IN FIONA’S OWN WORDS…i’m a 29-year-old lesbian currently living in atlanta, georgia with my partner and a few dying plants. i was born in jamaica but spent ages 13-21 in florida. at the moment i’m writing a lot and trying to find the right wage-earning job to support my writing habit. come check out my website at: www.fionazedde.com for more information about me and my work.
How long have you been writing and how did you get started?
i’ve been writing for as long as i can remember having access to pen(cil) and paper. i entered some writing contests in high school but didn’t start “being serious” about my writing until after i graduated from college and moved to atlanta. since this serious phase started i’ve gotten a few short stories published in various anthologies (best lesbian erotica 2005, wicked: sexy tales of legendary lovers, necrologue: book of the dead and the undead, plus a few others).
Give a brief synopsis of your book, Bliss.
sinclair, a young “straight” woman living a posh yet unsatisfied life in new york, gets seduced by a hottie in high heels and taken on a sensual roller coaster ride. after this ride comes to a crashing halt, sinclair escapes to jamaica where she soon discovers family, friends, and a surprising new lover.
How long did you work on Bliss?
it took me about a year to write BLISS. i wrote it, submitted it to a few places, then realized (with some help) that it wasn’t quite ready. after six months of re-writes i sent it out again in a much better form.
What was the process to get Bliss published with a major publishing company like Kensington?
i got an agent first. and she already had the connection with kensington, so…
How well has Bliss been received?
so far, so good. i’ve gotten really great feedback from people, friends as well as strangers. a lot of them seem to want a sequel, but we’ll see.
Bliss‘ protagonist, Sinclair, seemed very sexually repressed until she was seduced by adventurous Regina. Was it hard creating a character like Sinclair?
not at all. many of us have a little prude tucked away deep inside us, no matter how “free” we may seem. i had long conversations with mine until she agreed to present herself on the page.
Is Sinclair a character based on your or anyone else’s personality?
she’s not based on any one person. she’s a little bit of me, a dash of women i’ve had conversations with, along with a healthy dose of some (un-named) family members.
Your descriptions of Jamaica were so vivid. What was it like growing up on the island?
it was wonderful. in the part of jamaica where i’m from, i was surrounded by beauty and peace and the lovely rhythms in the voices of people familiar to me. i’m sure i’ve idealized the memory somewhat since i don’t live there anymore, but most people, especially those growing up in rural JA will agree
somewhat with what i’ve said.
Do you see any similarities/differences between African-American and Jamaican lesbians?
the similarities i’ve noticed is that we’re both (mostly) black women having to struggle many times against our own communities to stay safe and alive. we’re all women who love women. we’re strong. The main difference comes with the accents and that African American lesbians usually feel more free in expressing who they are. even when jamaican lesbians and bi-gyrls move to the states, they still have families here that they are afraid will ostracize and penalize them for loving as they do.
What are you working on next?
i just finished my second novel that’s due to come out next august. right now it’s called A TASTE OF SIN and it’s about lesbians in miami.
Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite books?
jewelle gomez (don’t explain), alice walker (in love and trouble), laura kinsale (the shadow and the star), michelle cliff (abeng), melissa good (tropical storm), d. giselle isaac (considering venus), pablo neruda (full woman, fleshly apple, hot moon), and a few others I don’t have the space to name.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
happily living in mexico with my lover, writing bestselling novels, and eating marvelous food everyday.
What piece of advice can you share with aspiring writers?
don’t be afraid to fully commit to or submit your work. both are essential to success.
Why do you think it’s important for black lesbians to tell our own stories, like you did with Bliss?
it’s important to do this so that we, and others coming up after us, will realize and acknowledge and affirm that our stories are important. we exist on the streets, in the offices, in the church, in the bedroom. we should exist on the printed page too. besides, if we don’t tell our own authentic stories, who will?
Interviewed September 2005
Fiona Zedde’s Reviews