Intimate Conversation with Victoria Christopher Murray
Victoria Christopher Murray is the Essence bestselling author of more than twenty novels including: The Ex Files, Lady Jasmine, and The Deal, the Dance, and the Devil. Winner of the African American Literary Award for Fiction and Author of the Year (Female), Murray is also a two-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Fiction. She splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton University where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.
Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being a pioneer in African American Fiction. Since 2007, Victoria has won six African American Literary Awards for best novel, best Christian fiction and Author of the Year - Female. Her 2013 NAACP Image Award nomination for Destiny's Divas was her second Image Award nomination.
In 2008, Victoria’s first novels in her Christian fiction teen series - The Divine Divas – were published and were optioned to become a television series. She is currently in negotiations for her novel, The Ex Files, to become a movie. With over one million books in print, Victoria is one of the country's top African American contemporary authors.
BPM: What motivated you to sit down and actually start writing Forever an Ex? Why now?
That's an interesting question because you would probably be surprised to know that I don't particularly enjoy writing sequels. I love the freshness of new characters and so sequels just aren't my thing. Now, I'm saying this after having five sequels with my character, Jasmine, and now this, Forever an Ex which is the sequel to the Ex Files.
The idea to write this book first came to me when the Ex Files was optioned to become a movie. The producer asked for more content because he liked the characters so much and hoped to be able to turn their stories into a television series. So, I had to go back and talk to these ladies again. And actually, I was glad to hear what "they" had to say.
BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?
I'm sure it does. I would like to believe that everything I write comes from my imagination, but people tend to write what they know. So a good many of my characters live the kind of life I've lived. Most of my stories take place in Los Angeles or New York, the two cities where I've spent most of my life. And most of the women are professional women who have college and maybe even graduate degrees.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven?
My books are definitely character driven and that is by choice. I used to take lots of writing classes at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival program and that is such a good school, a bit "high-brow," if you will. It was there that I learned that most literary fiction was character driven and most commercial fiction was plot driven. So, I decided then that I wanted to be more of a character driven author. Now, don't get me wrong -- I know that I'm not writing the next GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. Nor do my books rival any of the great contemporary literary novelists. But, I do put as much of a focus on the characters as I possibly can.
I don't have any challenges coming up with ideas. Not at all. I think every idea for every book that I have written and will write in my lifetime was already inside of me when I was born. That's the gift that I've been given. God gave me the gift to write, and that included the ideas to put down on paper.
BPM: Introduce us to your current work, Forever an Ex. We are always seeking to place the right book, with the right reader, what genre do you consider your book?
Ugh! I almost hate that word -- genre. I think a truly creative person can't (and shouldn't) be boxed into any category. If you go with your creative flow, one novel may be more suspense, the other may be more romance. But if I had to put myself into a box, I would be inside Christian fiction.
It's important to note, though that I don't write to genre rules. So many who read my novels are surprised that my characters are really flawed and they're just trying to work it out. I haven't written a perfect character yet because I believe there was only one perfect person to walk this earth -- and they already wrote HIS story...
BPM: Give us an insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Well, Sheridan is the character where this story all began. After seventeen years of what she thought was a loving marriage, her husband told her that he'd fallen in love with a man. Of course, devastation doesn't begin to describe how she feels, but she's pulled her life back together and now seven years later, she's set. But her ex is back -- with a fiancee. Sheridan is shocked to find out that her ex husband is about to marry a woman...isn't he gay? But what complicates this is that her ex's fiancee has some questions for Sheridan....
Kendall has been living a life filled with bitterness since she found her husband in bed with her sister. She excommunicated them from her life, but now that her father has been diagnosed with cancer, Kendall finds herself back in touch with her sister and her ex -- who are now married and expecting a baby. But then a man enters Kendall's life and she finds herself and her inability to forgive being tested in ways she never thought....
Asia really needs to grow up, but though eight years have passed since her ex left her to go back to his wife, Asia finds herself longing to have him back in her life. She puts together a plan to get him back -- this time permanently. But the plan may come at a high cost, and Asia finds herself having to choose between her man and her daughter.