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Audio Book Preview: The Journey
Author/Speaker: Niama Leslie Williams
Book: The Journey and Beloved (Readings)Listen here.
What does it mean to be young, Black, female, intelligent, gifted with second sight, on your way to a Ph.D. and in love for the first time? The Journey (ISBN-10: 1435726766) presents us with exactly this young woman. The pivotal question becomes is she sane and he deceitful, or has she lost her mind? The answer is both. Not an easy, cohesive ride, the narrative thread of an African American female mystic falling deeply in love with a white psychiatrist is complicated by a gently suggested history of abuse, graduate school, and the subtle racism of still largely white academia. The Journey strokes the American psyche from within a very personal story of love and vision: she is in love; he is not, but he leads her in a merry dance, never quite revealing what emotion lies behind his warm brown eyes.
Intimate Conversation with Dr. Niama L. Williams
Dr. Niama L. Williams is a poet, novelist, essayist, memoirist and former adjunct professor of English with a Leeway Foundation grant, inclusion in an NAACP Image award nominated anthology (Check the Rhyme), and participation in a Sable Magazine/Arvon Foundation writing workshop in the United Kingdom under her belt. She is available for comment at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Tell us what motivated you to write this book.
Initially,I wanted to be heard. I am a survivor of childhood sexual trauma, physical abuse, and neglect. I wanted to be heard, to be validated, because no one from my previous life treated my experience as though it was real, true, or of any importance.
Secondly, and this motivation holds true still, I wanted others to hear me in hopes that they could save themselves. I hope that someone reads my books and says, wow, I feel that way too; maybe I'm not strange, weird, crazy, insane, sick ..... I hope that someone reads my books and learns a way out of the cell, the self-imposed prisons we can construct when we are survivors ..... I hope that someone reads my books and is able to avoid a pain-causing event or person or circumstance ..... I share my experience in the hope that doing so can prevent pain!
* Who did you write this book for?
Survivors. Dreamers. Artists. Ordinary Joes and Janes and Tanishas and Jamals.
* Bring your 3 main characters to life. Tell us who they are and what you love about them.
I love Sara because she is so conflicted about everything. She reminds me of my favorite poet, Toi Derricotte, about whom I wrote my dissertation. Toi confesses everything and is unafraid to tell a truth that might not be flattering--about herself or someone else. Sara has that same ability to take you in deeper than you really might want to go, and yet still bring you out safely.
The doctor, Jim, is my favorite in the same way that Mister from the Color Purple is Alice Walker's favorite. Auntie Alice (because she has written so close to the bone that I can say I adore and revere her though I have only been n her presence twice) writes that she loves Mister most because he changes the most radically of all the characters in the novel. Jim is my favorite because of the constant maelstrom of changes he precipitates in Sara all the way through Detective Fiction and even into the coming book, Ruby. He is this consistent force of love, confusion, intoxication that keeps sending her back to her faith time and time again.
Vincent I adore not just because he is based on the wonderfully talented Vincent D'Onofrio, unduly unawarded should have had an Oscar decades ago actor. Vincent, of all the spirits occupying Sara's psychic space, is the only one willing to challenge Jim. He is the only one, other than N-E, who knows the toll Jim's enigmatic qualities are exacting from Sara and fights both Jim and Sara about her inability to resist them.
* Where are you from? What is your favorite book, music, movie, play?
Oh God. You had to ask. Okay: favorite novels: The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara. Damballah by John Edgar Wideman. The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus. Favorite books of poetry? Postcards from August by Kate Braverman. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot.
Music? I would not have survived high school, I would not survive life, without Barry Manilow. Manilow gets me through when I am down, down, down, and up is looking impossible. There's also Billy Joel (I've got this thing about piano players ....), Elton John, Sting, James Taylor, Barbra Streisand, STEVIE WONDER, Michael Jackson, Kenny Loggins, Maroon 5, RASCAL FLATTS, Garth Brooks, Kris Kristofferson's one lone country album, Aretha Franklin (early work), Oleta Adams, Neil Diamond, I could go on .....
Favorite movies: The Prince of Tides (first DVD I ever bought), Nuts, Yentl, Field of Dreams, The Wide Wide World, What Dreams May Come, Good Will Hunting, Proof with Gwyneth Paltrow.
Play? I took my mother, for Mother's Day or her birthday, I can't remember, to see Christopher Reeve in Summer and Smoke and we had front row seats ...... I've never forgotten that day ..........
* How do you spend your free time? Do you write poetry or sing?
I have this dream of doing a private thank you concert for the musicians who saved my life with their music: Sting, Billy Joel, Manilow .... I have a lilting voice, I am told, but I have no professional training. One day I'll get the professional training.
I have recently discovered the ability to sketch, a talent I didn't think I had, and I find it very relaxing and freeing. Primarily because I don't have to be good at it, I can fail, be mediocre and still enjoy myself. I push myself so hard everywhere else, but with the sketching no one has to teach me, it's just me expressing and I like that. No standards to live up to. Every artist should have one thing they do just for themselves. Perhaps like Vincent's blues guitar.
* What is your process for creating a novel? Do you plot out the story or do the characters speak to you?
I am rambling Rosie, letting the words come and fall as they may. It makes me difficult to understand sometimes, but most people enjoy the entire experience.
* Could you image your life without writing today?
No. No way. I'd be insane. Debilitated.
* Do you feel writing is for those trained to write or for anyone who has a story to tell?
Writing is for those that need it.
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