Showing posts with label Ten Burning questions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ten Burning questions. Show all posts

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ten Burning Questions with best-selling and critically-acclaimed author Lolita Files

---------------contemporary African American author Lolita Files

First off, I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to grant me and blogger Muze this anticipated and sought-after interview. I think your greatest quality as a successful writer is the way that you never fail to write with such passion and conviction, qualities which I personally admire. We really appreciate your professional efforts and, as always, we wish you continued success upon your present and future endeavors.

Of course your highly intriguing and well-written reads inspire many, many people. But what has probably been your most heartfelt and inspiring memory since you began writing books?

When I was in grade school, I read a book called "Daddy Was A Number Runner," by Louise Meriwether. It was about black folks in Harlem during the Depression with characters I could, for whatever reason, instantly relate to. And it was by a black author. Reading a story about us by an author of color made me realize that there was a place for us on the shelves amid all the books I loved by white authors and confirmed for me there was room for me as a writer.

I soon went on to read others like Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Gordon Parks, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison, but Meriwether's book was the key that opened the door for me. In December 2000, I was speaking at a prestigious event in New York City, only to discover that Louise Meriwether was in the audience. I was stricken---with both fear and honor---to even be in her presence.

I acknowledged her from the podium, sharing with the audience how her book had changed my life and that my new book that was soon to be out, "Child of God," had a character named in honor of one of her characters, Sukie. Ms. Meriwether was incredibly sweet and gracious. That was one of the most heartfelt moments of my career. To meet one's inspiration is a very powerful thing.

Everyone has that one book they've read which has left an everlasting impression upon their mentality. For me, it was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. What would you say is that one fascinating read that seems to remain embedded into your soul? Why?

Ha! I think I just answered that.

What does your blog, The LoZone, offer fellow bloggers who may be unaware that you also blog? What has been your greatest experience since you began blogging?

I'm a pretty private person. Blogging allows glimpses into my thoughts, interests, insights, and I get to interact with others about issues and non-issues of the day. It's a way to reach out to the world at large, come out of my space, albeit it just cyberly (is that even a word?), and perhaps even flex my wit a little. I have a high regard for comedy and was raised by very sharp, quick-witted people. I think some of that comes out in the way that I blog.

While reading your blog I've noticed that you have met quite a few other famous authors during your career. Can you give the readers an idea of what it was like to meet a particular few?

Most of the authors that I consider close friends came onto the scene either just before or around the same time as I, so we kind of came up in the game together. We lean on each other, vent, sound out ideas, and provide strong, genuine support for one another. I definitely consider it a blessing. I see them not just as my friends, but family.

As for meeting writers whose work I grew up reading or admired before I became published, that can be a very daunting thing, especially if it's someone who made a really big impact upon you. You sometimes don't know what to say. You sometimes say goofy things for lack of knowing what to say. The good part about it all, however, is you eventually realize they're not that much different than you, and most are very down-to-earth and welcoming.

Where do you gain inspiration for your novel characters? Is there one particular character who remains close to your heart? Perhaps one that had grown and developed more than originally intended?

Inspiration for me comes from many places. Sometimes I can notice someone passing on the street and, in that fleeting moment, something about them sparks an idea for a character. I may pull from places and people I encountered at some point in my life, or I sometimes just invent characters out of mid-air. I'm an observer of the world and pay very close attention to what's happening on the national, international, and pop culture landscape, so anything's fair game.

As for characters who remain close to my heart, there are several, so it's kind of hard to pick. There was Coolie in "Child of God," and Misty and Reesy in my "Scenes From A Sistah" series, and, ironically, Penn Hamilton, the serial killer in my last novel, "sex.lies.murder.fame."

Go figure.

As a successful writer I imagine there are many demands which are constantly placed upon yourself, fans and publishers alike. How do you manage to remain excited and motivated throughout the overall process?

You have to be self-motivated and you have to love what you do. Even though it's creative expression, it's still business, and you have to treat it as such. The excitement, for me, comes during the creative process and in getting it out there to readers, with the hopes that they connect with the story as well.

Do you believe there's such a thing as Writers Block? If so, how do you personally overcome it?

