Monday, February 05, 2007

Dwight Fryer
Memphis, 2005
Lori's Pic Collection

The following is the second half of a two-part Q & A with Dwight Fryer, NAACP Image Award nominee and author of The Legend of Quito Road.

Q: Before you were published, I understand that you attended a number of different writing conferences and workshops. Why? And could you name a few?
A: Actually, that's been one of the things I think that has been foundational to the level of success I've achieved, so far. I always sought out venues where I could learn about my writing craft . . . Where I could learn how to handle myself as a writer and what I should be doing every day . . ."
The first conference I attended was the Memphis Black Writers's Conference. I also went to the Oxford Conference For The Book. It's an hour drive from Memphis (Oxford, Mississippi) . . . and it's a very literary conference. From there I attended the Hurston/Wright Writers Week as well as the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, where I took a week long advanced writing class. By the time I went to those two, I had completed the book and rewritten it several times . . . I kept going to those type of conferences. Even after I received my book deal, I went to Napa Valley Writers' Conference in St. Helena, California.
Q: Tell me about your involvement with the Memphis Romance Writers of America.
A: When I started writing, I was looking for venues to learn how to write and I joined a romance writers' group here in Memphis, Tennessee called the River City Romance Writers. Once a month, I'd go out to Germantown Library (in the suburbs of Memphis) with 10 or 15 little ladies. We'd sit around and talk about writing and teach each other about craft. I learned so much from them. They were wonderful to me. They were writing romance and I was writing this decadent tale about a 13-year old boy . . . "
Q: Are there any books on the craft of writing that you've found particularly useful?
A: I found a great deal of help in a book called, Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. I also truly enjoyed and grew greatly from a book called The First Five Words by Noah Lukeman. There was another book that was just written in beautiful language called Writing Down The Bones (Natalie Goldberg ) and it was just a wonderful expose about life as a writer and how it is important to take your craft seriously, but not too seriously to the point that you become so critical that you won't write.
On the business side of writing, two of the books that were most instrumental to me were The Idiots Guide To Getting Published. I used to fall asleep with it at night. I bet I read that book completely, probably, ten times. I also read Jeff Herman's book, How To Write A Winning Book Proposal. Both of those books helped me tremendously in learning how to approach a publishing professional and what to expect and what not to expect.
Q: Who are some of the writers you admire?
A: I really admire John Edgar Wideman . . . Reading some of his writings helped me love books even more. I also really admire two people I met at the Hurston/Wright Writers' Week, Dr. Jeffrey Allen, the novelist who wrote Rails Under My Back and Mat Johnson, who won the Hurston/Wright Literary Award for his novel, Hunting In Harlem.
My former next door neighbor was Rosalyn McMillan (author of The Flip Side Of Eternity and Knowing, among others) and she helped me a good bit over the years by giving me literary tips on how to structure my book and what to look out for in doing business with the publishing world. I admire Marita Golden (author of After and Don't Play In The Sun, among others) who started the Hurston/Wright Foundation . . . and is a great writer. I received a lot of encouragement from her at the Hurston/Wright Writers' Week of 2004.

Q: What's the best advice you received as a new writer and that you'd like to pass along? A: One thing I heard Michael Garret, a novelist who taught continuing ed writing classes at the University of Memphis say was, writer's write, whether you're published, whether you've ever sold anything, whether you have an agent or don't have an agent, writers write. If you are a writer, identify yourself as a writer and even if no one else believes in you, you are a writer.

Writers are most creative when they think of reasons not to write. So, you have to write regardless of what's going on in your life. When my child died, I wrote. When I was on chemo, I wrote. On days I was too blue to notice that the sun was shining outside, I wrote.

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If you have any questions you'd like to ask Dwight Fryer, feel free to leave them in the OSM's comments section and (for a limited period of time) I'll pass them onto him. Also, if you're interested in learning more about the author and his work, visit his website HERE.

The theme for this year's NAACP Image Awards Show is "Youth Create Change." If you'd like to see if Dwight wins this year's award for Outstanding Literary Work From A Debut Author, the show will air live on Friday, March 2, 2007, 8:00-10:00 ET on the Fox network.


Sharon J. said...

Thanks for the two great interviews with Dwight Fryer. He did a telephone conference with the Women's Guild of East View Church of Shaker, Ohio, and the ladies are still bragging about what a great read "The Legend of Quito Road" is. Dwight is quite the raconteur and was an excellent guest for our discussion. I also appreciate his suggesting books on writing. I agree that the "First Five Words" is a big help for writers. I plan to read the Natalie Goldberg book that was suggested. May God continue to bless both you and Dwight in your careers as novelists.

Shellshock said...

These were great interviews. I was not familiar with Dwight Fryer, but you have given me a new author to check out. I would agree with him on Writing Down the Bones, it is a great book for anyone interested in writing.

Lori said...

Sharon J.,
I appreciate the kind words. Also, it is nice to see Dwight doing us all proud (smile).

I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but I've never read WRITING DOWN THE BONES. Everyone raves about it so . . . I guess I need to get a copy and see what all the fuss is about (smile). Thanks for stopping by. I'm planning to post a couple more author Q & A's soon, so do drop in again . . .