Joins us as we chat with Maxine thompson, author of Hostage of Lies and one of Sexy Ebony Book Club's May 2010 Featured Authors. Please feel free to comment on the interview. And don't forget to visit the Sexy Ebony BBW African American Book Club website for a chance to win a the Maxine Thompson Pamper Yourself Prize Packet. Contest ends June 5, 2010.
1) Tell us about yourself? My name is Dr. Maxine Thompson. I’m a wife and caregiver for my husband. I’m the mother of four adult children, and twelve grandchildren with one new grandbaby due in September 2010. Since my oldest sister’s death two years ago, I’m the oldest living female in my family of origin, which makes me somewhat of the matriarch.
From 1974, I worked as a social worker in Detroit for seven years, then from 1981, I did social work in Los Angeles for sixteen years. I’ve been working on line as a literary entrepreneur since 1999, but I self-published my first novels in 1995 and 1997. It was very difficult to get your books out back then. Being a literary entrepreneur is a second career for me.
2) How long have you been writing? What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? The first time I wrote a story I was eight years old. It was after a movie went off and I wanted the story to go on and on. Later, my friends used to act out my stories as well.
Unfortunately, no one told you back in the 1950s that, as a little black girl, you could make a living telling stories.
Another reason I’m a writer is I’ve always been an avid reader. Unfortunately, I only found one black book in the library as a child. Looking back, I’ve always been an activist. In the twelfth grade, I organized a walk-out which resulted in us getting a Black history teacher. We also wound up with a Black Literature section in our English class, using the anthology, Black Voices and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
3) This month we will be spotlighting your book Hostage of Lies? Tell us a little about this book. Why should readers go out today and purchase a copy of Hostage of Lies? Actually, Hostage of Lies started out as a self-published book in 1997. It never really got any attention after I stopped promoting in 2001, due to growing my editorial business and Radio shows. Since Hostage of Lies has been re-issued by Urban Books/Kensington, it has been voted a Best Book of 2009 by EDC Creations and picked up by two book clubs, Book Span and Black Expressions.
Hostage of Lies is a tale of family secrets and lies, which extend back to slavery in one fictional family. The story is symbolic of how many African Americans really don’t know a lot about their family history, particularly given our slave past and our abduction from Africa, the Motherland.
4) As one book drops another is always on the horizon. When will your next book be released? Can we get a bit of a preview of the next bestseller by Maxine Thompson? My next book is LA Blues, an urban crime thriller, which I’m excited about. I’ve content edited a number of street fiction titles for Triple Crown, as well as the Dirty Red series for Vickie Stringer, so I admit, I love crime books. I want to write a series that makes you think of The Wire, showing a cross section of society.
LA Blues was due out in August 2010, but I’m not sure now. At any rate, LA Blues is a story about a female private investigator, Zipporah (known as Z) Saldano, who was a former foster child, then an LAPD officer before she got fired due to an alcohol problem. I’m loving her journey as she faces past demons. She falls in love with character, Detective Romero Hernandez.
5)Dr. Maxine Thompson is a very busy women in the literary world. Between providing various literary services including editing, ghost writing, and work as a literary agent. You also have your own internet radio show where you have showcased some of the best the literary world has to offer readers. Please tell us just a little about your various literary endeavors. How can writers interested in your services and/or your show contact you for more information? I’m a content/story development editor. I’ve edited books that have made New York Times bestseller’s list and others or won awards. Editing is a learned skill. In my case, it also comes from living and working with people from so many walks of life when I was a social worker.
I am also a literary agent for sixty book deals. I just brokered a book deal for Rosalyn McMillan with Urban Books so I’m excited. An interested writer can call me at 323-242-9917 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6) You are a very busy woman. Between writing and the other services you provide how do you find time for self? How do you manage the various roles you juggle and still find time to just be Maxine Thompson? I’m a person who believes in downtime to sharpen your axe. One day a week, I try to rest and I don’t do anything. I try to take a power nap every day. In fact, I didn’t work at all in March 2010. I just sat still, prayed, meditated. I was burnt out. The cure for me has always been stepping away.
I’m a former working mother, a role which prepared me to multi-task, but I’m also at an age where I know when I’ve had enough. I learned as a mother, you can have it all, but not all at the same time. I tend to focus on one thing at a time. While I built my literary agency and radio show, I only wrote nonfiction articles/books. Now, I’m happy to be back to writing fiction again.