I used to think there wasn't such a thing, until it came and introduced itself to me one day. I battled against it for months until I realized that it's actually---okay, brace yourself---a gift. I came to realize that, during the time I believed I was blocked and couldn't write, I was actually still harvesting information from the world around me and the story was gestating and ripening, not willing to come out until it was good and done. I struggled for six months to crank out a story, to no avail.

At the end of that six months, I suddenly realized I had everything I needed, after having been influenced by things on the news, people I'd seen on the street, incidents that had come up in the course of my day, all manner of seemingly insignificant things that suddenly had value. I wrote the book from start to finish in two weeks. Just like that, I was unblocked.

So yes, I now believe in Writer's Block, but I no longer see it as the enemy. I see it as the story still cooking inside of me. I still attempt to write every day, but if the story doesn't spill out, I don't get bent out of shape about it. I know it will come. Of that, I'm always sure.

How does it make you feel when complete strangers walk up or email you and inform you about how much your extremely popular and critically-acclaimed book, Child of God, touched their hearts?

I'm always moved by it. I'm very proud of that book. It took me ten years, off and on, to complete, so knowing that those ten years invested were well-spent is both humbling...and a relief.

Describe the feeling that overcame you the very first time you walked into a bookstore and saw a book on the shelf with your name written in big bold letters? Do you feel that same way with other books you have penned?

It's too big of a feeling to even put into the words. It's the culmination of the ultimate visualization and dream. And no, the feeling never goes away. It happens with every book. It's like giving birth to a new child. You may know what it feels like, but that doesn't lessen the emotion you experience.

Lastly, would you like to share any personal advice for young and aspiring authors? Any learned secrets to writing? What is the single most important thing that they need to know about the industry?

Persistence. And knowledge of the craft. Don't just say you want to write and not know anything about the art of writing and storytelling. It requires study, just as any other serious career, like medicine or music. You can't just jump out there botching peoples' surgeries or hitting bad notes. You'll quickly be shown the door.

Learn the art. Learn the business. And don't take rejection personally. Don't let it make you give up on your dream. Take it as a chance to get better, to hone your craft, to keep going out there. Don't let a slump get you down. Lift your head up and keep charging forward, even if it's one painful step at a time. If you really feel that this is what you want to do, then do it to the bone, the right way. The write way.

Lolita Files is currently working on her seventh and highly anticipated novel. Her recent novel, Sex.Lies.Murder.Fame., in bookstores and online. Files' novel is a satirical look at the literary and music worlds and the lengths to which people will go for fame and fortune.

For more of author Lolita Files, check out The Lo Zone, her MySpace page, and she's also on Facebook.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ten Burning Relationship Questions: author Linda Dominique Grosvenor

1) First off, how can the relationship survive without complete sexual fulfillment?

The sad fact is that many partners go into relationships not fully expressing their needs and even more than that, they are refusing to communicate their likes and dislikes in and out of the bedroom. While girlfriends will huddle together and say what they will or will not stand for from a man, often times, they aren't as verbal to someone they have deep feelings for because they fear losing them.

On the flipside, sex isn't an issue for every relationship. Lots of relationships survive on the companionship aspect of it alone. The key here again is to communicate. Don't say that you're alright with certain arrangements only to resent them later. If two people who only seek to cuddle end up finding each other, they won't need the sex. If two people who come together for sex, but only need a monthly sexual outlet and that's enough, they've found their perfect match in one another. In my book The Plural Thing, I implore men and women to say what they want, mean it, and stick to it.

2) Secondly, should "trying to keep my family together" be any reason to remain in a relationship which suffers?

When you are in a detrimental relationship just "for the sake of the kids" or "to keep the family together," what you are in fact showing your children is how to have a miserable relationship. You are modeling for them. You are showing them that mommy and daddy are together and miserable. We lead by example and trust me the kids are watching.

Parents who fight in front of their children often have children who grow up blaming themselves for the drama going on in the household. Even if there is no verbal altercation between the mother and father, the children can still sense and feel the tension between them. I don't advise anyone to be in a mentally, physically or any other type of abusive relationship. If both parents aren't willing to get counseling, work on the relationship and apply what you've learned, I say, move on and stop ruining each other's lives.

