April 11, 2010

3Q with Bernice L. McFadden (And a Contest!)

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, including the classic Sugar and Nowhere Is a Place, which was a Washington Post best fiction title for 2006. She is a two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of two fiction honors from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA).

I remember reading SUGAR soon after it came out and being so caught up in its aching, bittersweet web---I loved it. She has new book out now. It’s called Glorious, and Publisher’s Weekly gave it a standing rave, calling it “powerful” and “triumphant.” I can also tell you that if you use the LOOK INSIDE THIS BOOK feature on Amazon and read the first chapter's string of tantalizing What Ifs, you are going to be hooked. I certainly am.

I nabbed her for a 3Q interview, and she graciously agreed to provide two signed copies for those who dare to tread the Cruel Waters of the Random Number Generator. All you have to do to enter is leave a single comment, and let math do the rest. I’ll unleash the generator on you brave optimists who comment before Tuesday at Midnight, EST. Full rules, perma-stolen from Mir, are over on Want Not.

JJ: Tell us about Glorious.

BLM: Glorious is an extraordinary historical novel set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era.

The story opens on a hot, steamy July 4th in 1910 as “The Fight of the Century” comes to an end and Jack Johnson becomes the first ever African-American Heavy Weight Champion of the World. This event sets off a series of violent, racial eruptions around the country and in the small town of Waycross, Georgia, the life of a young Easter Venetta Bartlett is forever changed.

Glorious follows the life of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty.

It is a tale woven with historical events and figures of the time. Langston Hughes, Carl Van Vechten, A’Lelia Walker, Nancy Cunard, Marcus Garvey, Horace Liveright and many other historical figures make appearances throughout the story. In many ways, Glorious mirrors my own journey from an unknown writer to published author. The story is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago.


JJ: Your main character, Easter Bartlett seems to have a lot in common with you. You are both female authors. How are you different/alike?

BLM: Our differences are few. Easter was born in the late 1800's and in Waycross, Georgia. I was born in 1965 in Brooklyn, New York. What we both strive for is happiness. We're driven by the idea that art and love should transcend race, religion and gender.

JJ: I know you are an an "organic writer,” ---someone who writes their way into a book instead of working from an outline. Can you talk a little bit about your process and what you thought the book would be versus what it became?

BLM: My stories, Glorious included, come to me in phases and in phrases. I might be washing the dishes and all of sudden a monologue will start up in my head. This often goes on day and night for days. This is when I know a new story has found me. I have never had to search for a story or an interesting character - they always find me. With Glorious, I was sitting in my kitchen having a cup of tea when, I suddenly felt the presence of two women who I will contend until the day I die, were the spirits of The Harlem Renaissance Writers, Zora Neale Hurston and Nella Larsen. By the time I finished my tea, I had twenty pages of information that would become the prologue for Glorious.

THANKS, BERNICE. And good luck Best Beloveds...I can tell you cryptically, and while wearing pink socks, that this will be the last 3Q and RNG contest ever to be seen on this website, so. Make it count!

Posted by joshilyn at April 11, 2010 5:08 PM

"I have never had to search for a story or an interesting character - they always find me."

That is how my stories come to me as well.

And your cryptic message makes me nervous.

Posted by: Theresa at April 11, 2010 5:49 PM

Does your cryptic message mean you're starting a new website?
And does being the second to leave a comment mean I won't win? Oh I hope not! I want to read this book!!

Posted by: edj at April 11, 2010 6:48 PM

Pick me! I totally want this book. And, in the unlikely event that i do not win (ha!) i will run out and buy it.

Posted by: Rachel at April 11, 2010 7:09 PM

I'm in love with the main characters name.

Posted by: pam at April 11, 2010 7:19 PM

Very cryptic indeed.

Posted by: Pam at April 11, 2010 7:21 PM

Yes please.

Posted by: Emily at April 11, 2010 7:21 PM

The RNG is cheaper than the lottery, but I think my luck is the same for both whether I "buy" a ticket or not.

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at April 11, 2010 7:22 PM

I'll take one.

Posted by: Isaac at April 11, 2010 7:23 PM

Sounds awesome! I'm in.

