Wednesday, January 12, 2011
AOTR is happy to bring you this Interview from author Valjeanne Jeffers. Please pick up one of her books and enjoy!
AOTR: Please tell us about yourself and your books.
Jeffers: I’m Valjeanne Jeffers and I’m a member of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective (CAAWC) a mother, a grandmother and a teacher. I’m also the author of three science fiction novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and my latest release: Immortal III: Stealer of Souls.
Immortal begins in the year 3075, on the planet Tundra: a world that has been at peace for 400 years – a world without poverty or racism. Yet Tundra is threatened by an ancient evil. Karla, a young Black woman, is a recovering addict working as a drug counselor. Intelligent and capable, she knows exactly where she’s going and what she wants. Until she closes her eyes at night…and enters a seductive and dangerous world. To save her planet Karla must find Joseph – the one man who can unravel the mystery of her dreams – and unleash the werewolf sleeping inside her.
An excerpt from Immortal 3: Stealer of Souls has been published in Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction and Pembroke Magazine Volume 39. I’ve also been published in Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, LuneWing, Specular Mythseed, Liberated Muse: How I Freed My Soul, The Ringing Ear, Revelry, PurpleMag numbers 7, 8 and 9, Drumvoices Revue and The Obamas: Portrait of America's New First Family.
AOTR: Why did you write your book, and what was the inspiration that made you complete it?
Jeffers: I’ve always loved to read and two of my favorite genres, since childhood, are Black literature and science fiction. I began my writing journey as a child reading the works of authors like Richard Wright and Zora Neal Houston; and writing my own poems and stories. As an adult, I was drawn into the worlds of Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due, Stephen King and so many others. I began to imagine characters and worlds in my mind. This was the birth of Immortal.
AOTR: Are there any important social issues your characters faced or discussed in your book?
Jeffers: When I first began writing Immortal, I didn’t start out with a conscious decision to write a novel that dealt with poverty, racism or war. But as my story evolved these issues and others like homelessness and unemployment just naturally became part of my journey. So yes, social issues are definitely dealt with in all three of my novels, as well personal struggles that my characters grapple with.
In my opinion there are no perfect women or men. We are all just people trying to live and cope with life and it’s ups and downs in the best way we know how. Diseases like alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual addiction are a part of real life too, and I incorporate them into lives of my characters.
AOTR: Who was your favorite character in your book? Why?
Jeffers: I would have to say one of my main characters: “Karla.” She has supernatural powers; she’s strong, intelligent, sexy, funny and she’ll fight to the death to protect those she loves. Karla was actually inspired by a young woman who befriended me when I was nine years old; a young woman who’d lost both her mother and one of her brothers; but she’d enrolled in college and was raising her two remaining brothers. For me, this character, in many ways is an archetype of so many strong, Black women I’ve met – including myself – who take all life throws at them but still “keep it pushing.”
AOTR: What do you hope a reader will take away after closing one of your books?
Jeffers: Love yourself. Whatever your dream is don’t give up. Moreover, we, as part of the human community can change our world, a little bit at a time. We can make our voices heard, if we stand together.
AOTR: With so many books in the market, what sets your books apart?
Jeffers: My novels are multi-ethnic and shape shifting, advanced technology, time travel and sorcery all co-exist within the Immortal series. Although all of my main characters have supernatural abilities they’re down to earth men and women, that are easy to know and love – I always manage to interweave their personal struggles into the plot. Against this backdrop are demonic threats to Tundra that continue to unfold with each novel, and that Karla, Joseph and others must battle to save their world.
AOTR: What projects are you working on now?
Jeffers: I’ve just finished a short story entitled the Switch, which I’ve submitted for publication. I’m also writing the sequel to Stealer of Souls.
AOTR: What keeps you typing and creating stories? Is there a person, place, or thing that inspires you to do what you do?
Jeffers: Writing is not something I do, it’s who I am. I love it – writing is as vital to me as my next breath. There are also places and times in my life that were and continue to be special. Love and the exploration of sexuality are contant sources of inspiration and imagination for me. I believe in love as both a shelter from the lifes storms and as source of strength and my characters mirror these feelings. The 1960s was time of unity and growth and this era often finds its way into my novels too, in one form or another.
AOTR: Finish this sentence. Twenty years from now I hope to have accomplished.... in my writing career.
Jeffers: Twenty years from now I hope to have accomplished writing fifteen more books, twenty more short stories and I will have become a best selling, world famous author in my writing career.
