Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m reading the best fiction I can find, dancing to live music, enjoying the company of my many friends, cooking gourmet meals, or traveling. I also play classical piano and really love the opera.
When did you start writing?
I began writing at age 7, in the second grade. I had a wonderful teacher who said to me, before the entire class, “When you become an author, publish using your given name so I’ll know it’s you.” I’ve lost touch with her, but I hope she realizes what an impact she made on my life.
As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
When my first novel, THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, attracted international controversy and death threats. I had to make a choice about where I stood and why I am a writer. Today, I understand that, just as when I worked aa a journalist for 30+ years before becoming a novelist, I write to make a positive difference in the world.
If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
I live in the perfect city to start that book. My next protagonist lived for 30 years in Spokane, Washington, where I live now.
If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?
Clean my house! But alas, it’s not going to happen today. I will ride my exercise bicycle and practice Spanish, make a pot of soup, and read the Sunday New York Times—without the extra hours.
Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?
In Spokane! I envision a roman a clef called HINTERLAND.
Back to your present book, JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE, how did you publish it?
Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, is my publisher, and I wrote this book under contract.
In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
I traveled to Paris (twice), New York City, and St. Louis, MO, Josephine Baker’s childhood home, to research this book.
Why was writing JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE so important to you?
I hope this book adds to the conversation that we are currently having in America about race.
Josephine Baker, like the protagonists of all my novels, was a woman who found her inner power and used it to make a positive difference in the world. Raised in poverty and abuse, she became a star of the stage and screen at a young age before dedicating her life to fighting racism. She worked as a spy for the French Resistance during World War II, risking her life many times, and became an outspoken anti-segregationist in the United States during her tour of the country in 1951, before the civil rights movement even began. She succeeded in getting many whites-only theaters, nightclubs, hotels, restaurants, and other venues to integrate. I found her inspirational, and knew that others would, too.
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?
My ideas come from everywhere: books I’ve reading, newspaper and magazine articles, courses I’m listening to, movies I watch. My problem isn’t a dearth of ideas, but a surplus of them. The hard part is choosing!
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.
Any final words?
All my books are about amazing women in history. A’isha from THE JEWEL OF MEDINA and THE SWORD OF MEDINA; the four sisters from Provence in FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS; the French queen Blanche de Castille in WHITE HEART; Heloise d’Argenteuil, the 12th-century scholar and esteemed abbess in THE SHARP HOOK OF LOVE, and the 20th-century African-American performer Josephine Baker demonstrate with their lives that one woman can make a positive difference in the world. This is such an important message for our times—and writing these books is my way of trying to make a difference, too.
Where can visitors find you online?
I’ve recently joined Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/sherry-jones
I love Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1219600.Sherry_Jones
And, of course, there’s my author website: http://www.authorsherryjones.com
Come to Facebook for the sordid details of my personal life: http://www.facebook.com/authorsherryjones.
On Twitter, you’ll learn about my liberal, feminist political views: http://www.twitter.com/sherryjones
On Instagram, you’ll see pictures from my life and my reading life: http://www.instagram.com/authorsherryjones
Also on Instagram, I have a site that’s all things Josephine Baker: http://www.instagram.com/josephinebakerslastdance
Purchase copies of Josephine Baker’s Last Dance by Sherry Jones