Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WWOC: Virginia Deberry & Donna Grant

Full name: Virginia DeBerry

Birth date: July 6

Location: (Birth: Wadesboro, NC) Now: Central New Jersey

Full name: Donna Grant

Birth date: October 14

Location: (Birth: Brooklyn, NY) Now: Brooklyn, NY

Website/blog: (joint) (personal)

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

WiP or most recently published work: Uptown

Writing credits: :Uptown (Simon & Schuster 2010), Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made (St. Martin’s Press 1997), Far From the Tree (St. Martin’s Press 2001), Better Than I Know Myself (St. Martin’s Press 2004), Gotta Keep on Tryin’ (Simon & Schuster 2008), What Doesn't Kill You (Simon & Schuster 2009), & Exposures (as Marie Joyce-Warner/Popular Library 1990)

How frequently do you update your site? Not often enough!

Is your site designed for reader interaction? No, unfortunately it isn’t.

Posts of note, something in particular you want readers to check out: Virginia’s Open Letter to Oprah from last November

How does your partnership work? Do you both come up with the initial ideas, does one of you prefer to edit?

We both participate in all phases of writing. We brainstorm ideas, develop characters jointly and we both write and edit. People have often said the writing must be twice as fast since there are two of us. In reality, it probably takes twice as long, but the process of collaborating has been amazing.

Let's say I've just walked into a bookstore and I'm not sure which one of your books I should start with, which one would you recommend I read first and why?

That’s a really difficult question because we love all of our “children” equally. But let’s put it this way, Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made is the most popular—800,000 copies sold. Far From the Tree & What Doesn’t Kill You are our personal favs, but Better Than I Know Myself should also be on that list. If you read Tryin’ you should read Gotta Keep on Tryin’ and we think there’s an important message in Uptown. And if you want to know how we began—find a copy of Exposures—now available on Kindle & Nook!

What's next for DeBerry & Grant?

We’re not sure. We did 3 books in a little over 3 years and that meant 3 book tours and loads of other promotional events and activities so we’re a bit drained at the moment. We have a few ideas we’re fleshing out, but there won’t be a new novel from us in 2011—maybe by 2012.

Top 5 reads you’re looking forward to reading in 2011?

Since this is a brainstorming time, at the moment we are reading more source material—newspapers, magazines and walking around with our ears open to the stories there are to tell and the characters to tell them with.

100 words or less how would you describe your work?

We call our books, “Life Stories.” We look for the joy, sadness, heartache and triumph—the drama—in all of our lives. We write about the loves, losses, betrayals, and feuds we have all gone through in our families, with our friends, with our children, in our neighborhoods, and how we got over, around and through them. What happens when your loved one has “habits” that put the family in jeopardy? What do you find out about yourself and your friends when you lose your job and your way of life has to change? Those kinds of situations make great jumping off points for stories that we hope keep you turning the pages and wondering what happens next as well as thinking about what you would do in a character’s shoes.

100 words on less please share your thoughts on children and reading

Both of us have early childhood memories that involve reading. Virginia looked forward to weekly Friday afternoon library visits with her family where she was excited to choose her books for the week. Donna remembers sitting on the subway next to her Mom, each of them reading until they reached their stop. Making reading “cool” for children, starts a habit that allows young people to see worlds beyond the one they know. Strong reading skills allow them to excel in any area they choose. If you love to read, share that love with a child—introduce them to books, buy them a book, turn them on and encourage them to explore.

I've only read two of Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant's books but I'm impressed at how long these two ladies have been published and I've very much enjoyed both of the books by them I have read. I liked Better Than I Know Myself but I really really liked Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made. Now I just need to read Gotta Keep on Tryin' (along with the rest of their books!). Life Stories is a great, accurate description of their work and maybe they will write for kids and teens one day. I know they could help make reading cool ;)

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