IN LAURINDA’S OWN WORDS…Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, and graduating from Howard University in Washington, DC, exposed me to the varied and diverse sides of human nature. It also gave me the opportunity to observe people and their situations and try to discern what made them do the things they did. I realized that people are people. My writing helped me work through my own issues, emotions and circumstances. Writing expresses my take on the world.
How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?
I have been a writer all of my life. The first and only whipping my father ever gave me was for attempting to tell a teacher I had lied to her, but I had done so in a letter. “You never tell someone you lied to them,” he scolded.
From that moment, I decided that I was going to use my writing to express my frustrations because it was the one place where I could be understood. I could tell a lie on paper, and then come right back behind it and explain why in words. I didn’t have to face anyone if I didn’t want to, and I could say whatever I wanted. Perhaps, I’d be able to touch someone with what I had to say. As quiet as it’s kept, I’m a bit shy, and I can tell someone they’re fine as hell in letter and run out the room, or even leave the country, before they’d have a chance to read it and tell me I crazy for feeling as I do.
Give a brief description of your newest book, The Highest Price for Passion.
The Highest Price for Passion is my first attempt at historical fiction, and it is set during the period before and during the Civil War. Passion stands for many things in the book, but it is also the name of one of the main characters. A mulatto slave, Passion has pursued by both her master and mistress.
How did you come up with the concept of Passion, and how long did it take you to complete the novel?
Honestly, I don’t know what came over me with this concept. I thought it’d be interesting to have a female slave being chased by her master and mistress. There is a period in history called “The Weeping Time” that serves as the backdrop for the acquisition of Passion, and, after reading about it, I wanted to tie it into the story. It took me about three years to develop it and a year or so to write it. I had to constantly move from one time period to another because I wrote three other books before I was finished with it.
Most of your stories have been contemporary tales with a twist of drama. How was it writing a historical piece?
It was hard! I found it difficult, at first, because I had to be true to the time period. Then, after a while, I began to enjoy the history and became empowered by our struggles.
How did you research the material for Passion?
I read several slave narratives, books about the Civil War and The Weeping Time, and a lot of information on the Internet. I watched some documentaries and even had my kids reading books on the time period.
What was the message you wanted to convey with this book?
That my writing goes far beyond my gay-themed books.
In Passion, it angered me to see blacks treated as second-class citizens, as possessions. Did you feel the same in writing it?
Yes, I did. It was most bothersome when I read the slave narratives.
With the way the slaves were treated in Passion, it makes one realize the freedom we’ve gained as African Americans. How far do you feel we’ve come as a people?
We have come a very long way, but, in today’s society, I see us, at times, regressing because we’ve managed to forget from whence we came. The days of a White woman spitting on us may be gone, but now, we just spit on and disrespect one another.
Passion was the woman born of a slave and a mistress, an unspeakable concept in that time. How did you develop this character?
I took the love between her parents and created her. They were strong individuals, and I poured them into her. Passion represents the strength of true love, but she embodies the strength of any survivor.
You were a success with the publication of your first novel, Fire & Brimstone and its follow-up, Undercover. Is there a chance you will be revisiting these characters?
YES! Right now, I’m working on the script for the play, UnderCover.
Out of all the books you’ve written, who’s your favorite character and why?
Chris from Fire and Brimstone is my favorite because she represents the growth of me.
What are you working on next?
I am working on a few things. I don’t really want to say right now, but, you’ll be among the first to know when I’m ready to talk about it.
What is a typical day like for you?
I get up, get dressed, and take my daughter to school. Then I complete the one-hour drive to my dead-end day job I so desperately want to leave. I write when I can and spend a lot of time working on my productions, “Walk Like A Man – The Play.”
What do you do for fun?
I hang out with my daughters and my partner. They make me laugh and take my mind off the negative things in my life.
What are your favorite books? Favorite authors?
My favorite book is Black Boy by Richard Wright. He is also my favorite author.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Preparing to celebrate my 49th birthday and simply loving life.
What motivates you to write?
Life motivates me to write, and, when I can’t voice my frustrations, I turn to the trusty pen and paper.
What piece of advice can you share with aspiring writers?
Find a place within yourself that allows you to escape from reality. When there, you will find the peace to put your thoughts on paper.
Why do you feel it’s important for black lesbians to tell their own stories, as you did with The Highest Price for Passion?
It is important that our voices are heard and for people to realize we are not invisible…no matter what time period it is.
Interviewed October 2008
Laurinda D. Brown’s Reviews