Writer Eric Jerome Dickey, 'Chasing Destiny'
ED GORDON, host:
I'm Ed Gordon and this is NEWS & NOTES. His latest novel, Chasing Destiny, is once again causing buzz in the literary world. But that comes as no surprise. In fact, since he published his first novel, Sister, Sister in 1996, Eric Jerome Dickey has been a fixture on the New York Times Bestseller list. His characters are vibrant and their lives are a mixture of humor, tragedy, and drama. But the huge success the Tennessee native has found as a writer comes as a bit of a surprise. Writing was not always Dickey's first love.
Mr. ERIC JEROME DICKEY (Author, Chasing Destiny): My degree is actually in Computer Systems Technology from the University of Memphis and it wasn't until after I left Memphis that I got to L.A. and I was exposed to a lot of people who were in the arts. And eventually, I landed in a writing class. I actually went to the class with a friend, who talked me into taking a class with her because she didn't want to be the only African American in the class. And I went reluctantly, and I stayed and she dropped out. I took a lot of classes, I mean, and I would sometimes take class once a week.
And I was living probably 40, 45 miles out, which in L.A. is a very long way, 'cause it was fighting traffic. And on a rainy day, I can't even speak about traffic on a rainy day, but I never missed a class. I just, I always looked forward to it. And I guess you could say I just found my passion. I just felt--I fell into a community where I felt like I belonged.
GORDON: Let me ask you this. What do you think it is about this generation or two of black women who have found themselves gravitating so much to literary work like this?
Mr. DICKEY: I would say before Terry McMillan, there was not any true literary representation, meaning that there were no characters who looked like them, that were going through what they were going through at the time. We're talking about women who are educated, who are coming of their own, who, you know--so we're writing these very contemporary stories that they can connect to right now. Even though, in my opinion, relationships haven't changed over the years. I mean, it's always--if you go back to the Billie Holiday song, it's, or the Nina Simone songs or the Nat King Cole songs, there's still that same struggling relationship. We've just brought it up to date.
GORDON: Mm-hmm. Let's talk about the new book, Chasing Destiny.
Mr. DICKEY: Yeah.
GORDON: Give us a quick synopsis of the book.
DICKEY: Well, you know, it opens with the main character, one of the main characters, Billie, she's pregnant and she's going to tell her boyfriend, Keith, and at the same moment Keith is coming to tell Billie that he's going back to his wife.
GORDON: Slight problem there.
DICKEY: Yes, slight problem there, so it opens up with a love triangle. Well, it's more than a love triangle because, you know, Billie is pregnant. But a lot of it speaks to this character, Billie. She's 34 and there's a section in the book where she talks about, you know, when you get older, your reality of the type of person you're gonna date changes. You know, you get older and you know that eventually you're gonna date someone who's been married or they have a kid or they have kids and there's no longer that fantasy of the single, rich guy coming in. And she's in this spot and she's just trying to figure out, you know, basically just trying to deal with it.
GORDON: One of the other things that's interesting to me is what you have been working on, on a dual track if you will...
Mr. DICKEY: Yeah.
GORDON: ...and that is the Marvel Comic Book series that...
Mr. DICKEY: Oh yeah, that's my baby.
GORDON: That unique movement now reaching out to authors who have had a love for comic books. Talk to me about your involvement there.
Mr. DICKEY: Oh it's great, man. They contacted me and we were just kind of like just shooting it, just trying to figure out, you know, basically, I'm trying to figure out where I fit in to the Marvel universe. Then they came to me with the Storm project because Reggie Hudlin is doing this marvelous thing with Black Panther. Black Panther is the African black heroes in the comic, or he is the hero. He is the one that's most--that everyone recognizes.
And him and Storm are getting married, which to me is a big thing because we've seen a lot of white superheroes have these spectacular weddings, everyone from Clark Kent and Lois Lane getting married to Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson getting married. They've never shown black superheroes that way. So this is, to me, it's like really, really important. I mean, I'm doing a lot of Storm's back story, how she first met T'Challa, the future Black Panther, King of Wakanda. And, you know, it's like a childhood dream come true. I just keep finding a way to remain creative and just not do the same thing over and over again. And I think the audience appreciates that.
GORDON: Yes, creative and keeping the fan base coming back. Chasing Destiny is the newest project and if it's anything like the others that have preceded it, you've got another big hit on your hands. Eric Jerome Dickey, thanks so much for spending some time with us.
DICKEY: All right, thank you, Mr. Gordon. Thanks, Ed.
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