work which won a Pulitzer Prize and which was made into a great movie. In addition, to this I shared similarities with Celie, so the book had additional meaning to as a reader.
  • How hard is it to write a book?
  • Writing is hard work. It’s difficult to go from a concept to fleshing out that concept with believable characters whose dialogue and actions forward a plot and storyline that culminates in a message that’s worth buying and reading. Also, as a writer if you don’t leave some sweat, blood and tears in your work- which you experience as you write-then your readers won’t experience them either.
  • What is your favorite means of writing?
  • I am so glad that I became a writer during the age of the computer, otherwise I might not have done so. Writing is really about editing-paring down to its essence the message you want to convey. I edited what I thought was my “finished”manuscript four times. I’m not sure I would have been willing to edit my novel so many if I had to do it by hand
  • Is it true that writers are loners?
  • Writing is a solitary profession and perhaps thats why people assume we are loners- meaning people who prefer to be alone. I don’t prefer being alone and I have friends who are as busy as I am and we get together whenever we can- but being a loner- I don’t think so.
  • Are the characters in your book based on real people?
  • Of course, my characters are modeled after myself and people in my life. I wouldn’t be the first writer to do this and I won’t be the last. DH Lawrence was said to have written Women in Love so closely to his real life experience that his characters were identifiable. Hopefully I have not and will not do that.
  • Is the main character in your novel CRACKED you?
  • No, Lulu St. Blanc me is not me, but that character and I are both lawyers, both former television news journalist and both of us became crack addicts- but no she is not me.
  • Is it a misconception that writers are rich?
  • Very few writers become rich or famous or well known. If you want to be rich go into IT. Writing is a crazy labor of love that is often time thankless, and without compensation. In fact it’s cost me more to write than I’ve earned- but I still love it and will continue to write.
  • Have you ever experienced writer’s block?
  • Yes, I have experienced “writer’s block” however I imagine it must be different for every writer. No, I don’t sit unable in front of the computer. My version of writer’s block occurs in the same way I am about excercise or almost anything in my life- at times I just don’t.
  • Why?
  • I might be too tired or not have enough time. I might be both because I have yet to transition to being a full time writer. I still support myself practicing a very low-paying in-constant form of law called “document review”. While low paying I never have to go to court, communicate with clients, have an office or business cards. However it is mind numbing and boring.
  • How do you intend to make the transition from lawyer to writer?
  • Besides writing a best seller, which I hope to do, in the mean time, I’ve drastically reduced my living expenses. Because, this  document review work is not readily available where I live, Baltimore, I have a three hour commute and work a lot of low paying hours.
  • What are you currently writing?
  • I have three books in progress and an idea for a fourth. I will write each and everyone of them. The book that I will complete first is RESILIENT, which is the sequel to CRACKED. The other two books in the incubator are about the light/skin dark skin dynamic in the black community. That book is tentatively entitled, Yellow Girl. The third book is about the education of the freed slaves after the Civil War. It is tentatively entitled Twisted.
  • Why do you write?
  • What I aspire to do with my writing is to raise social awareness in the subject matters that I write about- addiction, mental illness, education and  racial, and relationships.  I want people to understand the pain of stigma and to think before stigmatizing someone because of a mental illness, a disability, skin color or addiction.
  • What does success look like for you?
  • Success for me as a writer would be to earn a living from my writing and to raise social awareness about the issues I write about.
  • What advice would you give a new writer?
  • Keep writing. Find a good editor. Go to work shops and learn as much as you can about the world of agents and publishing.
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