Monday, March 05, 2012
FEATURED AUTHOR: Jacqueline Luckett
Nicole-Marie Handy has loved all things French since she was a child. After the death of her best friend, determined to get out of her rut, she goes to Paris, leaving behind a marriage proposal. While there Nicole chances upon an old photo inscribed with familiar handwriting. What starts as a vacation quickly becomes an unexpected adventure.
Moving back and forth in time between the sparkling Paris of today and the jazz-fueled city filled with expatriates in the 1950s, PASSING LOVE is the story of two women dealing with lost love, secrets, and betrayal…and how the City of Light may hold all the answers.
Book Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ0oXo1PXyU&feature=email
Hear the author talk about Passing Love in her own words:
After leaving the corporate world, Jacqueline Luckett took a creative writing class on a dare—from herself—and began writing short stories and poetry, and never looked back. The Bay Area native lives in Oakland, but travels to nurture her passion for photography and cooking exotic foods.
Passing Love, Jacqueline’s recent novel, is a story of secrets and betrayal in Paris. People Magazine called the novel, “Beautifully written and filled with vibrant scenes of Paris in its Jazz Age and today . . . a treat.” Jacqueline’s debut novel, Searching for Tina Turner, was an Essence Magazine Book Club selection. Her essay, “Traveling with Ghosts,” is included in Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011.
How did you start out your writing career?
For as far back as I can remember, my parents, uncles, aunts and cousins gathered together on Friday nights. As the oldest of the cousins, once I became a teenager, I was designated chief babysitter. We made tents an had talent shows, but as the night went on I kept my cousins from misbehaving by telling stories. I also wrote stories and poems for the children’s page in a local newspaper.
The love of writing has always been a part of me, but I never pursued it in high school or college. To this day, I unsure why, but coming from a family where I was the first to attend college, writing didn't seem to be a career option. Instead, I became an avid reader. Many years later, the desire to write and tell stories resurfaced. I’d written business letters and proposals during my corporate career, but I was looking for the chance to use my imagination and my love of language. I enrolled in a creative writing class at a local university and the challenge I gave myself opened up a whole new world for me.
What did you learn while writing this book?
PASSING LOVE explores what it means to live an ordinary life. As humans, it’s often our habit to look at the lives of the famous, or those we admire, and think that their lives are so much more exciting and interesting than our own. While that may be true on some level, what is really true is this: “ordinary” exists in everyone’s life. It’s what we do in our lives that makes us and our chosen paths extraordinary. We must appreciate our lives, value our experiences, and live in gratitude.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
Often we defer our dreams. Sometimes the reasons are legitimate—money, work schedules, and personal obligations don’t always allow us to explore or experience new places. Sometimes we don’t move forward because we’re afraid.
The two main characters in PASSING LOVE have different approaches to life. Nicole deferred her dream of going to Paris out of fear. While, on the other hand, Ruby doesn’t hesitate to do what it takes to get her where she wants to be.
I wrote these characters in the hope that readers would understand that fictional situations can inspire real life. It’s not as important how long it takes to get to the dream as it is to fulfill the dream. I’m hoping that both Nicole and Ruby inspire my readers to act.
What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?
I was interested in writing a conventional love story around the idea of passing—and all its iterations. I brainstormed ideas about the way people love and all the opportunities for love that pass us in our lives. Ruby came first. I liked the idea of a gutsy young woman who went after what she wanted. I needed to balance Ruby’s almost unbridled nature with someone more conservative—and so, Nicole arrived.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Whenever I’m asked to pose for pictures with my readers, I’m really surprised. I'm a bit camera-shy. Also, I will never cease to be surprised, and I love it, at the sight of my novels on bookstore shelves.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
Hate isn't exactly the right word, hardest might work better for me. Some writers have an entire story written in their heads before they ever type a word. For me, the first draft is the hardest because I only have an idea of how the story begins. What the characters are planning to do is still unclear. It’s hard to release control of the story and let it flow its own way. In the first draft, I’m flushing out the story, trying to get to know my characters, their personalities and quirks.
I don’t mind revising. Actually, I love it. It seems to be more of an action oriented task. During revision I know who the characters are and they begin to take over the story.
As for love? I love the whole process of writing from creation through revision to sending off the finally edited manuscript. I love printing out an entire manuscript, thumbing through it, and knowing that every word, every sentence, every period and comma came out of my head.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
1) That, for the most part, book tours for new authors are virtually non-existent. You’ve got to do a lot on your own even before your book is published.
2) That people would take advantage of my inexperience. Enough said.
3) The importance of networking.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do learn as much as you can about the publishing industry. Try to develop relationships and form networks with experienced authors.
Don’t worry about how much money you think you’ll make or how well your book will do. Just write.
What one thing about writing do you wish non-writers would understand?
At a reading about a year ago, J. California Cooper talked about how much thinking she does; sometimes whole days “just thinking.”
Thinking about story, character, plot twists and turns is part of the writing process—so don’t laugh when I say that’s what I’m doing and don’t imply that I’m doing nothing or wasting my time.
Tell us something few know about you?
I’m a ham at heart, and a smart aleck to boot.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to read. I take classes, unrelated to writing, that stretch my creativity in other directions. Last year, I took an improvisation class at a local theater. This year I’m taking calligraphy and modern dance.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I’m not the best at keeping up with social media. I post on Facebook and Twitter when I feel like I have something interesting to share. If there’s time after a reading, I enjoy chatting with the audience-the one-on-is great. I answer my fan mail.
Our theme for this issue is Resources On The Net. What resources on the net have been helpful in your writing?
Wikipedia is the only resource I use consistently. I use it to fact check details, images, names and event dates, among other things. In PASSING LOVE, Ruby’s boyfriend played the saxophone and Ruby had it in her head that she could sing. I used Wikipedia to research songs, lyrics, and expressions popular during the early 1950s.
Who was the first author you ever met?
The first writing workshop I attended was Voice of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA). http://voicesatvona.org/Home.html VONA offers workshops for writers-of-color. The classes are taught by published, prominent authors including Danzy Senna, Junot Diaz, and poet Ruth Forman.
My first workshop was with author Cristina Garcia (The Lady Matador’s Hotel). I don’t remember much of what we did in that class. I was in awe of being in the presence of people who called themselves writers and someone whose work I’d read. She was down to earth, helpful and encouraging.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
That it’s never too late to start over or to follow your dream.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
Wish I could, but, right now I'm still framing the story idea. I’ve been accepted to two writing residency programs this year. My goal is to spend that time putting together a first draft. I’ll continue to write novels that focus on reinvention, starting over, and women in the middle of their life. I want my readers to know that life doesn’t end at 50 and I want mature women to relate to the adventures and struggles of characters who are just like them.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
Follow my blog on my website and join my email list for updates on appearances.
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