Posted by: Moose at April 11, 2010 7:24 PM

hmm, pink socks you say. so the story behind the cryptic message will never be revealed.

still, the book sounds wonderful, please RNG, be kind to me this time.

Posted by: elizabeth at April 11, 2010 7:35 PM

I just read the Amazon excerpt. Wow!

Posted by: Meg Moseley at April 11, 2010 7:38 PM

I'd love to win this book. And yes, I'm now trying to decipher the cryptic message ...

Posted by: Becky at April 11, 2010 8:02 PM

Sounds interesting :)

Posted by: Beth R at April 11, 2010 8:31 PM

RNG and cryptic commentary? The anticipation is killing me!

(please pick me!)

Posted by: Jen at April 11, 2010 9:01 PM

I love the character's name. I'm posting because I can't resist; although, I'm already trying to find _Sugar_ now. Thanks for promoting other authors. We must have something to do before June! ;)

Posted by: JulieB at April 11, 2010 9:08 PM

Hmmm, that last little sentence puzzles and worries me! Hopefully this time, the RNG will love me!

Posted by: Dani Moore at April 11, 2010 9:44 PM

I'm NOT entering (because I have been sooo lucky here already!) but I put it on my Wish List since my birthday is coming and I MUST have this one!

But no more 3Q? I love your 3Q's!

Posted by: PattiH at April 11, 2010 9:56 PM

Count me in, please.

Posted by: Jerri Hernandez at April 11, 2010 10:21 PM

Pink socks?!? Very cryptic!

Posted by: Jenn at April 11, 2010 11:11 PM

Sounds very much like a book I want to read!

Posted by: Theresa at April 11, 2010 11:41 PM

RNG actually stands for "Repeatedly, Nothing Gotten." /sigh

Posted by: Jujube at April 11, 2010 11:44 PM

Hmmmm cryptic message is disturbing...but, pick me RNG! :)

Posted by: Shannon at April 11, 2010 11:50 PM

Drowning in the Cruel Waters of the RNG yet again.

How many lives do pseudo-writers have, anyway?

Posted by: Chris of the Woodwork at April 12, 2010 12:04 AM

I love hearing about and being introduced to new (to me) authors. Pick me RNG!

Posted by: Nic at April 12, 2010 2:41 AM

I hope your cryptic message means a new website and not an end to the 3qs and contests!

Posted by: Heather at April 12, 2010 5:05 AM

Wha . . !!!

Erm . . changing your website, perhaps?

Free books are one of the most lovely things that can ever be offered, in my opinion. :-D

Posted by: Brigitte at April 12, 2010 6:38 AM

I throw myself at the mercy of the RNG.

Posted by: Rita at April 12, 2010 9:19 AM

Only thing better than free books is free food and sometimes I'm not too sure that's correct.

Posted by: Jobie at April 12, 2010 9:50 AM

I love the main character's name, and the story sounds, well, glorious. I love American history. :)

I, too, vote for a website change, however she never did get around to the pink sock story so maybe the whole thing is a ruse? It's Monday; I'm out of ideas.

Posted by: Jess at April 12, 2010 9:58 AM

I have to say the author sounds like quite a character herself! Would love for RNG to recognize me.

Posted by: Kathy at April 12, 2010 10:07 AM

Just read the excerpt - now I want to read the book!

This is the second cryptic reference our dear novelist has made to changes...the first was on February 20.

Posted by: JenniferG at April 12, 2010 10:09 AM

Last contest, first comment. Is it meant to be?

Posted by: Meghan at April 12, 2010 10:47 AM

Oh please, RNG!!! Pick ME!!! I need a new fiction fix... especially if Joshilyn recommends it, as she is Pretty and a Woman of Taste and Discernment.

Posted by: Peggy Spence Fry at April 12, 2010 11:24 AM

Whoa... I made clicky and read the first few pages, and... WHOA. I want to read that. I will read it, even if the RNG doesn't pick me. But it would be so nice to be able to read it for FREE!

Posted by: Aimee at April 12, 2010 11:37 AM

I just knew you would leave us when you got all rich and famous! ohhhhhhhh, the injustice of it all. (sniff, sniff)
But I still want to read that book

Posted by: D at April 12, 2010 12:27 PM

Why do I feel like I need a secret decoder ring?

