Tj Baker Is First Interview For New Romance Site
Wednesday, February 20, 2002 2:40:00 PM
by Tj Baker
|Erotic Expressions.net, the new online romance site interviews young writer Tj Baker.
Gary: When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Tj: Iím going to make this funny story short. I was about 13 - years old and I ran away from home. I ran one block away to a friends house. I wrote my mother a letter and in the letter I informed her that I was mad at her and despite the fact that I was no longer under her roof, she was still responsible for giving me my allowance. I had the nerve to tell her to mail the money and don't be late! My mother saved that letter and it serves as my first short story.
Gary: Did you like to read as a child?
Tj: Yes. I read anything and everything that I could get my hands and eyes on.
Gary: Who were some of the people who inspired you as a child?
Tj: This may sound strange, but the spirits of the past who lived in the library and media Centers called my name in Joliet, Illinois, where I grew up. Our community had an awesome library and that's where I would go to escape. A few times I got so involved in a story that I didn't hear the ten minute warning that they were closing the building and got locked inside the library a few times. The library staff was not happy because they had to come back to the library and sign off on the police reports. I soon became known as 'book prowler.' Books really captivated me mentally. I knew early on that I would always find peace in books and in the library.
Gary: How much of your personal life is reflected in your work?
Tj: None! But then againÖ
Tj: Well what? What's your next question?
Gary: How would you describe your style of writing?
Tj: Haunted metaphors on an oiled canvas picture.
Gary: OK? What 's the hardest part of being a young writer?
Tj: I think the hardest part of being a young writer is getting a broad range of people to accept my different styles of writing. I believe, Iím related somehow to Edgar Allen Poe. As they say history does repeat itself.
Gary: What's the easiest part of being a young writer?
Tj: (Laughing) I feel free to write about anything. I have no boundaries, especially self-imposed boundaries. I don't feel boxed in.
Gary: When it comes to music, who are some of your favorite artists?
Tj: I have a wide range of musical tastes ranging from The Mills Brothers to Phyliss Hyman. I also love Anita Baker and your featured artist Peter White. Music helps put me into a mood. Then there are times when I need absolute quiet.
Gary: What is your favorite poem?
Tj: I'm sorry, I could never select one poem and limit myself. I like them all, some better than others, but they all have meaning to me.
Gary: How would you best describe your novel "The Teachings Of Miss Ellie Ruth?"
Tj: A combination of captured innocence, growing pains and beauty. If you haven't done so, you'll have to read the book to see what that means.
Gary: I read the book. I think I know what it means.
Gary: I understand that you were the first black person to graduate from Texas Southern University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. Is that true ?
Gary: Tell me about that experience.
Tj: Well first of all, I need to give a lot of credit to Sam Houston State University Theater Department and Dean Miller. I would have completed my studies there, since I pledged Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated in 1990, but my mother became ill and I went back home to Houston to help take care of her. After she got better I transferred to Texas Southern University. While I was there three other students and I were offered to be in a (BFA) Bachelor of Fine Arts program that was adopted from Prairie View A and M. That program was very hard for me. I cried a lot of tears. I was trying to hide an epileptic related mental disability that made expressing myself in writing very difficult. I never gave up and worked hard. I was really proud of myself. In the end, I was the only student in the group who completed the program. In 1993, I received a standing ovation when Dr. James Ward, Dean of the Communication Department of TSU honored me at an Awards Banquet for outstanding achievement and excellence. I was indeed the first Black and female student to finish the program and with honors because I held a 3.5 grade average in my major.
Gary: Outstanding! I can tell by looking at your that this was indeed a proud moment in your life. Congratulations!
Tj: Thank you.
Gary: Growing up, what was your earliest or most vivid recollection of being different?
Tj: My elders used to tell the story about the day I was born. As the story goes, an horrible unexpected hurricane hit Mississippi. There was a lot of "drama" that day and drama has followed me ever since.
Gary: What day were you born?
Tj: September 11th. Need I say more?
Gary: No. I understand. My youngest son was born on the same day.
Tj: Then you know what I'm talking about.
Gary: Do you have a support network?
Tj: Yes. I have been fortunate to have a support family and a great network of friends throughout the years.
Gary: What advice would you give to aspiring young writers?
Tj: This response is for all young writers, not just female writers. Good writing appeals to people of all backgrounds. I would suggest that young writers submit their work in contests. All it costs you is a stamp. What you get in return is priceless. Don't get too hung up on whether anyone is going to steal your work. Get your work copyright protected as soon as you can. Keep your focus on learning to be a better writer. I'm still trying to learn as much as I can. As you grow and develop, don't worry, you'll write something phenomenal. Last, but not least, mail your submission to yourself in a sealed envelope with an abbreviation on the outside of the envelope detailing the contents. Never open it unless itís in front of a judge.
Gary: I know that you work with children. What's the best thing about working with children?
Tj: Iím always learning from children. To me they motivate grown-ups to find new ways to do things and not get bored.
Gary: Do you have any superstitions or special rituals?
Tj: Yes, actually I do. Before we leave to start our busy day, my son and I take turns to say a prayer about our blessings and asked for strength to handle unforeseen circumstances. My son is four years old. This 3 minute special time of ours has really increased his motor and thinking skills. As a single mom, Iíll take any available moment to be with him. Call me selfish if you must.
Gary: In that case, its OK to be selfish. You won't get any complaints out of me. That's a great ritual.
Tj: Thank you, we think so.
Gary: What else would you like to do that you haven't been able to do?
Tj: I've been an educator for 10 years. I want to leave the classroom and transition to being a motivational speaker, but still being closely tied to education. Iíve already started. I did a speech last week for Black History Month. I was honored to be the first Black author to speak at a Fort Bend Independent School in Houston, Texas. 220 students heard me speak. After the presentation the students hugged and thanked me. After that, I immediately knew what I wanted to do next in my career.
Gary: We're near the end of this interview. Is there anything that you would like our readers to know?
Tj: I am working on a new project with my son. "Home Is Where You Catch Falling Leaves" co-written with my son. Also the revised edition of my novel "The Teachings of Miss Ellie Ruth" will be out soon. Another project that I'm working on is called "Just A Regular Man's Thoughts From Troy's Diary."
Gary: If you could describe your writing style in one word, what word would you use?
Tj: One word? "DIFFERENT". Since this interview is for Erotic Expressions I will read a poem that I wrote for your web site (see below). The poem describes how I felt about a man who came into my life. We talked on the phone and exchanged letters for weeks before we actually met.
Gary: Were you disappointed or pleased when you met him?
Tj: Let me put it this way. I was pleased and not disappointed. He was a perfect gentlemen.
Gary: Thank you Tj. On behalf of Erotic Expressions.net, this has been a pleasure.
Tj: Your welcome Mr. Johnson and be sure to visit www.tjbaker.com.
Tj Baker is available to speak at your next function, visit her website for details.