Monday, June 22, 2009

The Meltingpot Interview -- And a Giveaway Too!

Tomorrow, June 23rd, award-winning author Carleen Brice's highly anticipated second novel will debut. Her first novel, Orange Mint & Honey won a slew of awards, was optioned by Lifetime Television and is a personal favorite of the Meltingpot.

Because Ms. Brice is a friend and a fan of the Meltingpot, we wanted to ask her for a little preview and background about her new novel, Children of the Waters. So without further ado:

The Meltingpot: Can you tell us what your new book Children of the Waters is about?

Carleen Brice: It's about 2 women, 1 white and 1 who has been adopted and raised by a black family and thinks of herself as black, but finds out she's biracial and is the birth-sister of the white woman.

MP: What I loved about your first novel, Orange Mint & Honey is that your main characters happened to be Black, but the book wasn't about race at all. But race plays a central role in Children of the Waters. In writing the book, did you want to say something about race or did you just come up with this story idea of a family dealing with a secret?

CB:Both. I wanted to explore ideas about race and I wanted to tell a story about family secrets.

MP: As a Black woman, was it difficult to write the character of Trish, the White sister in Children of the Waters? Why or Why not?

CB: No, it wasn't hard to write Trish. I would hope I captured her humanity as well as I tried to do with all the characters, regardless of their race. I wanted to write about a character who didn't see herself as being racist, but finds out she does have some stereotypes and prejudices buried inside her. I think most people do.

I got sort of dinged in a review because the two sisters, Trish & Billie, weren't seen as being different enough from each other. I know difference leads to conflict and that leads to drama. But I didn't want to tell a story about a stereotypical white woman and a stereotypical black woman and place them in the south. I think that's a cop-out--racial issues are more nuanced that that. I was interested in telling a story about 2 well-rounded women and in saying something about people, which is we have more in common than we do differences.

MP: Well said! I know many writers get their fiction ideas from real-life events. I'm wondering if you know someone or ever heard about a family situation like the one you write about in this book? It wouldn't surprise me.

CB: Yes, this is loosely based on a true story that happened to one of my sisters-in-law. In real life she was adopted and raised by a white family so when she met her white birth sister race wasn't really an issue.

MP: I recently sold my first novel and it's written in the alternating voices of a Black woman and a White woman, much like Children of the Waters. Yet and still, the editor who acquired my book had to convince the rest of the house that non-Black people would read the book. You've written a book here with a strong White female protagonist, does your publisher still treat this as a "Black book?" And if so, how do feel about that?

CB: Oh Lori, I hate to hear that! I'm not sure I know how my publisher completely sees my book. It is being published under the One World imprint, which publishes black books. However, it's also part of their Reader's Circle program, which is a general book club program, and my publicist is working on reaching a wide variety of media. I think they do a good job marketing, but, there's always room to grow...which is why I started my blog, White Readers Meet Black Authors. I'm hoping publishing, booksellers and readers get hip to the idea that a good book is a good book, no matter what race the author or characters are.

MP: I hope so too. Now, your first three books were non-fiction titles. What made you switch to fiction?

CB: Fiction is where my heart is, though I went through a time when I was reading more nonfiction and felt that it was an easier transition for me to make. My degree is in journalism, so it wasn't as big of a stretch to try nonfiction first.

MP: So what's next? More fiction or a return to non-fiction? And what can we expect from "White Readers, Meet Black Authors?" I'm hoping for a new video.

CB: Definitely more fiction. I'm hoping actually to try my hand at something new, but I have to stay mum on that for now. The White Readers Meet Black Authors site is still going. I'm hoping to post another video this fall. I printed up some buttons that say "I heart black authors" and I'm passing them around at book events. I plan to continue fighting the good fight.

Thanks Carleen. Good luck with everything!

And you all might want to thank Carleen too because one lucky reader of the Meltingpot will receive an autographed copy of Children of the Waters. You have until Sunday night June 28th to leave a comment stating one random fact you learned by visiting Carleen's website.



Color Online said...

Me, me, me. lol

Oh, you know I want this book. I've been reading Carleen's blog for a bit now. Random fact? I suppose I didn't know how many black people have mixed feelings about an AA section in bookstores. It certainly gave me something to think about and helped me to go with the argument to eliminate them. Let readers stretch and take time to check out books.

Loved the interview and looking forward to reading the book.

sheliag said...

Orange Mint & Honey was one of my favorite reads last year. One random fact--Lifetime has optioned as a movie. I'm thrilled about that. Children of the Waters sounds like it will be a great book club discussion book--it should also offer good conversation between friends who may be of different races.

helpmelord9560 said...
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msatch said...

I didn't realize that Carleen was also the author of non fiction books. The transition is fascinating to me. That, I didn't know.

*DeShanna* said...

Today, I just learned about this author from a tweet on twitter by @deberryandgrant! This book sounds likes its going to be good, and I am going to put her on my list of authors to check out at the library! Another great add to my AA Author collection!

debra said...

I loved Orange Mint and Honey as did my oldest daughter. C

Random factoid: She lives in Colorado with her husband and two cats where she gardens-- (and she has posted beautiful photos on her blog---not random fact :-)

Alexandra Zealand said...

No random comment, just wanted to say that I'm looking forward to reading the new one, and I really enjoyed reading this interview.

Anonymous said...

This looks like this would be a nice story. I hope to get a chance to read it.

For the random fact: Carleen states that she's written 2 books about half-sisters, but she has yet to meet her own half-sister.

The fact struck a cord because I have 3 half-sisters that I first saw at our father's funeral (I had just turned 8, so I don't remember what they looked like) and had not seen since until I saw 1 of them about 30 years later. One of them died & I still have yet to meet the other one (as an adult).

Anonymous said...

That she has a lovely garden and that she takes amazing flower-porn! :o)

Tara Betts said...

Hey Carleen,
glad to hear about your continued success. Other than that, I think it's interesting how our portrayals have to fit some expectation of how racial identity is played out in a story or even everyday interactions. It's good that you're not hindered to write by this, even though the implications of race are in the plot, it seems.

Carleen Brice said...

Color Online, I am surprised by how many black readers have been turned off by the wave of urban fiction, so much so that even black readers are avoiding the AfAm section in bookstores. Very troublesome!
Sheliag, Thank you!
Msatch, Yep nonfiction and fiction. Something that surprised me: fiction is much more self-revealing.
DeShanna, Yay! Thanks for checking me out.
Debra, Thank you & your daughter for the compliment.
Alexandra, Thanks for reading.
Anon, Interesting. I think this probably happens in lots of families.
Teri, Yay flower porn!
Tara, We'll see how readers think I did, but I really wasn't interested in creating the story in black and white, pun intended. Shades of gray, shades of gray.

Angelia... said...

I am looking forward to the new one, loved Orange Mint and Honey...I also love the Pajama Gardener Blog...and congrats on the Lifetime option...


Melissa said...

I had never heard of this author but I really enjoyed reading your interview with her. I now want to read Orange Mint and Honey and the new book.
Random fact: Target has selected Orange Mint and Honey as a Bookmarked Break Out Book!