PJ Dean told me, ‘I have written all my life but not for publication. Just for me. My mom was a single mother who told me repeatedly that our (Black) people's salvation is education. Not singing. Not dancing. Not sports. "Not everyone has those talents, honey," she'd say "but everyone can learn to read and write and speak correctly." So I did. She is gone now but I see her in every story I write and in every book that I read. That is what I want for African-American children. I'd like for them to learn to love learning. With it, all is possible.’
Tell us about THE FELIG CHRONICLES in a few sentences.
An alien race (The Felig) has invaded Earth. To live, they must absorb a human completely or siphon off the human's life energy. They can shapeshift too. When the story opens, the Felig have been here for several years. The world population lives in a state of total paranoia. No one can trust anyone because no one knows who anyone really is. My African-American heroine and Caucasian hero, Tina and Nate, meet at a time of mutual need. Both have secrets that they want to remain hidden otherwise these secrets might break apart the fledging union. It's a hot, funny, touching story that I hope readers will enjoy.
What qualities do you need to be a successful writer?
I needed to have a vivid imagination. I found it easy to summon that quality because I was raised an only child. Without siblings, a kid has to invent constructive ways to entertain the mind. Tenacity is another. I can't tell you how many people have told me to stop and get additional steady work. There is no such thing in the States right now. Besides, I did the cubicle-sitting gig for 23 years before my whole division's task was outsourced.
What is your working method?
I suppose you'd say "old school." I write on yellow legal pads with pencil, then type into WORD my draft. I try to write late at night or for a bit in the early afternoon.
What is the single biggest mistake made by beginners to writing?
Fudging knowledge of a subject of which the writer is completely clueless. Do the research! Ask somebody. Anybody. I don't think that you have to write what you know, but you do need to read more about it. Hell, my first book was set in Renaissance France. Do you think I'd been there? Hey, don't answer that. I know am old but not that old. I could write it because I had studied it in college. I had READ more about it.
How did you come to write this particular book?
After reading the vampire slayer books by African-American writer, L.A. Banks, I was determined to add my African-American heroine to the mix. Why not a kick-ass Black woman? Why should Lara Croft and Sookie Stackhouse have all the fun? But my girl required a whole new nemesis. No treasure hunters. No vamps. No weres. Something a little more nebulous but just as scary.
If you have a favourite character in your novel, why that particular one?
Can I have two? I'd have to say Moz and Nate. Moz is Tina' s father figure, initially her protector and conscience. He speaks from the Black male perspective. Nate is that wild card that appears when a girl has given up on love. He is everything Tina needs and wants. Even if she doesn't know it. To Moz's consternation, Nate is White.
How can people buy your books?
THE FELIG CHRONICLES, along with my two earlier books (FAITHFUL and KINDRED) are all available from http://www.amazon.com/The-Felig-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B003XREZ8K/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1284549051&sr=1-1 http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b110410/?si=0 http://www.bookstrand.com/search/node/the+felig+chronicles. All are eBooks. All the dot coms carry them. Only FAITHFUL can be found in oversized paperback at http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000023729 under A. Louise Johnson.
To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?
It should be very important but the emphasis is on getting the story out as quickly as possible today. Typos can't be helped sometimes but how plurals are formed can be. Stop it with the apostrophe s please for the plural forms! Drives me crazy. Writers can't rely on spellcheck to catch everything. Spellcheck catches spelling errors not usage errors. Oh Lord! Watch this interview have glaring errors while I'm ranting on.
How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off?
I do two revisions.
Where and when is your novel set and why did you make these specific choices?
I chose a post-apocalyptic America in the near future. Far enough away but close enough to make it feel immediate.
To what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?
I write romance. I am presently experimenting with different types of romance. I usually write historicals with non-Caucasian characters. I am tossing my hat into the Sci-Fi ring with my interracial couple and hoping that readers like the pairing. I just wanted to state that Extasy Books, the Canadian eBook publisher of THE FELIG CHRONICLES, took my manuscript without reservation. Publishers here in the States that I approached wanted more conflict based on race. They wanted less real interaction between Tina and Nate, more of what I saw as stereotypical leanings (inane references to racial differences, stupid slang, etc.)
Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?
No. I avoid writing groups. If you listen to too many cooks you'll end up with THEIR recipe not YOURS.
Is presentation of the MS as important as most agents and publishers suggest?
Follow what the publisher requires for submission. Makes things easier.
How long does it normally take you to write a novel?
Six months. For historicals, nine.
What are your inspirations?
For historicals, I have the book "Timelines in history." Otherwise, I just let it rip.
If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?
Trends. Trends make me nuts. Right now it's vamps. I like vamp stories but I can't write one. I would not be able to bring anything new to the genre. I leave it to others to tackle.
Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?
Anyone can learn writing. It has a set of rules to follow. Storytelling is another matter all together. I tell stories.
What are you writing now?
I am working on Book two of THE FELIG CHRONICLES. I am also working on a spec book. All for Extasy.
Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy?
When I am finished and I know that the readers will have WTF moments when they get it.
Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit?
This is rudimentary. Don't laugh. http://diverseviews.vpweb.com/default.html Also check out http://www.extasybooks.com and www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX2PzGPPkjg for a very amateur video.
Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?
A city loft or a nice farmhouse.
Where do you actually write?
In my cold, overpriced condo. Anybody looking for some cheap real estate?