Tell us about yourself?
I’m a product of the American South, which I left as soon as I could. Having grown up in a military family, I’m accustomed to traveling, and have lived in the Southwest, Northeast, and, now, Northwest U.S. I have always loved to read since learning on my mother’s knee when I was 4. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was very young, but worked as a journalist for 30 years before writing my first novel, THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, which provoked death threats but became an international best-seller. I also work as a freelance writer for technology companies and a travel, food, and wine writer. I play classical piano, dabble in languages (Spanish, French, and Arabic so far), am happily single, love my friends and community, and am planning a trip around the world in 2020.
Tell us about your book?
JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE is a biographical novel that explores how the first black superstar, Josephine Baker, transformed from a needy young entertainer raised in poverty and greedy for money and love to a heroic fighter against racism: as a spy for the French Resistance during World War II, U.S. civil rights activist in 1951, and mother to a “Rainbow Tribe” of children whom she adopted from cultures around the world to demonstrate that hatred is not innate, but learned.
What inspired you to write this book?
All my books are inspired by my own desire to contribute to the conversation about the issues that most concern women: oppression, patriarchy, religion (and women’s struggle for equality in the Christian and Muslim religious traditions), family, work, race, gender roles, and more. I think biographical fiction is a perfect platform for this exploration. I choose my protagonists according to what they and their lives can teach us today.
In fact, when I first read about Josephine Baker, I felt ambivalent. Her oldest “adopted” son (she never formally adopted him), Jean-Claude Baker, wrote a biography after she died that, while filled with invaluable factual details, portrayed her most unflatteringly. He even saw her work as a spy and outspoken anti-segregationist as self-serving: she loved the excitement and the attention, he said. I asked myself, “Do I really want spend the next several years of my life with this woman?” I read a few more books about her, though, and came to deeply admire her. She risked everything, and lost it all.
What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading your book?
I hope JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE will contribute to the national and global conversation about racism: past, present, and future. I know that I learned many shocking things as I researched the book. But also, on a purely personal level, I hope readers will be inspired by Josephine Baker’s story and her example of what one person can do to make a positive difference in the world. She was so incredibly courageous, and her life story sets a bold and daring example for us all.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?
JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE is structured around her last performance, which was a 50-year retrospective of her life in show business. The program didn’t follow her life chronologically and included several scenes that never occurred, so figuring out how to make my story work took me several drafts. My editor, Kate Dresser, was such a big help that I dedicated the book to her.
How can someone get a copy of the book?
Published by Simon and Schuster’s Gallery Books, it’s available online and in libraries and bookstores around the country. Barnes and Noble and Target stores both carry it currently.
What’s next for you?
I’m researching a novel that I hope will contribute to the conversation about gender identity.
Where can visitors find you online?
Come to Facebook for the sordid details of my personal life: www.facebook.com/authorsherryjones.
On Twitter, you’ll learn about my liberal, feminist political views: www.twitter.com/sherryjones
On Instagram, you’ll see pictures from my life and my reading life: www.instagram.com/authorsherryjones
Also on Instagram, I have a site that’s all things Josephine Baker: www.instagram.com/josephinebakerslastdance
I’ve recently joined Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/sherry-jones
And I love Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1219600.Sherry_Jones
And, of course, there’s my author website: www.authorsherryjones.com