Terry McMillan Discusses Her New Book 'Who Asked You?'

By Lashawn Hudson Contributing Writer | 10/25/2013, 11:01 a.m.
When you think about black women narratives/women’s fiction, in particular over the last 25 years, it’s simply impossible not to ...
Terry McMillan

AV: How does it feel to be back with your eighth book?

TM: I don’t look at it as “how it feels to be back.” My last book came out three years ago. It usually takes about a good year and then you have to edit. The production period takes about nine months. It takes a good couple of years to write. When I’m writing a book, I write every day until it’s done.  

AV: Has the publishing industry changed since your last book? What impact have electronic books made?

TM: The publishing industry has changed and our contracts have changed. There’s always a new publishing merger. There’s also very few African American writers and that’s very sad.  A lot of writers, at one time, were getting big advances and they were not able to pay back those advances. A lot of people thought they could get rich by writing and selling books and the truth is very few writers make their living off writing books. The thing with electronic books is when people walk up to me to sign them, I can’t do it.  

AV: What do you think readers will walk away with after reading this novel?

TM:  One of the reasons why I write is because we owe it to ourselves and to the world, to be better human beings and to be an asset instead of a liability. I hope that readers walk away with hope and that they find the courage to meet their challenges. That’s the only way they’re going to get solved, even if you have to take baby steps.

AV: Often times in your books Black women are protagonists in your stories. How important is that?

TM: Very important, maybe because I’m a woman. I like to focus on women and their emotional status and struggles. I think women have a major impact on our children and sometimes more than fathers. That‘s not the case all the time.  I’m not uninterested in stories about black men. I wrote “Disappearing Acts” from a man’s prospective. I’d like to know more about black men and I wish there were more black men writers.  

AV: What women writers have inspired you to tell stories about black women? Who are your literary grandmothers?

TM: Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker. And there are some others who were not black women. Zora had the most influence on my voice and my writing style. She showed me that you could talk in your everyday language while still letting the character tell the story.

AV: What’s next for Terry McMillan?

TM: A new book, but I’m not talking about it. I don’t talk about what I’m doing until it’s done.

For more information about the book visit: http://www.terrymcmillan.com/