Monday, February 1, 2010

Interview: Author Carleen Brice

Last month I read and reviewed Children of the Waters, the second novel by Carleen Brice. The story examines the idea of race in terms of identification and romantic relationships using adoption as a vehicle. As promised, Carleen Brice has been so gracious as to be interviewed.

BGBS: What prompted you to write a story not only on adoption, but also one that crosses color lines?

Brice: Children of the Waters is partially based on a true story. My former sister-in-law is biracial and was put up for adoption because her birth father was black. In real life she was adopted by a white family so when she met her white birth sister, race wasn't really an issue. I started thinking what if she had been adopted by a black family? What if she hadn't even known she was adopted?
Also, I am intrigued by stories that include people of different races because that's the life I know and lead. I know many people in this country rarely interact with people outside their same race and class lines. But there are plenty who do--plenty of interracial families (our president being a prime example) and it's the life I know and lead. I grew up playing with white kids, black kids, Native American kids. I have another sister-in-law who's Latina. My husband is white. I wanted to write about the world as I experience it, where things aren't so, pun intended, black and white.

BGBS: It's refreshing to read a novel featuring a pair of successful, educated, and cultured Black parents. Why do you think this image is often lacking in the literary landscape? 

Brice: I wish I knew, but I truly don't understand it. Again, I am trying to show the world as I know it. I know plenty of dysfunctional families of all races and plenty of together people of all races. It's important to me to show the variety within the black community. Just like any other group, we have it all.

Mostly I write what I do because they say write what you want to read. So I write about people and situations that are interesting and important to me and hope they will be to others.

BGBS: In Children of the Waters, you delve into a hodgepodge of cultural and spiritual beliefs-Christianity, African ancestral spirits, etc. that add beautiful layers to the characters. Why was it important to include those characteristics?

Brice: At the risk of repeating myself, it was important because these are all beliefs that I know people have and are beliefs that I respect. My grandmother has been a member of the same church for over 70 years. Yet, I myself, am not a church-goer. I like seeing and showing the diversity of beliefs. I love that my grandmother has had the comfort and support of her church her entire life. I love that Michelle Obama has a cousin who's a rabbi! Back to the rich diversity that I see within our community and outside our community.

BGBS: One of your blogs is called "White Readers Meet Black Authors". Would you explain a bit about your mission with this blog?

Brice: My mission there is to help black authors reach a wider readership. Too often black authors are marketed only to black readers, and it can hurt our careers. I'm trying to get readers, booksellers and publishers to broaden their ideas about who the target audience is for a book. So readers who like mysteries, for example, should be hearing about ALL the mystery writers there are, not just white readers hearing about white mystery writers and black readers hearing about black mystery writers. That's such a limited and limiting way of perceiving the world.

BGBS: What literary endeavors are up next?

Brice: I'm working on my third novel. My working title is Calling Every Good Wish Home. We don't have a release date yet, but I hope to firm things up enough this year to know what will become of it. I'm having a lot of fun with these new characters. It's about a woman who's estranged from her father and becomes close with his wife.

BGBS: Anything else you'd like to add...

Brice: I'm so excited that my first novel Orange Mint and Honey has been made into a movie called "Sins of the Mother"! It stars Jill Scott and will air on the Lifetime Movie Network, LMN on Sunday, February 7th-Super Bowl Sunday!

There you have it folks! The fabulous Carleen Brice has a new novel in the pipeline, a movie adaptation of her first novel- Orange, Mint, and Honey, and she's spreading the gospel of Black authors to the masses. And we sing her praises!

Update: Since this interview, the air date for Sins of the Mother has been changed to Sunday, February 21 on Lifetime.

Keep up with Carleen Brice:
White Readers Meet Black Authors
The Pajama Gardener


wdjenkins1 said...

One of my favorite things about Carleen's wonderful books is that they depict a complex world with meaningful issues and beautifully developed characters in a way that is accessible to a wide, diverse audience. Thank you for this interview!

Zetta said...

Great interview, ladies! Carleen's a shining example of an author who gets her own work done AND finds time and energy to monitor the publishing industry AND promote other authors...she's amazing!

Becker said...

Thanks for this! Carleen Brice is coming to my library later this month (and Orange, Mint and Honey is on my TBR SOON pile), it's great to read a bit more about her.

Doret said...

Becker - I am so jealous you must blog about it and take pictures.

Orange Mint and Honey and Children of the Waters are both great books.

Every Tuesday I need my White Readers Meet Black authors fix.

Jessie Carty said...

great interview, definitely something i'd like to read :)

Anonymous said...

Children of Waters was already on my reading-list, now I can't wait to dive in! Thank you Doret and Carleen for all the insight you provided.

"Too often black authors are marketed only to black readers..." <=== That is something I never understood either. Or their books are only targeted to public libraries (that can afford them) and school libraries, for Black History Month...

When I hand-sold books, the ethnicity of the author was never a problem. The first step is for the bookseller to read the book so he/she can recommend it accordingly. I hope that they receive enough ARCs...

MissAttitude said...

Ah I can't beleive you are havng a discussion of the book on Friday! Ok I have to start reading so I can participate.

Great interview! Carleen is amazing and I love White Readers Meet Black Authors :D I'm so glad Carleen is writing storeis that she wants to read because I want to read them too, diverse stories that are not just black and white (although I'm not growing up in such a diverse environment sadly). Ugh the African american section of bookstores annoys me. Just have the books all together!

I'll be sure to record Sins of the Mother =)

Mama C said...

Great interview--so happy to meet the mastermind behind White Readers Meet..As a transracial adoptive parent my interest in piqued indeed. Thank you CO for this heads up. (OK I have to admit I have some fear about the character not knowing she is adopted--but I'll have to go and find out if that is in the story or not!!)

Carleen Brice said...

Wow! Thank you all for all this love! I'm very honored!

Kristi Bernard said...

This was a great interview.

Color Online said...

Are we ready? I am. Can't wait for our discussion.