Featured Author Michele Andrea Bowen

Up at the College by Michele Andrea Bowen

Write a short story, 500 words or less, about your college days and enter a contest to win a free hard cover copy of Up at the College! Post your submissions on our Black Pearls blog and Ella Curry of EDC Creations will judge the stories and announce the two winners. Deadline July 15, 2009. Winners posted here on the Black Pearls Blog July 25, 2009. Only United States residents can enter the contest. Enter the contest by posting your stories below in the comments.

Ella Curry, the CEO of Black Pearls Magazine, sits down with author Michele Andrea Bowen to discuss her career and new book. Michele graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an M.A. in History and a M.P.H. in Public Health. She lives in Durham, North Carolina. For more information please visit http://www.micheleandreabowen.com

Ella: Michele, Tell us about your passion for writing.
I love writing funny stories, where readers laugh themselves all the way to an acknowledgement of the Lord. I am passionate about writing books that touch hearts and uplift. One of the nicest compliments I receive from my readers, is when they tell me that my stories make them laugh out loud. I am also very passionate about documenting everyday African American religious life and culture in a good story.

Ella: Where are you from? How did you start your writing journey?
St. Louis, Missouri is my home town. I started writing stories when I was a little girl. My buddy, Demetric "Meche" Follin lived across the street from me. I made her sit on my grandmother's steps and listen while I told her stories or made her read the handwritten ones. She was my first fan, and she is still one of my biggest fans and good friend.

Ella: I read in a previous interview that you have children. How do you balance being a mom in terms of your life as a writer? Does the rest of your life enhance your work as a published author, detract from it, or do these things barely factor in career-wise?
Being a mom forces me to balance my life and put everything, work, career, in the proper perspective. My children are proud of their mother. But as my oldest daughter said to her friends a few years ago..."My mommy writes novels, but she is always our mommy and she never forgets that. She makes sure we are okay and remembers what is important to us." My life's work does not detract from writing. Life for me is pretty down-home. It fuels my writing.

Ella: Introduce us to your new book Up at the College.
Up at the College (ISBN: 9780446577755) is about two main characters, Yvonne Fountain, who comes back home to get herself together after going through a ridiculous divorce with her children's father. She come home moaning and groaning about her fate, only to discover that God has a whole lot in store for her, if she only gets enough brain cells to even know that He is trying to get her attention. It is also about Coach Curtis Parker, who thinks he has this I'm a Man (think of the song by the blues singer, Muddy Waters) down pat.

He can not understand what all of this "God is the source and the strength of my life...He moves all pain, misery and strife" talk is about. It seems like to do that is to be weak, and certainly not man enough to command a team of basketball players at an historically black university. But as we used to say back in the day--"He thought like Caesar" right before the ill-fated monarch met up with a very disgruntled Marc Anthony. This book is a story of renewal, restoration, love, and finding your strength and joy in the Lord.

Ella: How does spirituality affect your writing life?
My spirituality affects my writing in all of the right ways. I always pray when I start working on my books and that includes when I start to edit work already written.

Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
I want readers to walk away with joy, less stressed because they laughed so hard, and some insight to what living a life where God is in control looks like.

Ella: Finish this sentence: I am Powerful because...
I seek the Lord with all of my heart, all of my mind and all of my soul, so that He blesses me with strength, courage, joy, and faith. One of my favorite scriptures is: "Oh Lord, what great miracles You do! And how deep are Your thoughts," Psalm 92: 5.

Ella: What is the most surprising thing you have learned in creating books?
Details about clothes, and how a character looks and speaks, how a house or neighborhood looks, and so forth are very important to my readers. It makes the story come to life for them.

Ella: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
Being blessed to start off as an unknown writer with a company like Grand Central Publishing, and then within a short period of time, have a recognizable name as an author.

Ella: What advice would you give a new writer?
Finish your manuscript, put it aside and then re-read and edit it some more before considering it a finished work.

Ella: Name 3 things that it takes to make a successful author, in your opinion?
Good writing skills, good research skills, and the ability to tell a good story.

Ella: What can we expect from you in the future?
More books and some teen stories. My kids are really pumped over that and have said that they will make sure the characters are 'crunked' and the stories are not 'lame.'

Ella: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.
I finished the manuscript for the sequel to Church Folk, More Church Folk. My new novel, "Up at the College," came out in the stores on April 14th...look for it. Check out the "Juicy Reads" Section in the April Issue of Essence Magazine!

Read an excerpt from the book by clicking here. Each book club showcased in our May edition of Black Pearls Magazine will receive copies of Up at the College, as part of this celebration! View all the book club presidents here.

Please join in the discussion by leaving comments or congrats below. If you are entering our writing contest, post your submissions below.