"No one should be called a defector. I'd like to be called a cultural exchange." --Mikhail Baryshnikov
artwork by Delorys Welch-Tyson
challenging consequences, particularly for a female author.
Who are your favorite authors?
Favorite? I bow to almost anyone who can successfully complete a novel and have some mainstream publisher acknowledge their accomplishments. On the top of my list though, would be John Updike, Erica Jong, James Baldwin; Truman Capote, Terry McMillan, John Irving, Jake Lamar, and Jay McInerney.
What kinds of challenges do you face as a professional writer?
My situation is quite unusual. In only six months after I submitted my first manuscript to Random House Publishers, I receive a book contract. On what they probably wagered on in determining my advance was the “hook” of a thinly-veiled celebrity character and the “hot” trend of what was called “chick lit” books at that time.
In just the first three weeks, I sold 15,000 copies of Gingersnaps. In three months I was in 6th printing. I not only made back my advance but earned a nice piece of change on royalties as well for quite some time. Obviously for my first novel, I had been blessed to have had a top of the line Editor and a “slammin’” Marketing Department in my corner.
The life of my second novel, Ladyfingers was different. Companies changed hands. Then as my second manuscript was submitted, disaster struck with the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, while I was living in France.
Few editors were interested in a comedy about a bunch of Lotto winners and East Samarian bandits getting into all sorts of shenanigans on the French Riviera!
Believe me, no one was laughing over there.
After a while Ladyfingers was finally published, but didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the glamour and fanfare of my debut novel.
How do you deal with critics?
Not very well.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you are looking for commercial success, study the books on the bestseller lists. If you are an artist, write what you want and study the craft. Before becoming successful, take martial arts because there will be all kinds of folks out there waiting to beat you up in dark alleys. Also, don’t let anyone discourage you from writing. I believe that we have an obligation to entertain and inform one another adding to the quality of life.
What projects are your working on now?.
I am working on a third and forth novel, a screenplay and have numerous ideas for future novels. Ladyfingers, as you know is the second installment of what I call my “Cookie Quartet. It will be followed by Almond Cookie and then Macaroons.
I’m sure there will be folks who would challenge the Political Correctness
of all this but…hey…I write satire, you know?
I am also working on a play and novel of science fiction. Ideas are always forming in my head; Also, there is powerful inspiration here on the French Riviera. The world is an interesting place to write about.
Your novels are humorous. Why have you chosen this tone, yet at the same time use your characters to address very serious issues?
I don’t know. It is just how my mind works. I see no reason to depress people while trying to get my message across. Besides, if they don’t get the message at least they will be entertained. I hope.