I’ve had the empty nest for eleven years so that’s how I was able to travel to China, go to conferences around the states, go on literary cruises, etc., as I built my business. However, two years ago, after my husband was diagnosed with Huntington ’s chorea and dementia (among other ailments) and I had major thyroid surgery, things changed. I haven’t been able to get out as much. After voice therapy, acupuncture, my continued ten years of massage therapy, walking, etc., I’m much better.:)
Recently, I hired a caregiver, and enrolled my husband in an Adult Day Center, so some of my time is more freed up. I plan to start back traveling. I have a cruise to the Bahamas scheduled for this summer. I also have a housekeeper once every month or so.
Women with small children don’t realize until their children are grown how free they will become. But with people living longer now, more and more, people are either going to become a caregiver or need a caregiver, so such is the life cycle.
7) What is a typical day for you like when you are on a writing deadline? I unplug the phone. I get up and work on my novel, and try to write at least 2 to 3 thousand words a day.
8)What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a writer? Sadly, I grew up never seeing images of Blacks in books or on TV. As a result, we had a game called, “Playing White,” since it looked like whites had all the privilege.
For this reason, my goal as a literary entrepreneur is to help the upcoming generations of black girls and boys not to have to idealize another race and to be proud of who they are. This happens a lot when they see books with people who look like them in the books.
Also, just trying to break into the industry back in the 90s, which is why I self-published. It has not been easy getting book deals as a literary agent either, but I do believe in the power of persistence.
9) Where do you see yourself a year from now? I’m getting back to an original goal of publishing authors using POD and ebooks. I have my first two books getting ready to launch in about 2 to 3 months. One is: The Woman Behind the Badge by Joanne Neely, which is about one of the first African American Federal Marshals in D.C. The other is: The Miraculous Power of Massage by Van Womack.
As a literary agent, I plan to see some of the writers I represent hit the New York Times Bestseller’s list so that their books can go mainstream. I also would like to see some of my books, as well as some of the authors I represent, go from book to film. I’m pitching books to producers to this end.
I’ve also started back reviewing books, which has brought back the joy of reading for me. When you work in this business, sometimes you lose your original joy and what brought you here in the first place. That’s my goal. To stay joyful while I’m doing what I love.
10) What are you reading now? Who are your favorite authors? I’m currently reading Tom Knox’s novel, The Marks of Cain, Michelle McGriff’s novel, Blood Relations (I’m also her agent for 15 book deals), She Who Finds a Husband by E. N. Joy, and Black Water Rising by Attica Locke. I just finished both Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Wench and Carleen Brice’s novel (also liked the lifetime movie,) Orange Mint and Honey, which I enjoyed.
I used to always say Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor were my favorite African American writers, because I only had white writers to read, many of them male.
But now I’m proud to name all these younger writers I love to read. Carl Weber. (Big Girls Do Cry, et. al.). Vickie Stringer (Dirty Red series). Of course, I love the works of the writers I act as a literary agent for: Michelle McGriff (author of 25 books), Shelia Goss (latest Hollywood Deception, et.al.), Charlene Green (And They’ll Come Home, et.al.) Suzetta Perkins, (Nothing Stays the Same, et.al), Roslyn Wyche-Hamilton (Finding Joy in Pain series), D.Y. Phillips, (Love Trumps Game), Leola Charles, (Hussey Place, et. al.), Monica Carter, (Scandalous Truth, et. al.)
11) Tell us about the online and offline personal appearances you have planned over the next couple of months. Where can readers connect with you up close and personal. On 4-24-10 and 4-25-10, I will be at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA. I plan to go to the Urban Book Knowledge stores sometimes in the fall to do an East coast tour.
12) How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? Readers can email me at email@example.com. I have two websites, http://www.maxinethompson.com/ and http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com/. They can also reach me on http://www.twitter/safari61751, facebook/Maxine-Thompson, http://myspace.com/maxinethompson.com.
13) What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I want readers to know that I feel I have a message and I’m on a mission. When I left my job in October 1997, I only intended to write my books. I never planned to become an editor, or a literary agent, or an Internet radio show host. I can only say that when God has a plan for you, He will open up doors, and have you be able to do things with His help, that you cannot do of your own power. Now that time has passed, I realize everything good or bad I went through in life was to prepare me for this moment. As the Bible says, “It was for such a time as this.”
14) If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be? We are seeing our first African American literary entrepreneurs starting companies, building an infrastructure, so I am pleased. The literary world has changed a lot, and now there are no reasons to let gatekeepers keep you out the industry. Self-publish your story, but get it professionally edited and formatted.