Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Interview with Anita Roysten and Joslyn Gaines Vanderpool

Today I have a special treat for you. It's a double interview with two fabulous writers. Anita Roysten and Joslyn Gaines Vanderpool are co-writers for the Brave, Bold and Beautiful book series. Let's get to know them.

Welcome, ladies. Tell us a bit about yourselves and hoow long you've been writing?

Joslyn: I've been writing professionally for more than 25 years. It was a fluke; in college I started with bonehead English. I was born with imagination, not proper syntax, but I became a congressional intern in Washington, DC and then I worked for a national public interest organization in the mail room, and began editing copy and writing about a myriad of issues from Apartheid to human relations, and nuclear defense systems. I attended press conferences and the like. Thereafter, I joined DC Black Journalist and worked as a freelancer for an urban magazine and as a staff member for a political magazine that covered issues related to federal, state and local policy affecting youth.

Anita: I have been writing since I was a little girl. I started writing short stories for people at church, then short plays that we would invite family and neighbors into the backyard to see. As a young adult, I started writing plays that had meaning and would entertain as well as teach such as "Are you in the Dark?", a play about acholol intervention and drug awareness. We took that one to schools, churches and social assistance organizations. I have always liked to snatch a thought out of the air and commit it to paper.


J & A: "Our Black Fathers" is a dream come true. It is a way to celebrate a demographic group that has not too often been written about from a positive perspective. All of our lives, we have noticed that there is a certain look of sorrow or burden in the eyes of black men, which signified some level of pain. They have lived difficult lives. The other books in our series are equally exciting because they will inspire and make an impact too. The key of the series to bring forth more understanding and appreciation of one another, regardless of where we come from and who we are.

How did the idea of putting together the anthology come to you?

J & A: We were at a meeting to discuss a program to prepare middle school aged children and their parents for college. One of the speakers totally savaged Black men stating that there were no fathers
around in our community and that was why many black students were failing academically or were either absent from the college landscape. We knew that wasn't true of any of our friends. Our fathers, had always been there in loving and supportive ways. Although we didn't know each other on a personal level, we struck up a conversation after that meeting when the handful of black women in the groupwere asked if we had experienced a "no father" childhood. Everyone adamantly replied, "no." So we were on to something. If our fathers had been there for us and were wonderful, we knew that many other black fathers were involved in the lives of their children and simply were not being recognized. Our love for our fathers, and the need to reveal a balanced perspective about Black men was too great not to write about. We started to write only about our fathers but thought that there had to be droves of loving, and present and accounted for Black fathers. Thus the idea of an anthology was born to share as many stories as possible to drown out the stereotype that there were no decent black fathers in our midst. We sent out a call for stories and the rest is history.

How long did it take to compile the collection?

J & A: It was like birthing a child -- nine months to be exact to collect stories, edit, rewrite and publish. It should have taken a lot longer but we put out a release date and many of our writers prepared to sell the book so we had to pull some late hours to make it happen in nine months. It's easier to have a baby!

What is the hardest part of writing for each of you?

Joslyn: I love words, thus writing is like rain. That's why I love it! However, when you're writing about a loved one, you want to get it right. There are also times when you have to let a story go. You've
already gone over it, rewritten it, reread it, etc. so it's hard once you've given birth to it, to set it free because of the fear it will be rejected. You have to write it for you. Of course you want to appease your audience, but ultimately, you have to like what you're putting on paper.

Anita: For me the hardest part is the editing. I like to say I am a re-writer. Putting down my thoughts is one thing. To go back and polish them up for public consumption is not my favorite part.

Who are your inspirations?

Anita: I am inspired by writers like Edgar Allen Poe and Guy de Maupsant who took the time to add enough detail for you to grasp hold of the time and place being described. There are also writers such as Sister Souljah and Theresa Gonzalves who boldly tell it like it is, pulling no punches, telling on themselves in order for the reader to better believe the stories. I am inspired by those four writers more and any because I feel I am not quite there yet.

Joslyn: It is not always a who that inspires me, but sometimes it is a phrase that inspires me or something someone says that makes me want to find out a little more. So in order for a story to evolve I just need something that interest me to begin the writing process.

Let's get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have
to have nearby when writing?

Joslyn: Nothing, only an urge or mood to write. I can stay transfixed all day at the computer.

Anita: Noise. I have to hear music and/or have a notepad and several pens nearby. Then I am ready!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Joslyn: To bring peace, comfort, happiness and a lot of fun to every person, and every pocket of the world.

Anita: My superpower would be to wave my wand and make sure everyone one is healthy, happy, educated,has enough money to pay bills and is free of racial and gender prejudices and other such hang-ups!

Quick writing test! Anita, use the following words in a sentence: racecar, chemistry, and centipede.

Because I took chemistry, with a little dip in my solution a centipede can move as fast as a racecar.

Joslyn, use these words in a sentence: rollerblades, eagle, and lime.

If I received a lime for every eagle that rollerblades, I could never make a perfect margarita.

Here's the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

J & A: We'd like to thank all of the fathers whose legacies have inspired us, as well as the tremendous stories from our contributors. We'd also like to thank our families and friends, the bookstore proprietors, radio and television hosts, workshop and book fair organizers, fellow authors, our graphic designer and all of those who helped us in some capacity along the way. However, our biggest thanks is extended to those who purchased the book and have validated its worth. When we show it to black men, many of them thank us or give us a hug. We ask that they continue to spread the world that black fathers' legacies must be read and preserved.

And finally, where can people find you online?

J & A: You can connect with us at
Our Black Fathers: Brave, Bold and Beautiful! can be ordered from our website or via Amazon and or by calling 1-800-277-2330.

Thank you, Anita and Joslyn, for chatting with us today. Your books sound amazing. I wish you much success! :)

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