The better lesson I'd teach my child if I were in a situation like that is, "walking away and starting over from scratch when things aren't working is honorable." If you can't make each other happy, let each other go so that you can both find someone who can.

3) Is there such a thing as 50/50 in a relationship?

Absolutely not! I don't want to be in a relationship where someone is giving or making half an effort - and neither should you. Relationships should be 100%/100%. Give all that you have to your relationship, otherwise don't waste each other's time.

4) What do you feel constitutes a healthy relationship?

A healthy relationship is a relationship where the needs of both people in the relationship are being met on a variety of levels ie. spiritual, physical, sexual and emotional. A healthy relationship should constantly move forward and forge a bond that leads to marriage and counts on the both of you making plans for your future together.

5) Why do so many down low sistas/brothers choose marriage knowing they share an alternate sexual preference?

They want a cover. They are insecure with the feelings they're having. They don't want the label. They may not be "down low," but rather bisexual. There are so many reasons. However, again, communication is the key here. If a woman just wants a man around the house to fix things and mow the lawn and the man just wants a woman to cook and provide a social cover because he's "down low" then they may be able to strike an agreement.

But like I said in a previous question, don't agree to something just to get next to someone and then change the rules of the game once you're together. You can't make someone be with you on a level that wasn't part of the agreement. Know what you're getting and deal with it. If you don't want to play that kind of game or know you want more than a person is willing to give you, throw down your cards and move away from the table.

6) Since no one is perfect, and a man will be a man, do you feel women should perhaps welcome the ideal of being a ride or die chick?

What?!?!?! The only one who is perfect is God and the only one who is unchanging is God. With that said, I don't buy into the "men will be men" philosophy. I just don't. It's baloney. An excuse. An escape hatch to get women to put up with things that even they know deep down they don't have to tolerate. I believe that if a man wants to grow he has to change. He has to put away childish things. If a woman wants to grow, she has to change too. If you meet someone and fall in love and want to be with them, move towards that and stop playing games with them and with yourself.

So many people live in the fear of "If I commit to this woman a better woman is going to come along." Stop looking at who you have as inadequate. The only way you will find a wonderful woman and fear another woman who is a better option will come along is if you are holding back and not being open and honest with the woman you're with. To this question I say, find someone who meets most of your needs and then go and sit down!

7) What do you feel is the one most important quality in every relationship?

The most important qualities are trust, respect and communication. You can't love someone if you don't trust, respect or communicate with them.

8) If you were involved with a man who became rich then poor, or vice versa, do you feel you'd personally change?

Money changes people. While it may not mean you'll change towards each other, your spending habits will change, the place you have access to now will change, and the friends (although it shouldn't) will probably change too. I think if couples have a true sense of who they are and what they expect of each other, no amount of money can change that.

9) What about friends? What roles should respective friends play in relationships?

I touched on this in a previous interview and article I did for a relationship website. In my book The Plural Thing I talk about this too. We don't date with the right perspective. Dating is supposed to be a precursor to marriage. Nowadays, we date like it's an all you can eat buffet. When you are dating you are supposed to be making an attempt to get to know a person on a deeper level and friendships that aren't kept with the boundaries of friendship can hinder that.

We haven't been taught how or when to break ties with or "cool down" some former relationships that may be detrimental to the budding relationship itself. This is not to say that you have to abandon your friendships for the relationship, but by the same token, the Bible does say, to "cleave" to your spouse. What better way to practice cleaving than to never put anyone before your partner.

10) Whatever happened to getting married and staying married until death does the marriage part?

What happened to it? People take their cues from Hollywood instead of God. We trade each other in like cars and want to upgrade the minute we see a quality in someone else that we don't see in the person we are with. We're selfish people for the most part, but there are some happily married people out there. I know plenty of them and I plan on being one of those in the married 50 years statistics!

What does your fantastic book, The Plural Thing, offer anyone who is interested in picking up a copy? For more information, you can check out her website Princess Dominique.

The Plural Thing: Spiritually Preparing for your soul mate, it will teach you how to avoid the counterfeit busters out there. It teaches you how to love yourself and others better and if marriage is what you're seeking, and how to prepare yourself for exactly what you're looking for.

If you want a chance to win one of 7 free copies I'll be giving away in February, join my mailing list by sending a blank email to: