Today I am pleased to welcome Jacqueline E. Luckett, author of the newly released Searching for Tina Turner to Psychotic State. Welcome, Jacqueline!
Writing Strong African American Characters by Jacqueline E. Luckett
Searching for Tina Turner is the story of Lena Harrison Spencer, a woman who seems to have it all, and yet cannot find a happy medium between who she is and what she has. Tina Turner’s strength inspires Lena to move forward with her journey to reinvent self and start all over again. It’s a universal story with a few interesting twists and turns. It’s that across-the-board connection that I hope will endear Lena to readers.
Writing about forceful African American characters is easy. (Getting people to read about them is often another matter.) How African American writers develop goals and dreams, how we give insight into their lives and perceptions of the world, how we portray them facing and surviving challenges is the essence of the stories we write.
Readers shouldn’t be surprised to find strong characters in novels written by African American authors. Nor should they be surprised to find weak, gullible or even detestable characters—such is the nature of the world; such is the nature of fiction. Strong African American women are everywhere: in fiction and real life. These women don’t have to be famous for any of us to view them as role models. They are mothers, daughters, neighbors, and coworkers. They clean hotel rooms, fight battles in courtrooms, scan luggage at the airport, live in big houses, or represent constituents in Congress.
Lena is a determined woman (she’s forgotten this, but gets back to it), who happens to be African American. Her spirit and her story transcend economics, sometimes age and more importantly, race. Women like Lena come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors. She offers yet another side of African American women, and, hopefully, dispels stereotypes about diversity within our community.
Before Lena found the book, I Tina, she was already on the verge of change. The serendipity of her discovery triggered her to do something about it. Because Tina Turner’s talent and fame are so amazing, and her music so fabulous, some may not think of her as an icon for strength. I’m, not sure if I did before I read I, Tina. People forget what she went through mentally (and physically, too). No matter when her light bulb moment came, it came. She left her marriage with her name and the belief that she could make it on her own. It’s that strength that inspires Lena.
Enjoy the read!
* * * * *
Thank you, Jacqueline for stopping by my blog today and thank you for a terrific read in Searching for Tina Turner.
As a teenager, Jacqueline enjoyed telling stories to her younger cousins. To this day, they describe her as a master storyteller. So, it wasn't a surprise to her family when she began writing a novel. She kept diaries, wrote poetry and had stories published in a local newspaper. But Jacqueline put writing aside while attending college. After graduating from California State University, Hayward in sociology, she worked in sales for a major corporation. She married, raised a family and in 1999 took a creative writing class on a dare, from herself, and happily found her love of writing re-ignited.
By a lucky coincidence, that same year she discovered the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) writing workshops and participated over the next four years in workshops with Christina Garcia, Danzy Senna, Junot Diaz, Ruth Forman and Terry McMillan. VONA provided a safe haven for a new writer still unsure of her abilities, yet eager to learn. She attributes much of her growth as a writer to the VONA workshops.
In 2004, Jacqueline formed the Finish Party (featured in O Magazine, October 2007) along with seven other women writers-of-color. The Finish Party meets monthly to workshop their projects-in-progress. Jacqueline calls these outstanding women her mentors and advisors, her friends and the toughest (and most loving) readers around. The group provides strong support for each other's writing, good meals, friendship and fun.
Jacqueline describes herself as an avid reader and lover of books, excellent cook, aspiring photographer (all the photos on this site were taken by Jacqueline) and world traveler. She lives in Northern California and, though she loves that city and all of the friends she has there, she takes frequent breaks to fly off to foreign destinations.
Searching for Tina Turner, her first novel, was published by Grand Central Publishing in January 2010 — and, as you can imagine, she is thrilled!
For more information on Jacqueline E. Luckett, visit her website here. To read my review of Searching for Tina Turner, go here.