Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Meet: Bettye Griffin, author of Trouble Down The Road

Today's guest is novelist Bettye Griffin. Women's fiction readers: read on and then check out her books, especially the latest, which is out today! (Depending on what mom likes to read, it might make a nice Mother's Day gift.) You can learn more about Bettye on her great blog and friend her on Facebook.

White Readers Meet Black Authors: Tell us about your latest novel.

Bettye Griffin: It’s called Trouble Down The Road, is published by the Dafina imprint of Kensington Publishing and will be available everywhere today. As for the plot, let’s see…secrets being found out, lies being exposed, marriages in trouble, misguided loyalties…does that whet your appetite for a good book to devour (I hope, I hope)? Publisher’s Weekly calls it a “tart and torrid tempest” and says that “Those who crave their drama fast and furious will surely enjoy.” And the editor of the Black Expressions Book Club (Trouble Down The Road will be a Main Selection of the club in May) told me her staff loved the scenarios the book addresses.

Even with that very un-romantic plot overview, it’s necessary for me to note that Trouble Down The Road is not a romance, but women’s fiction. When you write both, as I do, you want to do all you can to keep readers informed about which is which…and there will no doubt still be some who will write to me and say things like, “That was no way to end a romance.” Sigh….

WRMBA: How would you describe your body of work? Your themes, tone, style? Why do you write about the topics you write about?

Bettye Griffin: A reader once pointed out to me that much of my work involves blended families, something I hadn’t realized but is not unusual in today’s society. This plays a role in Trouble Down The Road as well. The tone of my work tends to be a bit serious. I like taking everyday people and putting them in situations ranging from the uncomfortably sticky to downright ethical dilemmas. My style is not literary, but nor is it simplistic. Somewhere in between, I guess. My characters often have a dry wit (they can’t help it, they picked it up from me). I write about essentially anything I feel would make for an entertaining story, often taking ideas from human interest stories in the news.

WRMBA: What's your goal(s) as a writer? Do you set out to educate? Entertain? Illuminate?

Bettye Griffin: Entertain, definitely. I’ll let the folks at the Discovery Channel do the educating!

WRMBA: What's next for you?

Bettye Griffin: I’ve been working on a synopsis that’s been kicking my butt for a complicated story that will be smoking, if only I can get it all worked out. I see myself moving into more mainstream romance fiction, and I just completed a synopsis for a proposal to do just that (none of my previous mainstreams, Trouble Down The Road included, have contained significant romance threads). And I’m working on another contemporary romance to be published by my own Bunderful Books. The rule I break here that would prevent this book from being published by a traditional romance publisher is having three very different romantic relationships unfold in a single novel.

WRMBA: What's the best book (or the best writer) that not enough people know about?

Bettye Griffin: I believe Plenty Good Room is Teresa McClain-Watson’s masterpiece and is deserving of wide acclaim. She actually transported me into the mind of a teenage boy from the streets with her wonderfully vivid descriptions of his psyche. I felt I understood him perfectly, empathized with him, rooted for him. I believe the book is out of print and hope it will be made available again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


To Attica Locke, whose Black Water Rising is short-listed for the Orange Prize!

And to Victor LaValle who just won a Guggenheim fellowship!

Black Water Rising and Big Machine are both in paperback and are both excellent. Buy them!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

News & a give-away!

Glorious is in the current issue of O Magazine! Congrats Bernice!

Mari Walker's new one Not Quite What it Seems is out today. Happy Pub Day Mari!

Pearl Cleage's Till You Hear From Me comes out a week from today!

Tananarive Due is blogging at a new site about writing. Prospective writers check it out.

If you like connecting with authors online, Reads for Pleasure has a link to lots of black authors who are online.

Here's a great trailer for the YA fantasy The Marvelous World by Troy CLE.

And if you like fantasy, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin looks good!

This blog was shortlisted for the Author Blog Awards. Voting ends Thursday. Blog, Facebook or Tweet your friends to vote for me and leave me a comment here to let me know you did. I'll do a random drawing of commenters for an advance copy of Red Hats by Damon Wayans (who knew he was a novelist?) or From Cape Town with Love by Due, Steven Barnes & Blair Underwood!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Toni and Terry Solution

DeBerry and Grant often discuss what they call the Toni-Terry problem: Publishers who don't know what to do with an author who doesn't follow either Toni Morrison's or Terry McMillan's literary models.

I'd like to talk today about the Toni-Terry solution. How Morrison and McMillan support new black authors. Here is video of Morrison talking at the National Black Writers' Conference, which recently took place in Brooklyn (with thanks to Stafford Battle for the video), accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award and encouraging new writers. (For more, read Grace Ali's essay about what the conference meant to young writers.)

Terry McMillan has recently come online on Facebook and Twitter, where she shares writing tips with aspiring authors. She also uses her fame to spread the word about other writers, as she does in this article. She's also quick to send congratulatory notes or leave comments on other writers' Facebook pages if she likes their work. (Her sequel to Waiting to Exhale, Getting to Happy comes out in September!)

Brava and sincere gratitude to both! Would that more writers of their stature would support those who are coming behind them.

In other news....

Poetry Month
Looking for a little poetry to start your day? Try Sonia Sanchez' latest: Morning Haiku.

New and upcoming novels
Lots of good stuff coming soon. Including giveaways! I got a couple of advance readers copies that I will share. I feel a contest coming on. In the meantime, APOOO Book Club always keeps a good list of upcoming releases. Here's their spring/summer list.

Preston Allen has a new novel out called Jesus Boy. Booklist says, "Allen has created a consummate tragicomedy of African American family secrets and sorrows, and of faith under duress and wide open to interpretation. Perfect timing and crackling dialogue, as well as heartrending pain balanced by uproarious predicaments, make for a shout-hallelujah tale of transgression and grace, a gospel of lusty and everlasting love."

I know a lot of you like literary fiction, so don't sleep on this one!