After leaving the corporate world, Jacqueline Luckett took a creative writing class on a dare, from herself, and began writing short stories and poetry and never looked back. Jacqueline is the author of two novels, Searching for Tina Turner and Passing Love. In a February 2012 review, People Magazine described Passing Love as “beautifully written and filled with vibrant scenes of Paris in its Jazz Age and today.”
Jacqueline lives in Oakland, but travels often to nurture her passion for photography and exotic foods. Her essay, “Traveling with Ghosts,” was included in Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011.
Passing Love by Jacqueline Luckett
Nicole-Marie Handy has loved all things French since she was a child. After the death of her best friend, determined to get out of her rut, she goes to Paris, leaving behind a marriage proposal. While there, Nicole chances upon an old photo of her father—lovingly inscribed, in his hand, to a woman Nicole has never heard of. What starts as a vacation quickly becomes an unexpected adventure.
Moving back and forth in time between the sparkling Paris of today and the jazz-fueled city filled with expatriates in the 1950s, PASSING LOVE is the story of two women dealing with lost love, secrets, and betrayal . . . and how the City of Light may hold all the answers. Order books here: http://amzn.to/VVgedy
BPM: Three artists on your playlist:
I listen to different playlists based on my mood and activity. When I’m exercising, I listen to Donna Summer’s Greatest Hits. MacArthur Park is my favorite song. I love how it starts off slow and builds to a wonderful fast pace—it’s good walking music. While writing Passing Love, I listened to two artists: Edith Piaf, the Little Sparrow, is a French entertainment icon.
Her music was part of the French culture that Ruby became so involved in. Listening to her music kept me close to the feeling of being in Paris. Nina Simone (who’s also on my playlist!) and many other artists recorded one of Piaf’s well-known songs, “Non, je ne regrette rien” (“No, I don’t regret anything”), and come to think of it, that’s Ruby’s philosophy. When writing Ruby’s lover Arnett (who played the saxophone), I wanted my words to have the rhythm, passion, and intensity of the saxophone. Coltrane’s Ballads and John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman were great inspirations.
BPM: Who does your work speak to?
I write books with universal appeal—both in story and character. Personally, I'll follow a story with characters that make me think or look at the world differently than I do. That's what I’ve tried to accomplish in my stories. In Passing Love and Searching for Tina Turner, the main characters could be you, your best friend, the lady in line next to you at the video store, or the mother of your child's classmate. I write about women, of a “certain age,” who've had failures and successes in their lives and are looking to create change. The stories I tell are ultimately about victory and overcoming fear.
BPM: You are humbled by:
I find that I’m humbled by my readers’ praise, loyalty, and genuine support. It never ceases to amaze me. I don’t think of myself as a star, but my readers make me feel that way. They let me know that writing is well the time and effort I put into it. Traveling across the country and reading in front of audiences is a thrilling experience. To see, to realize that the people gathered in front of me are in the bookstore or auditorium or someone’s home to see and hear me is an amazing and humbling experience.
BPM: Your fondest childhood/college memory:
As a teenager, I was the official babysitter and storyteller for my younger cousins. I loved a good story (still do). “Bloody Bones,” is the only one I remember telling. It was the tale of a boy hounded by a ghoul. With the lights out, covers over our heads, and the glow of a single flashlight, I told the story, complete with sound effects. “Bloody Bones, I’m on the first step.” Bam! I’d stomp my foot on the floor. The more stairs the ghoul climbed, the harder I stomped. The more my cousins winced, the more dramatic I became, the more grisly details I added. Of course, we laughed after the story ended. I never let them know how, in telling the story, I’d frightened myself.
BPM: What you know for sure:
I know that even with the best planning, tomorrow is uncertain. So I, we, must make the best of today.
BPM: Will the printed book ever become obsolete:
I hope not. “Fahrenheit 451” comes to mind when I think of a world without printed books. In that movie, books were outlawed and burned. To me, that’s such a grievous crime. In some ways, I feel the same about the possibility of the printed book becoming obsolete. That would be a crime. I’ve loved books since I was a young girl. The sight of them stacked in the library, on my shelves, beside my bed; their musty smell is still exciting to me. I love the physicality of books. The ability to flip between the pages, to touch, mark, or highlight words and pictures; dog-eared pages, notes to myself, cracking the spine so that a book lies flat. I haven’t quite gotten used to reading books on my e-reader yet, but, I find navigating through magazines much easier (though, I’m still trying to figure out how to save pages without scrolling through an entire periodical).
Recently, at a friend’s birthday party, a mother handed her iPhone to her 2-year old to keep the child occupied while the adults celebrated. The little girl took the phone and found the games that she wanted to play without instruction. Her astonishing ease with the iPhone brought home the reality that her generation lives more fully in the virtual world than mine. It made me understand that just as our grandparents couldn’t fathom the transition from oversized radio to transistor (forget MP3 players), couldn’t fathom a car exceeding 50 MPH, couldn’t fathom man walking on the moon—all of these events, these possibilities evolved.
It’s the rapid evolution, and because we’re right in the middle of such a profound shift, that makes it difficult to imagine a world without printed materials. No stacks to line our shelves, no magazines to fill out baskets and nightstands. Books could very well become collector’s items, not simply rare books, but any book. So, in some world off in the distance, the way we access stories and information will change. We’re seeing that now. Perhaps what’s more important, is that people continue to read—no matter what the medium.
BPM: If you weren't a writer, you would be:
I’ve always been practical. When it came to thinking of careers, I focused on those that earned a good living and provided stability. I’ve wanted to be a journalist, a model, an actress, a CEO. I spent my career as a businesswoman in corporate America. It took me a long time to get back to the writing I loved as a child. I’m happy and pleased to be where I am.
At this point in my life, I like to dream about what I could be with an eye toward the frivolous or shocking—both with possibilities that challenge and dare. I like to believe what I write—that it’s never too late to change.
In my dreams, I walk onto a stage and into a cone of light. Musicians are behind me. Perhaps a full orchestra. I can only hear, not see them. The music plays, softly at first. I listen, waiting for my cue. I start to sing. My voice is strong and steady. It’s like fine chocolate and good wine. I hear my voice reverberating off the walls and the finely-tuned sound system. I belt out one song, and one song only. The audience goes wild. And then ... I wake up wishing I could sing and make an audience scream for more like Streisand or Tina Turner or Beyonce. No such luck.
Yes, that’s my dream. I’d love to be a singer. My mother and her sisters are somewhat musical. They have nice voices and sang in warbled soprano tones at nearly every family gathering—though none of them ever pursued a singing career. I inherited a bit of that musical ability, enough to sound pleasant, but I was always too shy to pursue it.
There are the times that I try to fulfill my dream, and I pretend to be on stage, the music booming behind me. I sing my heart out knowing good and well that I am (and will always be) my own, and only, audience. That done, I return to my computer, and write.
BPM: Advice you would give a new author:
I’ll boil my advice down to one “do” and one “don’t.” Both, I believe, are important.
Do learn as much as you can about the publishing industry. Try to develop relationships and form networks with experienced authors. Don’t worry about how much money you think you’ll make or how well your book will do. Just write: for the love of words, the love of story, and to honor your gift.