Posted by: Tequila Cookie Chirs at April 12, 2010 12:43 PM

Pick me! Pick me!

Without your 3Q how will I fill my summer vacation reading list? I'm hoping it's just a change and not the end.

Posted by: Sheri at April 12, 2010 1:12 PM

I always LOVE the books you feature here!

Posted by: Whit at April 12, 2010 1:23 PM

sounds like a fun, lazy way to learn some history. pick me!

Posted by: pam at April 12, 2010 1:30 PM

I have already changed two poopy diapers today (same kid), and I really want some Taco Bell, but can't get any.

I need something to cheer me up.

Posted by: emily jane at April 12, 2010 1:59 PM

I have already changed two poopy diapers today (same kid), and I really want some Taco Bell, but can't get any.

I need something to cheer me up.

Posted by: emily jane at April 12, 2010 2:00 PM

Sounds like a fantastic book! I'll throw my hat in the ring, and then if I don't win I'll go get my eager little hands on it some other way. :)

Posted by: thisgirlremembers at April 12, 2010 2:03 PM

Oh, pretty please, me! And if you stop the 3Q, how will I find all these new lovely authors to read?

Posted by: Gwen at April 12, 2010 2:35 PM

Come on RNG! Pick me! I need something new to read.

Posted by: Les in AZ at April 12, 2010 3:31 PM

I find your cryptic message alarming, and wonder what brand of cereal I should be eating to get the right decoder ring...

The book also looks amazing.

Posted by: redzils at April 12, 2010 4:17 PM

My birthday's tomorrow... hope I win!

Posted by: 5elementknitr at April 12, 2010 4:23 PM

If you rate this author, I'd like this book please!

I'm in the "worried" camp on the cryptic message, but I don't handle change very well sometimes; hope that means onwards and upwards in some way!

Posted by: Liz at April 12, 2010 4:50 PM

thank you for introducing me to a new writer. i will certainly check out her books.
and i, too, think you are about to launch a new web site. are we right?

Posted by: katie@agraciousplenty at April 12, 2010 5:08 PM

Pick me! Pick me!

Posted by: RandomRanter at April 12, 2010 5:09 PM

I can't wait to read these. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by: GLory Words at April 12, 2010 5:57 PM

I am enchanted by the answers to your questions. How have I not heard of this author before? It seems unthinkable. I would love to win this book!

Posted by: Susan at April 12, 2010 7:10 PM

Ooooh, cryptically said, eh? New website? I remember you saying not too long ago that the flower's time at the top was soon up, so I'm guessing it's getting closer...and closer...and...


Posted by: jess at April 12, 2010 7:13 PM

Last contest? Oh my! I will read this book whether I win or not lovey.

Posted by: Olive Cooper at April 12, 2010 8:10 PM

That is a strange, cryptic message, but I will assume that happy, fun, and shiny things will be headed our way.

This sounds like a very interesting book - I love that the author was inspired by the ghosts of The Harlem Renaissance Writers! How fantastic!

Posted by: Lindsey at April 12, 2010 8:14 PM

Oooh ~ pick me, please, RNG! :D

Posted by: Kim at April 13, 2010 7:00 AM

Sounds Wonderful! I would love to win.

Posted by: Karen at April 13, 2010 12:25 PM

Yay, books!

Posted by: Jill W. at April 13, 2010 1:42 PM

Sounds like a must read book to me.

Posted by: Jackie at April 13, 2010 4:15 PM

I would love the opportunity to win a copy of this book. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted by: Brandi at April 13, 2010 6:01 PM

Sounds really good. Send me one for my wife.

Posted by: McKeithen at April 13, 2010 10:27 PM

Please pick me, oh mighty RNG - this sounds like a really good book!!

Posted by: Cheryl M at April 13, 2010 10:49 PM

Last contest ever?! Noooo!!! Since it's the last one and I've been faithfully entering since the beginning of my reading time I believe in my heart of hearts that I should be picked. Pick me!

Posted by: Nikki at April 14, 2010 5:48 AM