V.M.: Betrayal and Passion, wow... looks like you've nailed that one. My inspiration came from experiencing childhood with no man in the house, due to an absentee father. He took off before I was a month old and moved to the other side of town; which was at that time uncommon. Segregation was still heavy and we were forced to deal with personal situations in our own communities. Nonetheless, my mother worked two jobs and I roamed the streets all day and half the night. She couldn't raise the man she wanted me to be so a street education is what I earned instead.
During my street studies, as I like to refer to them, is where I saw prostitution, pimpin', felonious assaults, hold-ups, and other crimes up close but it was still relatively safe for a man-child to run the streets at night in the early 70's. As long as I stayed out of Harmsway, i.e. "Grown Folks Business."
I said all that to say this, Betrayal normally slaps the taste out of your mouth when you trust someone to do things with your best interest at heart, but their selfishness far exceeds the bond you share. I learned that before I could speak. And Passion, as I have come to know it is anything that drives, motivates, or pushes us to keep striving toward our goal. Whether it be working feverishly to reach a sexual climax or moving like a runaway slave to keep the date you've made with destiny. In either case, passion is the heat, the fuel, the steam which drives us. My father betrayed me. In doing so, he left me the best gift he could have, the passion to be successful In Spite Of him.
V.M.: At each appearance I've made to discuss the novel, people have said the same thing. "It all sounds so real that it had to have been true." I don't deny that it didn't or couldn't have happened to anyone in particular but the story is my accompulation of many things I saw or overheard on the streets as a child; being where I had no business but learning the ways of the world before my time.
Yes, In Spite Of is in the same spirit of Richard Wright's work. I feel it was the best way I knew how to shout to the top of my lungs how unrighteous this country has been to us and expose how wrong we've been to each other; while utilizing a story line that seemed bold, simple, powerful, passionate, and kind. All on the same page.
V.M.: It took 14 months and 7 re-writes to complete. Feeding a manuscript is like feeding your small child, your baby. You have to give it the best you have or it becomes neglected. I fed mine 4 to 16 hours a day while working a full time job. I wanted, needed my child to grow up strong, bold, and represent me well. Now, I am well-pleased.
Yes, I am working on a third piece but it will be in screen play form. My second novel "Autumn Leaves... Love So Deep" will be on shelves this Sept. of this year. It's being printed now.
V.M.: Maxine, I knew I wanted to be a writer the first time I passed a love letter to the new girl in class and she swooned as much as a seven year old could. The teacher confiscated the note and it even raised her brow. I then knew the power of expression through one's own words.
I havenít been able to quit my 9-5 yet but I am extremely close to leaving my full time gig to write my days away in solitude and splendor. Paid speaking engagements are coming in too and every little bit helps.
V.M.: Well, I approached agents and publishing houses but only one answered back favorably. Thirty seven envelopes that said, "No thank you." I still keep them around as a reminder that "I can't stop pushing just because someone else doesn't think it's my time to hit the ground running." Now I laugh when a book store or distributor orders 200 or 300 hundred books at a time.
V.M.: No, I don't have an agent. I grew weary of trying to make someone take my money to represent me. When and if the time comes, I'll have a much better base to bargain from. I have proven that I have what I takes to get it done myself.
V.M.: Marketing and distributing is far more difficult than writing the book; at least for me. You have to basically convince a store owner to read your books, among all the others they receive, and put them on his or her shelves. Sometimes, that's not enough. For first time authors, store owners should help push it or recommend it if they liked it. Some do, most don't. They seem to rather push accopmished writers. Debuting authors really have to hustle. "Ain't no shame in begging someone to read your novel or carry it. Chances are they'll be begging you later to do a signing at their store. Try http://www.welldonebooks.com
V.M.: This country is undergoing a Black Renaissance in literature right now. I'm glad to be a part of it. That's why I only write hot books with social redeeming value; 'cause some of us are more willing to learn something if you entertain us during the process. I'm a prime example of that myself. The advice I have for yet-to-be writer's and best-sellers is: map out what type of story you want to tell before you began writing it, Know who your market will be, and remain prepared for the next obscacle that will seem to fall from the sky on your head. And much like in life, be prepared to laugh and cry both at the same time. And don't forget to say thank you and please to those standing behind you. It don't cost you nothing. shame. Ain't no shame..." Visit my web site free. "Thanx so much for making the time to fool with me Maxine. And I didn't even have to beg. Thank you."