It is my pleasure to introduce you all to someone I hope will become a very big name in readers' circles (and movie circles, the book's already been optioned) and I urge you to check out her book, which pubs TODAY!
Funnily enough, author Lori Tharps, won the Snubbr.com giveaway here and chose 32 Candles as the book she will receive. So congrats Ernessa on your pub day! And congrats Lori on winning the book!
White Readers Meet Black Authors: Tell us about your new book.
Ernessa T. Carter: It’s about Davie Jones, a girl growing up mute, poverty-stricken and unpopular in Mississippi. She sees the movie Sixteen Candles for the first time and decides that she wants her own “Molly Ringwald Ending.” Much drama ensues.
WRMBA: Describe your work for someone unfamiliar with it. What's your writing style like? What subjects/themes do you explore?
ETC: I set out to write what I would call a literary romance, and what others might call women’s fiction. The point was that I love romantic novels and I love literary novels, and I didn’t understand why they were so often mutually exclusive. I like to talk about love, dreams, sanity, and emotion in really different ways. Most of all, I like to write the books I want to read, but aren’t seeing on bookshelves. If I wasn’t a frustrated reader, I probably wouldn’t be a novelist. Also, I like original characters. If my main character reminds you of someone else’s main character, then I want to meet that novelist, because obviously she is a parallel universe me that has come here in some kind of multi-dimensional time machine, and I have a few questions for her.
WRMBA: What's your goal(s) as a writer? Do you set out to educate? entertain? illuminate?
I always say that if there was an apocalypse, I’d put together a troupe and travel the devastated country as a playwright and producer of quality entertainment. All I want to do is entertain and touch readers. The rest is gravy. Wait that’s not true. I also like to represent for awkward. I don’t think awkward black women have enough representation in literature.
ETC: I think a lot people do this. They say, I adore movies and I adore writing, so I should be a screenwriter. That’s what I said to myself when I went and got my MFA for Dramatic Writing. I didn’t take into account that I don’t particularly like writing with other people or being told what to do or leaving the house for work. When you take that into account, I’m probably best suited to be a novelist. I think it’s important for people to keep on reassessing their personalities and make changes accordingly. I don’t regret my tangled journey, though. I got my first FT writing job and met my husband because of my MFA, so I consider it money well-spent, an investment in my future that paid off in really strange ways.
What's next for you?
I recently finished up the rough draft of my second novel, THE AWESOME GIRLS GUIDE TO DATING EXTRAORDINARY MEN, which is about two years in the lives of three best friends, living, struggling, and dating in Los Angeles. I’m fixing for a heavy rewrite of that in the fall.
ETC: That’s an interesting question. Most of the authors I like have tons of fans already. For example, I’ve recommended ORANGE MINT AND HONEY to quite a few people, but usually they’ve either heard of it, already read it, or were planning to read it before I came along. Still, It took me over a year to find the graphic novel, BAYOU by Jeremy Love (which The Bottom of Heaven blogged about here), so I’d like to spread the gospel about that terrific read. I also wish more people would read BLACK WATER RISING by Attica Locke (reviewed here in the L.A. Times) and I adore how Lisa Tucker writes. Her book premises are never the same, and man, is she suspenseful.