Thursday, March 09, 2006

Valerie Wilson Wesley, Award Winning Writer, Visits the Crime Sistahs
(Interviewer: Gammy L. Singer)

This most prolific and multi-dimensional talented author crosses many genres and writes mysteries, adult fiction, and children's fiction as well as essays and short stories. She holds masters degrees in education and journalism. Her latest mystery is DYING IN THE DARK and her Tamara Hayle mystery series include WHEN DEATH COMES STEALING, DEVIL'S GONNA GET HIM, and THE DEVIL RIDING. Other novels include PLAYING MY MOTHER'S BLUES, ALWAYS TRUE TO YOU IN MY OWN FASHION, AIN'T NOBODY'S BUSINESS IF I DO. All of her novels have been Blackboard bestsellers. For a more complete list of her work and her many accomplishments check out her website at

Welcome to the Crime Sistahs blog, Valerie.
First of all, tell me how you do it--please! You not only write mysteries, but you write other novels and children's fiction as well. Are you a workaholic? What's your writing schedule like? And how do you come about your choices as what to write next?

I only work on one thing at a time. For example, I'm currently working on a new book for my Willimena Rules series for kids. After I've finished that, I'll begin a new Tamara Hayle Mystery that I'll get into next year. I try to write every day and feel guilty if I don't. I've found, however, if I skip a day the next day's writing comes easier.

You write bestseller books. How did that happen? Did you work very hard to become a bestseller? We've all heard Terry McMillan's story, for example. Were you as driven? Or did you have good backing from a good publisher?

I try to write the best book I can. I've been fortunate in that I had very good support from my publishers for my first few mysteries and novels. I also try to promotoe my books to readers as much as I can. I have a website, and I answer all emails. I still believe that a good book will find its market, so I try to write the very best book I can, no matter the genre I'm working in. I also believe that good word-of-mouth still is the best seller of a book.

Speaking of publishers, you've dealt with several. Is there a way to effectively deal with them? What works and what doesn't work? How about editors? Any insights or instructions to new writers about dealing with editors--the good, the bad, and the ugly?

It's important to remember that publishing is a business and its purpose is to make money. One of my roles as a writer is to be as professional as I can, which means getting the book in on time, and working with my editor as effectively as I can.

Your favorite book? Your favorite author?

I have many favorite books and authors. Among my favorite books--Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Atonement by Ian McKeown--favorite authros include Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, PD James, Tina McElroy Ansa, Bebe Moore Campbell--the list goes on!

When does writing become hard for you? When is it the easiest?

It's always hard to begin, but once I start it gets easier. The main thing is to settle down and write.

You have a writer-husband. Does he assist you at all? What are writing conversations like in the Wesley home? Did any of your children catch the fever?

My husband is a playwright and screenwriter. He's also a chairman of his department at NYU, which takes up most of his time. We support each other as much, and he tends to be my main cheering section. My daughter is a screenwriter, and a very good one.

I just read an op-ed piece in the New York Times titled, Their Eyes Were Watching Smut, the subject being the new ghetto or street lit. Any comments about this latest trend? Advice to writers?

I think it's essential that people read. When I was a kid, my favorite books were comic books--and I went on to mysteries and then finally to novels. My hope is that readers who are into the so-called "street lit" will discover and grow into better books as they become more sophisticated readers. The main thing is to develop and nurture new readers in a society that tends to discourage reading. I also think it's been a boon for Independent Black Bookstores.

How have you managed to juggle career and family? Has it become easier?

My children are grown now, and it's not a problem. When I was younger, I wrote at night after they were in bed.

Did you ever want to do anything else but write? What was your training for this profession?

Becoming a writer was always my goal--but I've been trained as a journalist as well as an early childhood teacher--maybe that's where the Willimena books come from.

What are you working on now? And what should we look for next?

I'm working on a new Willimena book as well as a new mystery. In the new Tamara Hayle, I'm bringing back Basil Dupre--as well as Lilah Love from Where Evil Sleeps, my third Tamara Hayle Mystery.

That concludes our visit with Valerie Wilson Wesley. You are invited to visit her website at or email the author at As she said, she answers her emails.


New York Times Feed

Design by Dzelque Blogger Templates 2008

The Crime Sistahs - Design by Dzelque Blogger Templates 2008