AOTR: How can readers contact you?
Valjeanne's ten favorite things
Season: Definitely Summer
Restaurant: First House Chinese Restaurant
Actor: Pam Grier
Food: Chinese Baked Seafood
Author: Octavia Butler
Social networking site: http://eroticpoetry.webs.com/
Time of day: Midnight[book:Immortal: Second Edition|6461150][bookcover:Immortal: Second Edition|6461150]
AOTR is pleased to bring you an interview from Denise Coleman. Please check out her new book and show your support!
AOTR: Please tell us about yourself and your debut book.
Denise: I was born and raised in Camden, NJ and feel richer for the exprience. I have four children and for the last thirteen years, I've been working in child protective services at DYFS.
My novel, Drama with a Capital D is a story about self examination and growth. The main character, Lonnie finds herself mixed up in some rather painful and drama filled situations. She'd like nothing more than to remove herself from the ugliness however, she repeatedly failes to see how her own behavior perpetuates the drama.
AOTR: Why did you write your book and where did the inspiration come from?
Denise: I wrote Drama simply because I love to write. To be an author is probably the only dream I've ever had. Without a doubt, I had to pursue it.
The biggest inspiration in my life is my family. It is because of them that I do what I do. It's important to show my children that dreams absolutely can come true.
AOTR: What do you hope people will take away after finishing your book?
Denise: The one thing I want people to take away from reading my work is ...no matter how bad it seems or how many times you get it wrong, you can change anything for the better. To grow from life's experiences is a true joy.
AOTR: What important lessons or teaching where you trying to convey?
Denise: The main lesson in the story is that life is going to happen. Good and bad exist together. To stand strong and positive in it all will take us far.
AOTR: With so many books on the market, what sets yours apart?
Denise: I believe the realism and humor of Drama sets it apart from what I've been reading lately. There are so many authors I enjoy reading today but, our lives aren't solely based on sex and or drugs. There are still every day people who have difficulties to contend with and my novel encompasses one of those stories.6. Drama with a Capital D should be read quite simply because, it's a realistic, relatable, enjoyable page turner!
AOTR: In one sentence tell a reader why they should read your book for their next selection.
Denise: Drama with a Capital D should be read quite simply because, it's a realistic, relatable, enjoyable page turner
AOTR: If you had a chance to have dinner with any author dead or alive, who would it be? What is one question you would ask him or her?
Denise: If I could have dinner with anyone it would be Donald Goins. I'd like to ask him about his experiences with getting published during a time when very few African American titles were available to us.
AOTR: What is the best advice someone in the book industry gave you? What advice would you give to someone right now trying to get published?
Denise: Honestly the best advice I've ever received was..."Don't stress. Just take it one sentence at a time."
My adviced to up and coming authors would be to find a great editor and listen to them. Don't make the mistake of thinking you know everything. Professional editors see things about our stories that we may not catch. They truly are a blessing at bringing out the best in us.
AOTR: How did you go about becoming a published author?
Denise: My journey to getting published was a great deal of luck and maybe just a bit of destiny. Once I had a completed project, I made a list of publishers and began sending in submissions. Melodrama was at the top of my list and fortunately, they liked what I wrote and offered me a contract.
AOTR: If you were not an author what career field would you be in?
Denise: If I couldn't write I would definitely do what I'm doing now. It is truly fulfilling to work in a field that's all about being there for our children.
AOTR: What do you pray your legacy will be?
Denise: I would like to leave a legacy of hope, courage and conviction. Dream big and go for it!
AOTR: Can you give us an ideal on what you are working on now?
Denise:The next piece on the horizon is a coming of age story about four female teens who are forced to move in with realtives they barely know. This occurance changes them in ways that lead each girl in a direction in her life no one could have predicted. More drama and more laughter for sure.
AOTR: How can readers contact you and find out more information about you and your books?
Denise: Readers can follow me on Twitter which is the best way to reach me directly, @ DeniseRColeman.
Facebook @ Author Denise Coleman's fan page. My blog, WWW.Truewordsdc.blogspot.com and of course they can check me out on Melodrama publishing.com
Holiday - Thanksgiving
Food - Lasagna
CD- Anything Jay Z
City - Camden
Friend - All of my friends are my favorite. They are amazing people! I'm so blessed!
Quote- Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined-Thoreau
Book- The autobiogrophy of Malcolm X.
Teacher - Every black woman I've ever had the pleasure of learning from.
Pasttime - Reading!!!!!!