JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Julia Press Simmons, author of Begonia Brown: A Philadelphia Story
(Queen Midas Books)
(One of the first ten people to comment on Julia Press Simmonsâ€™ author interview will win a FREE copy of Begonia Brown: A Philadelphia Story from JoeyPinkney.com)
Begonia’s carefree world has been turned upside down. Forced to become the head of her household, she has to trade her paintbrush in for a switchblade and her love of art into a love affair with the hood. Lying, stealing and turning tricks, Begonia will do any and everything she can to protect her sisters from the ugliness of the world. However, it just isn’t enough…
When her younger sister Violet, desperate to escape the hell her life, is seduced by an up-and-coming corner boy. Their baby sister Daisy is riddled with disease that could be fatal if not cared for, Begonia is caught between the hard knocks of the streets and the nightmare of her home life.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write “Begonia Brown”?
Julia Press Simmons: There was an abandoned house next door to my childhood home. One day coming home from school, I noticed that a family moved in. The mom was on crack. The kids were self-sufficient. There was no father around.
They only squatted in the house for a month or two. But the look of them, the strength of them, burned into my memory. Although “Begonia Brown” isn’t about that family, it is a representation of them and many other homeless, faceless, nameless families in the hood scratching out a living.
JP: “Begonia Brown” brings to light a story seldom given a time for true reflection. Years from now, what effect do you think this book will have on your readers in terms of the plight it covers?
JPS: I would hope “Begonia Brown” sparks action and gives a voice to the timid. I hope that it finds its way into the hands of people living that life and in turn offers some small comfort. “Begonia Brown” speaks to their souls and lets them know that they are not invisible.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to “Begonia Brown” getting out to the public?
JPS: I have this corny quote from the movie Galaxy Quest on my wall. “NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER!” That’s my mantra.
I learned a lot with my first book, “Strawberry Mansion”. I made more mistakes than I care to admit. I will say what everyone says at the risk of sounding redundant: do your research!
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish “Begonia Brown”?
JPS: I finished “Begonia Brown” in six months. I have to start with an outline. Then I give myself chapter deadlines. I can crank out five thousand words in one sitting at a book store or library. Then I won’t write a page in weeks. I go with the flow!
JP: What’s next for Julia Press Simmons?
JPS: I have a Blog Talk Radio show which premiered 12-10-09. I will be in the studio during January to record my new poetry CD, and my third book drops in February! Iz buzy…lol