Intimate Conversation with author Cheryl Robinson
Cheryl Robinson is the author of five novels. Most recently, When I Get Where I’m Going, In Love with a Younger Man and Sweet Georgia Brown. She is a native Detroiter and graduate of Wayne State University. Robinson now resides in Central Florida where she is writing her next novel.
BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer?
As a person I feel power in my faith. It allows me to press on through the rough times and to remain positive. I try not to let the daily stresses of life get to me. And I try not to judge others. The more I stop myself when I feel my mind going in that direction, the easier it becomes. I get tired of seeing people get built up by the media to later get knocked down. The less I judge others the better I not only feel, but also when I write and develop characters it’s much easier for me to remove myself from the situation. I realize it’s impossible for everyone to love my books, but I always keep that as one of my primary writing goals. And, I try to keep a healthy balance between being my own worst critic and one of my biggest fans.
BPM: Where do you find your inspiration? All of the inspiration I could ever need I can find from everyday life–the joys and the pitfalls. I can open one email from someone telling me how upset they are at the way I ended my last book and then turn around and open another email from someone telling me how much they thoroughly enjoyed it. That’s an example of how life is in general. One minute you can be down, but in a second it can all turn around. You have to take the good with the bad and learn from them both. But honestly, sometimes I just want it to all be good.
BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write your book?
Some years ago, when I was about nineteen or twenty, I answered the phone at my parents’ home and there was a woman on the other end who insisted that we were related. She was trying to tell me that she was my half sister and that we had the same father. I remember my heart sinking. In order for that to be true, based on her timeframe, that would mean my father, who I thought had been happily married to my mother for years, had cheated. But as the conversation continued we both realized that while the two men shared the same name they weren’t the same person.
Still, for those few minutes, I had to ask myself what if that was actually the case. The thought never completely escaped my mind, and in some ways it was that event that prompted me to eventually get around to exploring the scenario. And now, in the age of social networking, it’s much easier to find your missing relatives. And in the case of these three sisters, it’s also true, and they do share the same father.
BPM: Who do you want to reach with When I Get Where I’m Going and the message within?
I am a Women’s Fiction author. That does not mean I only write for women. Nor does the fact that I’m black mean I only write for black people. I don’t write to exclude any one, but to enlighten and entertain us all. I write about women and women’s issues, and of course, men are in my novels too. As an author I have an opportunity to go beyond stereotypes. I’ve learned over the eight years that I’ve been writing professionally that there is a way to entertain without offending.
If I, as a black woman, do not feel good about how we are represented in the media. If I don’t feel empowered about what is being written about us on the internet and elsewhere and if I have to continuously hear from the media that black women are “the least desirable of all the races” or not a preference by some men even within our own race, as an artist, I have an opportunity to present a different message that isn’t a negative one, but can still be realistic. It’s like music. Some songs only have a good beat while others also have wonderful lyrics. I want to write books that make people feel good.
My intended message isn’t given to readers, but written in such a way that the reader gets out of it what they came to the story with and how they view the story and the characters will be interpreted by how they view the world. But maybe, if I do my job as I intend to, they will have a different opinion after it’s all said and done.
BPM: Introduce us to your latest book, When I Get Where I’m Going.
What would you do if you discovered that you had a sibling you never knew existed? Would you be like Heaven, so excited to connect to that person that you quickly took to Facebook and started searching? Would you be like Hope, too caught up in the trials and tribulations of your own life to even care? Or would you be like Alicia, skeptical at first, but willing to open up to the idea?
Alicia, Hope, and Heaven are three estranged sisters embarking on one special reunion. And it will take an earth-shattering discovery, a lucky lottery ticket, and a near-fatal encounter to finally bring three sisters together and have them realize that nothing can save a person like family.
BPM: Introduce us to your main characters in When I Get Where I’m Going. Heaven Jetter, Hope Teasdale, and Alicia Day are three special sisters! Heaven is twenty-one and the youngest sister. She’s on probation, caught up in an abusive relationship, and trying desperately to get her life back on track. Hope is a young widow and single mother searching for the truth behind her husband’s death, but once she finds out, can she handle it? Alicia is a struggling actress trying to catch a break in Hollywood after thirteen years of trying, but a devastating one-two punch forces her back to Detroit.
BPM: What are two major events taking place? The novel is written in third person and begins with a prologue that occurs five months prior to the start of the story. And then the rest of the novel is divided into three parts and most of the chapters alternate between the point of view of each sister. Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that each sister has a major turning point that makes each of them reevaluate their life.
BPM: What are a couple of the specific issues or problems addressed in this book? One issue in the story is domestic abuse. Heaven is involved in an unhealthy relationship, but like so many other women involved in something like that, she finds it nearly impossible to leave. Her story isn’t from the viewpoint of a woman who is both a wife and mother and being abused, but from a young woman who has gotten caught-up with the wrong man and finds herself so confused that she doesn’t know what to do and feels that her life in general is spiraling out of control.
Alicia Day’s character was written for anyone who has been holding on to a dream for a very long time and wondering if it will ever come true. Aspiring actors, singers, and writers should be able to especially relate to her story. Black actresses, in particular, should also be able to as much has been discussed about the struggles that black women experience while trying to succeed in Hollywood.
Discussion Topics: When I Get Where I’m Going Domestic violence, sisterhood, estranged family, the entertainment industry, and specifically the lack of roles for black women in Hollywood.
BPM: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.When I Get Where I’m Going is featured in the September issue of Essence Magazine. And I recently completed my next novel, Remember Me, that will be released in September 2011.
BPM: How can our readers reach you online? Readers can connect with me through my website at: http://www.cherylrobinson.com and also join me on my recently created Facebook page. There is a link on my web site.
Cheryl Robinson–When I Get Where I’m Going
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