BERNICE MCFADDEN DAY!
Bernice L. McFadden was born, raised and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is the eldest of four children and the mother of one daughter, R'yane Azsa.
Ms. McFadden attended grade school at P.S. 161 in Brooklyn and Middle School at Holy Spirit, also in Brooklyn. She attended high school at St. Cyril Academy an all-girls boarding school in Danville, Pa.
In the Fall of 1983 she enrolled in the noted NYC fashion college: Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, with dreams of becoming an international clothing buyer.
She attended LIM for two semesters and then took a position at Bloomingdale's and later with Itokin, a Japanese owned retail company.
Disillusioned and frustrated with her job, she signed up for a Travel & Tourism course at Marymount College where she received a certificate of completion. After the birth of her daughter in 1988, Bernice McFadden obtained a job with Rockresorts a company then owned by the Rockefeller family.
The company was later sold and Ms. McFadden was laid off and unemployed for one year. She sights that year as the turning point in her life because during those twelve months Ms. McFadden began to dedicate herself to the art of writing. During the next nine years she held three jobs, always looking for something exciting and satisfying. Forever frustrated with corporate America and the requirements they put on their employees, Ms. McFadden enrolled at Fordham University. Her intention was to obtain a degree that would enable her to move up another rung on the corporate ladder.
She signed up for courses that concentrated on Afro-American history and literature, as well as creative writing, poetry and journalism. She credits the two years spent under the guidance of her professors as well as the years spent lost in the words of her favorite authors, to the caliber of writer she has become.
During those years, Ms. McFadden made a conscious effort to write as much as possible and began to send out hundreds of query letters to agents and publishers attempting to sell one of her short stories or the novel she was working on.
In 1997, Ms. McFadden quit her job and dedicated seven months to re-writing the novel that would become, Sugar In May of 1998, after depleting her savings, she took her last and final position within corporate America.
On Feb 9th, 1999, her daughter's eleventh birthday (and Alice Walker's birthday— one of Ms. McFadden's favorite authors) she sent a query letter to an agent who signed her two weeks later and the rest is literary history!
Bernice L. McFadden is the author of three novels—the national bestsellers, Sugar and The Warmest December (now available in trade paperback from Plume) and the just-released sequel to Sugar, entitled This Bitter Earth.
She is at work on her next novel.AUTHOR'S INTERVIEW:
1. What is the next or current book/project you are working on?
On May 1st, my historical fiction novel, Glorious will be released. Glorious is an extraordinary story 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 characters make appearances through out the story.
2. What have you just finished reading?
I am in the process of reading Wench by Dolen Valdez-Perkins.
3. What books would you say have made the biggest impression on you, especially starting out?
I am a huge fan of Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor and J. California Cooper. So I would have to say that their novels: Sula, Beloved, The Women of Brewster Place and Family – were the books that most impressed me as well as assisted in developing the style that has become my trademark.
4. What gets you started on a new book? A character or story idea or….?
It’s a very spiritual process for me. A character makes an appearance in my minds eye. Sometimes its just a face, sometimes an entire body and often times there will be a quiet monologue running through my mind. I know when this happens, that I have just been blessed with the beginning of a new novel.
5. What is something about you that you would want people to know about you that we probably don’t know?
I want people to know that although I am a writer that happens to be Africa-American, my stories are universal. I want readers to know that I, as well as my fellow writers are frustrated by the treatment we receive from publishers and bookstores in terms of marketing and publicity. Many white readers are unaware that works written by most writers of color are not being made available to them. Our books are not offered in the mainstream book clubs (i.e. Doubleday) and if we are in your local bookstore, it’s more than likely that we are shelved in the “African American Section” – a section a non-AF-AM person will unlikely venture into. We have been marginalized just because of the color of our skin. It’s racist practice that I am working hard to abolish.
6. What is your best advice to anyone, including young people, who want to be writers?
Write what your heart tells you to write. But understand that publishing is a business and like any other business, they want to make money and so that means, that you not only have to be the artist, you also have to be your own marketing and publicity department. The publisher will do some - but the rest will be up to you.
7. What is something you would like to share with us about writing your favorite genre in general?
I love history and I love fiction, so it is an absolute pleasure of mine be able take literary license to mix the two genres.
GIVEAWAY: PART ONE
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OF EACH OF THESE AMAZING
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HOW TO ENTER
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