Astrya's SCBC Interview
Wednesday, May 07, 2003 5:28:00 AM
by Astrya Richard
|I sat down with Lisa Cross of the SCBC for a interview last month here are the results.
1. Where are you from?
I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but I live in Houston, Texas. I graduated from Southern University.
2. What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I walked around thinking about this story for a few months before finally sitting down to flesh it out. In the first sitting I penned two chapters and it all evolved from that. I always felt their to be an absence of African American suspense writing, and since that is the genre I love I feel privileged to begin filling in the gap.
3. How much of the novel is realistic?
I’ve already began to get emails from people wanting to know how much of the interaction between two of the main characters is “real”. Everything about this book is fiction, and if by chance some reality happened to creep into the fiction I would never reveal which was which. Each of my characters has a personality trait that I want to reveal and people with that quality will probably recognize it and identify with the character most like them. At least I hope that is what happens.
4. Is their a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope every reader walks away with a few messages, but the overriding message in Family Secrets is the power of knowledge of self. As a people we should embrace our history and work hard to carry on the legacies of those that died to bring us into being. This book celebrates the power of ancestry, and the power of family. I grew up in a very close family. We always supported each other. The notion of someone not having that kind of support intrigued me so I wrote about it.
5. What do you do to set the mood for writing?
It depends on what I’m writing. If I am writing a suspenseful sequence I like a little chaos in my work area so I may have the television and the radio on in the background to keep me feeling rushed. If I’m writing a romantic sequence I dim the lights, put on one of my favorite romantic cd’s and just let it flow. The most important element is that I have to be alone. I have a problem creating with people in my space. I know that is incredibly eccentric, but that’s the way it works for me.
6. What genre are you most comfortable writing?
With a few modifications to the way I approach the subject I feel pretty comfortable writing in most genres. I love suspense, but romance writing comes a lot more naturally to me. Maybe in a few years when I get all the suspense and politics out of my system I’ll sit down and pen the quintessential love story. ;)
7. When and why did you begin writing?
My earliest memory of writing is when I was in the fifth grade, so I have had a life long affair with words. I was an only child for many years and originally writing became one of the ways I entertained myself. It evolved of course and by the time I was in college I was writing screenplays and doing a lot of political writing. I also began writing fiction while in college.
8. What books have most influenced your life?
Many books have influnced me, but I’ll narrow it down to the four pivotal ones. Roots by Alex Haley, because it changed the way I looked at the world forever. Sidney Sheldon’s Rage of Angels, because it was the first suspense that I read and it began my love for the genre. The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor, because it instilled in me the importance of sisterhood. Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, because this woman is a literary virtuoso and this is my favorite in her collection masterpieces.
9. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Yvette Brooks supported me all the way, and I foolishly forget to mention her name in the acknowledgments section of the book. I hope this makes up for that oversight.
10. What are you reading now?
Since I’m taking a short break from writing in celebration of being published I’m simultaneously reading Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism 1941-1963 by Clayborne Carson, and Why I Love Black Women
by Michael Eric Dyson.
11. Do you feel that the boom of African American writers is a fad or another renaissance?
It is certainly not a fad. I am not sure I would attach the word “renaissance” to it just yet because that is such a loaded title. Time will have to put our generation of writers to the test. But fifty years from now when this period in literature is studied and authors like Terry McMillan, E. Lynn Harris, Toure’ etc. are mentioned the word renaissance may then be applied. I hope I am around long enough to find out if we make the grade.
12. What are your current projects?
I am currently putting together my tour schedule, and researching for my second novel, tentatively titled “Silent Prayer”.
13. Do you see writing as a long term or short term career?
Definitely a long term career, if I have any hope of reaching ‘Master of the Game’ status. It has already been a life long pursuit. I find new things to write about every day and as long as the ideas flow so will my pen.
14. Anything additional?
To all aspiring authors, keep writing. Find your “zone” and do whatever it takes to nurture your creative side. Join an online writers group, the support is unmatched (i.e. SisterfriendWriters.yahoogroups.com, BlackWritersSouth.yahoogroups.com etc.). Also surround yourself with supportive people. Anyone who does not support you is not really a friend. Most importantly, commit to your writing. Only you can finish your work. As Lisa Cross often tells me, “Live the Dream”.
Author of Family Secrets
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