I've talked about Fiona Zedde a lot.
And if you're in L.A., you can meet her tonight solo (Thursday, September 13 at 7:30 pm, A Different Light West Hollywood) or next week (Monday, September 17 at 7:30 pm, same bookstore) as part of a panel of contributors to a new anthology, Iridescence: Sensuous Shades of Lesbian Erotica.
So when I first met Fiona Zedde at In The Life Atlanta in September 2005, I was very excited. We were both on our first novels -- me, Down For Whatever; Fiona, Bliss. We were (and still are) on the same publisher label, Kensington. And we hit it off!
Now, Fiona has just published her third novel, Every Dark Desire, which came out Tuesday, June 26. I'm so proud to share similar career paths and friendship... and now, I want to share a little bit of her with you. We talked/interviewed recently about her life, accomplishments, and her contributions to black LGBT literature over the past years.
1. So you're about to publish your third novel in three years. Congratulations! Tell us a little about the third book, and what's similar or different from your first two...
Thanks, Fred! It has been three years hasn't it? The time is flying by much too fast. Well, this new book is certainly a departure from the first two. The primary difference is that it is a vampire novel. Every Dark Desire begins with the human, Naomi and follows her transformation into Belle, a vampire and hedonist who initially resists what she has become because of her passionate ties to humanity. Eventually she grows to accept this new existence, but not before almost succumbing to dangers lurking for her in Jamaica. Despite this departure from my previous work, DESIRE does have in common with BLISS and SIN a healthy dose of the erotic.
2. You must be able to stay awake 24-hours a day, since you've written a book a year, started grad school, moved across country from Georgia to California, and still maintain a long-term relationship. Help us understand how you manage to have it all and do it all... what keeps you going?
One thing I need is my sleep, so staying up into the night and morning is not at all my cup of tea : ) Over the last year, I've certainly faltered and wondered if I was going to be able to do everything that I've set out to do. But with the help of my wonderful partner, McKenzie, and some incredibly supportive friends (aka second draft readers) this ride hasn't been too bad. Now, there's one more year to go in graduate school and then on to other challenges...
3. Can you talk a little about your writing techniques? When you sit down to write, where are you? What are you doing? Anything on in the background or outside your window? Do you set page goals?
One of the things that i've taught myself is to write almost anywhere. As long as it's reasonably quiet and I have a notebook and pen, then i'll jot down something relevant to one of the projects I'm currently working on. The ideal thing is for me to be in my office at home, writing from my desk that has a view of my overflowing bookshelf. The window is to my back because sometimes I get too easily distracted. Being able to write in most settings has done a lot for my productivity. When I'm waiting alone for someone/something, I just pull out my notebook and write until it would be impolite to continue. Other than those waiting times, I prefer to work in absolute silence with my door closed and my internet connection severed.
When I have a strict deadline, I try to set page goals. For instance, this summer I want to make some significant headway on my thesis, but I also have a book that's due in to the publisher around September.
4. I do too, Fiona. That September deadline is looming for me too :-)
And because of that, I've decided that I need to have a certain amount of page numbers written per week in order not to freak out when it's time to switch my focus from one project to the other. So far, so good.
5. So you're among the forefront of current black lesbian literature. How does that feel? How do readers feel you've represented the community or their lives? Is that how you want your work to be categorized?
That is absolutely sweet of you to say, although I disagree. I can think of at least three other black lesbians doing amazing work and getting the recognition that they deserve. Hearing about their successes and reading their stories inspire me to become better at this writing thing so I can some day step up to their level.
I've gotten some lovely emails from readers telling me how certain story lines resonated with them on one level or another, and that's been great. I don't think it's a matter of representation for these readers, it's more so seeing some part of themselves reflected in what's being put out by the publishing world. One of the reasons that I started on this path was the blatant lack of black lesbian stories out there. As for categorization, I think if you're not coming from or telling stories about the white mainstream, you'll be put in a box of some sort. I certainly don't want to be categorized/ghettoized at all, but it's a reality of where we live. Still, as long as my readers can find me, I'm ok with it. : ).
6. OK. So I'm going to ask you for a few of your favorites. Tell me your first response... so we can get to know you...
Favorite musician: Dinah Washington. I think her textured voice is one of the best things to close my eyes and relax into.
Favorite food: That's a hard one. Or maybe not. Rice. That's my favorite food. You can have it in so many ways. And when it's perfectly cooked - meaning firm and loose - it's a bit of heaven on the tongue.
Favorite political cause: There's no favorite, really. I believe in equal rights for all and support the various causes tied up in that, whether it's women's right to chose what to do with her their bodies or the freedom to marry movement.
Favorite shallow pasttime: Watching CSI when I should be working.
Favorite vacation spot: My back yard. And when the money is thick, la Isla de Mujeres.
Favorite book: Talk about a hard question! I love Jewelle Gomez's Don't Explain. And since you asked about "book" singular, i'll leave it at that.
7. Any final words or thoughts you want to share?
Let me take a moment to do a shameless plug: I'll be at A Different Light in West Hollywood on Thursday, September 13th signing and reading from the new book. That's it. Thanks to everyone who made the time to read all this. Have a pleasurable summer. The book hits the shelves June 26, although i think many stores will have it at least a week or so before that.
You can contact Fiona directly through her MySpace page.