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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My interview with Terry McMillan


Acclaimed author Terry McMillan is coming to Charlotte.

McMillan will take the stage with fellow New York Times Bestselling author Omar Tyree on Saturday at the McGlohon Theatre.

This event is a part of the "Change is Coming to Charlotte" Event Series. Sponsored by RealEyes Bookstore and the Charlotte Literary Festival, the "Change is Coming to Charlotte" Event Series is a fundraiser for the Charlotte Literary Festival and the Kickoff to Writing Scholarship Program.

But before McMillan hits the stage, she gave Creative Loafing 15 minutes to pick her brain.

Creative Loafing: What do you think of the current state of the literary market?

Terry McMillan: Based on what's going on with the economy, the market is tougher, especially for African American writers. And there's so much of the street fiction out there that it's starting to cancel each other out. As far as African American writers in general, there are a lot of fine young writers out here, who are not getting the kind of attention that they deserve. Good quality fiction has seemed to fascinate the publishing industry as much as some of this other stuff, because it doesn't seem to have been selling. But, I think publishers are getting tired of this fiction that is written with all of this gratuitous sex and violence. It doesn't represent what's going on. It's not even pleasurable to read. Some of that stuff is scary.

So, what are you currently reading?

I just started reading James McBride, "Song Yet Sung." And I started reading a memoir by a writer, a southern writer, his name is Rick Bragg.

Do you plan on ever writing a memoir?

No. My life hasn't been tragic enough and plus, I don't think my life is all that interesting. And I don't want people to know--this is my business. I write fiction to express and explain a lot of things that I see happen to people and some of which that has happened to me, emotionally, but I can dispense with it through my characters. To me, it is a lot more redeeming. I love memoirs, especially really good ones. But there have been some horrific things that have happened to people, but I don't think that one of the things you need to write a good one. But what's been happening over the last few years is the more shocking it is, the more they think it is interesting. You don't have to have a catastrophic life to write a good memoir.

What are you working on now?

I'm working a novel, yes, Lord. I just changed the title of a chapter. What was it called? "If I Sit Still Long Enough." That's not the chapter now; it's called "14 Years." That's the name of a chapter, but the novel is called "Getting Back To Happy." I'm about two-thirds through it. I'm going to read from it in North Carolina. I cannot believe how many times I've been to North Carolina. I just came back from North Carolina, I was in Greensboro, I was at Wake Forest [University].

Oprah Winfrey bought the movie rights to your novel, "The Interruption of Everything." Are we ever going to see this book on the big screen?
Want to read more? Log on to: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/theclog/2009/04/14/fifteen-minutes-with-terry-mcmillian/

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