Free Author Interview: Davida Adedjouma

Author Name:  Davida Adedjouma
Where can we find your book?  You can find The Dirty Side of Midnight at Amazon Books (where you can “Search Inside This Book” and read quite a bit of it which will help you decide whether or not to purchase it), Barnes and Noble and
How much does it cost? On Amazon the paperback is $19.99 and the Kindle edition is $9.99.  On Barnes and Noble the paperback is $19.99.  And on the hardcover is $29.99, the paperback is $19.99 and the eBook is $9.99.
Tell us a little about your book.  The Dirty Side of Midnight is my second collection of short stories.  This time out I have blended short and short short stories, one of which was a finalist in the Glimmer Train short short story competition, to form two storylines, giving the collection the feel of a nonlinear novel.  The stories center around the lives of audacious black women throughout their adventures in the deep South, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, and finally, France.  The women are sensual, smart and sexy, and overcome the dramas that are their lives.  The dramas include the legacy of slavery, marital discordances, familial traumas, and finally their relationships with both men and women.  The Dirty Side of Midnight is not for the faint of heart; the subjections are hard-hitting, written using a magnifying glass.
How did you create your characters?  Most of my work is fictionalized autobiography or I write composites of people I love and people I love to hate.  I learned with my first book that my friends and family all thought I was writing about them anyway, so I got the idea to blend bits and pieces of them into my work.  On the copyright page of The Dirty Side of Midnight I wrote that the locations in the book were “real” to give those places character status so they could be bounced off the women in the stories.  I tend to find myself in the most incredibly dangerous situations, and I use them in my writing.  All is grist for the mill.
What time of day do you write best?  I write between 11:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. 
Do you have any upcoming projects?  I need to go into a second printing of my poetry chapbook, The Barbie Chronicles:  Revisited.  I only have a few copies left, and I wasn’t going to spend the money to have the poems professionally printed, but the book was such a hit that when I get the money together, and get an e-commerce website up and running, I think I’ll reprint, probably with Xlibris, if I catch another sale like I did with The Dirty Side of Midnight so that I get all the benefits such as an ISBN number, listings in Amazon Books and Barnes and, Books in Print, and the delight of working with such nice, informative people.  I’m also finishing a full poetry collection about the tarot tentatively titled, The Seeker Seeks, which I plan to enter in some poetry contests and see what happens.
What has your journey as a writer been like?  I’ve had a whirlwind journey as a writer.  My first short story was published when I was in fourth grade.  It was about a bank robbery in a small town, and a ballerina found the stolen money on the night of her first dance recital when she spun on her toes and fell through a plank in the stage, exposing the money and the robbers were in the audience. Whew! 
I then co-wrote my 8th grade graduation play (I’ve been commissioned to write three children’s musicals as an adult and all three were produced).  In high school and college I mostly wrote poetry.  In 1987, I entered the Minnesota Voices Project Competition and was one of the fiction winners, and the first African American winner.  The following year my collection of short fiction, Last Summer, was published by the sponsor of the contest, New Rivers Press, to excellent reviews by Publishers’ Weekly and the Black Review of Books, among others (you can still find used copies of Last Summer under my maiden name, Davida Kilgore, on Amazon Books). 
My children’s book, The Palm of My Heart:  Poetry by African American Children, published by Lee & Low Books, was written by poets between the ages of 5 and 13 that I’d taught in two after-school programs.  The book went on to win numerous awards for children’s publications and gave me a small following of readers for both my books.  I also have had individual poems published in journals but when it comes to winning writing competitions I’m beginning to feel like:  always a bride’s maid, never a bride!  My agent proved to be of no help at all:  I’ve always  sold all of my work myself.  So self-publishing is going to be in my future for quite a while.
Why did you choose to self publish?  I decided to self publish because I felt I had something urgent to say in those stories to many women who I know are going through certain agonies to show them that 1.) so are other women so they’re not alone, 2.) that there are ways of resolving the situation and 3.) that there are ways to work through the pain and come out on the other side.  I wanted to show that black women no longer have to struggle in silence.
What struggles have you overcome as a writer?  We’re all unique writers but the one thing that makes me special is the fact that I am, for the most part, living successfully with Bipolar I Disorder.  I wrote my last two books in two months while working full-time and going to school full-time (I’m a Ph.D. candidate in Health Psychology).  I was extremely manic and thankfully the work made complete sense this time – I have written while I was manic and the work came out something like Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shinning when he kept typing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” 
I can usually sense when I’m going to have a manic or depressive episode and try to guard myself accordingly, although I write obsessively either way (it’s harder when I’m depressed).  I’ve been quoted as saying that I write to stay alive, and I do, because as long as I can find the words, I can exist.  As long as I can have something to say that will help illuminate salvation for a reader, I feel successful, and that I am on top of my disorder, it’s not on top of me.
