SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER
BY JACQUELINE E. LUCKETT
On the surface, Lena Spencer appears to have it all. She and her wealthy husband Randall have two wonderful children, and they live a life of luxury. In reality, however, Lena finds that happiness is elusive. Randall is emotionally distant, her son has developed a drug habit, and her daughter is disgusted by her mother's "overbearing behavior." When Randall decides that he's had enough of marriage counseling, he offers his wife an ultimatum: "Be grateful for all I've done for you or leave." Lena, realizing that money can't solve her problems and that her husband is no longer the man she married, decides to choose the latter.
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Jacqueline worked in sales for Xerox for twenty years. During that time she married, raised a family and took creative writing classes where she reignited her love of writing.
In 2004, Jacqueline formed the Finish Party (featured in O Magazine, October 2007) along with seven other women writers-of-color. The group provides strong support for each other's writing, good meals, friendship and fun.Jacqueline is an avid reader and lover of books, excellent cook, aspiring photographer and world traveler. She lives in Northern California and is currently working on her second novel.
I was so pleased when Jacqueline agreed to tell me about her writing. Here is what she told me about here reading and writing habits:
I’ve been an avid reader all my life. My reading choices are varied. I don’t like to put myself into a “reading box.” There’ve been times when I read nothing but murder mysteries and detective novels (Valerie Wesley Wilson, John Sandford, Barbara Neely, Patricia Cornwell). Then I might switch to fiction (Bebe Moore Campbell or Dianne McKinney Whetstone), or become obsessed with literary fiction (Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz, Jeffery Eugenides, Julia Alvarez, ZZ Packer, Lalita Tademy, John Edgar Wideman)—and almost anything in between, including coffee table books on every subject from photography to music to architecture and design. I read what I like, often taking suggestions from friends, book reviews, and end-of-the year “best lists.” Sometimes I’m intrigued by book covers, or jacket copy and first paragraphs.
Before I started writing in earnest, I read solely for pleasure—what happened, where, why and to whom. I appreciated an author’s skill with plot and wording. My reading has shifted. Oh, don’t get me wrong—I still love a good, well-written story. Now, I read for both pleasure and to study the craft of writing. It takes me longer to read a book these days, because of the time devoted to my writing. But also, because I reread paragraphs and sentences to understand how an author successfully presented an idea, a place or a character. My best advice to anyone, young or not-so-young, interested in writing is: read, read, read. Choose an author that you love and break apart her/his sentences and paragraphs to get an idea of what makes the book work.
These days, I alternate between fiction and non-fiction. I just finished Where Did You Sleep Last Night? by Danzy Senna (Caucasia, Symptomatic). Part mystery, part memoir and desire to learn more about her father, Danzy has a way with words and story that is inspirational.
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