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