New from Simon & Schuster

Author Revealed

Revealing Questions

Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

A. Jamaican-born woman, activist, writer, performer, New Yorker.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?

A. If we do not speak, who will?

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?

A. A good book- or a good episode of Law & Order, or a good, sad movie. A cold night. Hot tea- maybe a glass of red wine. Someone who is comfortable with both silence and noise. Repeat throughout my life.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?

A. Being left; it doesn't get better as I age. Being left sucks.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

A. At home, with a little person who calls me mummy.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?

A. A long list of women who have struggled with issues of race, sex, class; Zora Neale Hurston, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Nanny of the Maroons, Virginia Woolfe, Nina Simone...the list is endless.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

A. Too many to list. Alice Walker. Dorothy Allison. Frances Goldin. Bell Hooks.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?

A. Negotiate. Navigate. Notion. With particiular reference to...

Q. What do you regret most?

A. I regret moments where I have been unkind to people. I try to go back and apologize for those moments when I can.

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

A. To see into hearts.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?

A. Remaining sane.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?

A. I can be inflexible if I think I am right- which may be too often.

Q. What’s your best quality?

A. I am forgiving- and quick to apologize.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

A. A well written book.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?

A. I'm argumentative.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

A. Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter...

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?

A. Voldemort

Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

A. I would ask Harriet Tubman how she managed to keep going- no matter the black-out spells, the dogs they sent, the unwilling and frightened slaves- she kept going. I would want to know how she stayed on course.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?

A. Food garbage in my bedroom or office garbage can.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

A. Playing scrabble. I can do that for hours.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?

A. For brief moments I wonder what it would be like to be a waitress on a highway restaurant. I would love the cast of characters I might meet on an average day.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

A. Loyalty, honesty, and kindness.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

A. Sushi.

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?

A. Hmmm. Too many to list. I like angsty, radical women like Ani Difranco, and Tracy Chapman. I like vulnerable boys singers like John Mayer, Peter Cetera and Prince. I like boy bands like Collective Soul, and Smashing Pumpkins. I like risky passionate singers like Tina Turner and Nina Simone.

Q. How did you come to write The Other Side of Paradise?

A. Apart from the obvious rags to riches story(abandoned by both parents, left with my poor, deaf grandmother in a Third World Country with a history of violent homophobia, coming out as a lesbian, and having to finally flee that country) I began my writing/performing career with autobiographical material. I gained some notoriety through being an activist: I was a poet on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, then I was co-writer and original performer in the Broadway Show Def Poetry Jam, Then I did three or four one-woman shows downtown Manhattan. I was approached by a few agents and editors about writing a memoir. I declined the offers, but began penning some episodes- fleshing out the stories referenced in the poems and the theater peices. By the time I met and signed with my agent, Frances Goldin, I was ready to meet an editor who would help me craft the odd, disconnected memories into a book. Alexis Gargaliano, who knew my work from my performance poetry, seemed a good match. I liked her immediately. The book we have now is the product of a journey we took together; it wasn't always smooth sailing, but it was never boring. Her insight and her ability to see beyond badly written pages made it possible for me to contine writing after my grandmother passed, and relationship after relationship ended- Under her encouraging gaze I discovered that I was able to tell my most personal stories without dying.

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