Would you do it again?  Yes, definitely!  It’s the best investment I’ve made in myself since purchasing a food subscription to NutriSystem.
Please share some advice to help future authors.  The best advice I can give to future authors is to have something to say, say it as honestly and plainly as possible and stand by your words.  The published book will come, whether you get your work accepted by a publisher or you publish it yourself.
Writing Sample from The Dirty Side of Midnight (the story is all in lower case).
winona, in the hearse
we slid into the hearse and rode off to see north by northwest in wisconsin at one of the largest indoor movie screen theaters in the country.  it was 50 below zero without the wind-chill, so cold that once inside the theater we stayed bundled up in our coats and hats and gloves, our breath visible on a trajectory toward the projector beam, the butter congealing on our popcorn.  when cary came running toward us we could see the thin hairs inside his nostrils, and count his pores, this long before the advent of hdtv.  we could feel the breeze from the propellers of that plane as it barreled through the field toward us.
it was eric and tina and wilbur and thomas and i, the five of us drinking cheap wine and expensive bourbon, none of us the designated driver.  there were roaches in the hearse, too, colombian, the good stuff.  a little down the highway we pulled into a gas station, literally pushed our way in because the black death cruiser wouldn’t start and no one stops to jump a hearse on a night cold as a mortician’s hands with a pale ghost driving and a big bundled black woman, a seeker, who had no business, sitting in the front seat next to him.
we push and pulled that hearse into the gas station, retrieved the jumper cables from the trunk and looked as pathetic as we could until the owner condescended to hook us up to his generator.  looking a sight, we asked if there was a local bar where we could hang out for the evening.  he pointed down the road, said “a piece” and we found the hole in the wall in the side of a mountain where peanut shells scrunched beneath our feet, and an old red coca cola sign hung between ladies and gents.  everyone looked inbred, most of the men had beards, most of the women had beehives.  but it was warm inside and there was a pool table. 
eric left the hearse running so the battery could charge and we shot a few games,
drank a few beers, got slightly more drunk.  a woman with a bob summoned up the nerve to ask me what i was doing riding around in a hearse and i informed her that i was a seeker and wasn’t afraid of haints.  she didn’t get the joke and i didn’t elaborate. 
eric was always a little depressed and now he seemed even more so.  even in the darkness of the bar one could see the downcast reddened eyes, the droop at the corners of the mouth, the prematurely graying hair.  eric:  who rode around in a long black hearse that fit so appropriately with his passion for the attic in the dorm where we all used to hang out and read interview with the vampire aloud. we’d bite each other on the neck leaving purplish hickeys but no ascertainable loss of blood.  poor eric had lived in winona all his life, driven the second-hand hearse for years without anyone questioning his sanity, his insanity.  poor eric, we didn’t know him well even though we all hung out every day of my writer-in-residency stint.  poor eric later shot himself through the roof of his mouth in a declaration of independence. 
before eric’s suicide tina loved tori amos.  she, tina that is, could be seen walking around campus singing, god sometimes you just don’t come through, do you need a woman to look after you?  i thought tori was sacrilegious but had a point.  who did look after god since so many of us who claimed to love him couldn’t prove it by their actions:  do it unto others before they stick it to you.  tina was a freshman, academically wet behind the ears but artistically brilliant.  she would make custom-designed postcards by cutting pictures out of old magazines creating and collages on oblong-cut pieces of white cardboard.  on the blank side of the collage she wrote the authentic postcards from the edge.  tina was an old soul, a student of the ‘60s and 70s, her flower power enhanced by a toke now and again.  it was tina who introduced us to lestat and we argued whether a younger rudger hauer could have played him in the movie. 
wilbur was closeted, bless his heart. we tried to help him open the door but he was afraid of his parents’ wrath and his girlfriend’s sorrow.  wilbur looked like mark lester in oliver, angelic as an arch angel, like michael before and after his fall.  wilbur spoke in hushed tones that women mistook for seductiveness, but really he was shy.
thomas was just plain crazy, lazy, and shady.  there has to be a petty criminal in every lot.  thomas, nicknamed tee, was one of the few blacks who attended winona state.  of course he balled, and dated white girls.  thomas hung out because between the five of us we had a boss collection of albums, eric had an old console, and thomas loved music, any kind of music, sweet, sweet, music.
and me, i was the writer, the seeker, the recorder of our lives when i wasn’t working on the revision of my first novel, the one that never sold even though i showed such promise.  but i would use tina and wilbur and tee as characters in a published short story, not sure that i ever appreciated their individuality.
so the five of us spent autumn cruising around winona in a hearse trying to avoid potholes.  eric let me drive it once and one time only since i found it hard to make left turns onto one-way streets.

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