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Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Our Conversation with Bestselling author Deatri King Bey
Here is our conversation.
• Deatri, on behalf of Conversations, thank you for taking out the time to speak with us and your fans. After I read your book BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, I knew that I had to talk with you about it. Before we get to the inspiration, let’s talk about you. When you sit down to write who is it mainly for, you or others?
Thank you for having me. I’m so glad you enjoyed BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I don’t write your typical romance (smile). In answer to your question, most of the time I write for myself. I often teasingly tell people I hear voices in my head, and if I don’t write their stories, they’ll drive me crazy. Other times I’m writing for a certain person or population.
• I hear many authors talk about writing like it is their voice to the world. Is it that for you, and was it easy to find your voice?
I’ve never thought of my writing as my voice to the world, but that works for me. By people reading my novels, I reach a larger audience….hmmm I’d best watch what I write, huh. (LOL) Just playing.
I have a very distinct writing voice that has pretty much always been with me. My teachers started pointing out my writing voice when I’d turn in my term papers. I could never just give the facts. I had a dramatic way of wording.
• The story in Beauty and the Beast is one that all of us can relate to, because we all know someone who is broken and in need of care. Tell us about your inspiration for the book.
My best friend has a degenerative bone disease and feels no man will ever love her because of how she looks physically. My husband has bi-polar disorder (manic depression). People have often associated him with being a beast because they don’t understand his illness.
• One of the things you mentioned in the book is that discussing mental illness is something that is still not too common in the African-American community. Why do you think that is?
In my opinion, many still feel shame or are embarrassed about mental illness. Many view it as a weakness or instead of realizing many mental illnesses are a chemical imbalances. And don’t get me started on seeing psychologist and psychiatrist. That’s for CRAZY PEOPLE. At least that’s how many see it.
• In BEAUTY AND THE BEAST I love the way you put strong characters in a setting of financial stability---something that is not seen too often in contemporary African-American fiction. How important was it for you to create people that showed a degree of success?
Well the people were successful financially, but unhappy. In this novel, because I was tackling the depression issue, I wanted to make them well off. I didn’t want readers to say Bruce was acting like a beast because he was having financial difficulties.
• Sticking with how your characters are portrayed, do you think that authors like yourself or pressured to compete with some of the books on the market that might seem to glorify or promote the grittiness of the streets?
I think some authors feel pressured when they see their royalty statements, but I don’t. I write mainly for me. I hope the readers enjoy my work. The more the merrier, but I don’t worry about what type of books are selling.
• I think every author wants their reader to leave with something. When it comes to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, what is it that you hope we glean from it?
If the readers come away with a better understanding of what true beauty is and aren’t are less timid about broaching the subject of mental illness, I’m happy. I think different people will get different things out of the novel. I placed questions at the end of the novel in hopes to spark discussions.
• Can you give us an idea of what will be next for you?
I moved over the summer, so I have three novels I need to submit to publishers. Two mainstreams and one fantasy romance. I’m also writing two other books. I’m still unpacking, so it may take me a while to actually start submitting again. I am also helping organize the 2008 Romance Slam Jam to be held in Chicago. I hope to see everyone there. http://www.romanceslamjamconference.com
• Thank you again, Deatri, for taking out the time to spend with us. How can our readers stay in touch with you and find out about your other projects?
And thank you, again. I have three other novels out, a newsletter, and am always writing articles. Please visit me at my website: http://www.deewrites.com or email me any time Deatri@deewrites.com.