Sequel to Sinners & Saints
by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Jasmine Cox Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams are at it once again. With the election for the president of the American Baptist Coalition over, both First Ladies have returned home to live their lives. But then the Oprah show, and then, a cat fight, and then…a murder….the enemies have to become frienemies in order to stay alive.
BPM: Introduce us to Friends and Foes and the main characters. What makes each one special? Do you have any favorites?
The novel, Friends and Foes is the second collaboration between us. It’s the follow up to Sinners and Saints. Both novels are about Jasmine Cox Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams. These are characters that we created on our own but brought together when the publisher suggested it. They are the perfect characters to go up against each other. Jasmine is a little older, Rachel is younger. Jasmine is from the North, Rachel is from the South, Jasmine can be a little bit bougie, Rachel can be a little bit country…but then, they have so much in common, too.
In this novel, Friends and Foes, the two previous enemies, have to become frenemies to get out of a sticky situation they’ve gotten themselves into…the murder of a prominent pastor.
BPM: Which character or topic in the book can you identify with the most? Why?
Both of us identify with the two First Ladies. We created them and they appear in a total of nine books, either together or separately. So we know these characters better than we know our previous characters.
BPM: What drew you to tackle the questions or topics in Friends and Foes?
When we started the second novel, we knew we wanted to deliver a story that was very different from the first story. The first novel had the characters going back and forth, so in this novel we focused on them working together. But, we had to have an issue where we could bring them together. And nothing does that better than murder.
BPM: Does your faith or education inspire your writing?
That’s a good question. We are both Christians who are writers, so of course, our faith will always be part of what we do. That’s why I think we often write stories that focus around the church — though we write many other things, too. But our education is just as important. Both of our careers have shown up in our novels, and our education has helped in our discipline to write every day, and the other things we need to promote and package our books.
BPM: Can you outline some areas where your characters agreed? Disagreed?
Now, that’s a funny question. Our characters always disagree, that’s what our readers love. Because Rachel and Jasmine are so different, they see life through totally different lenses. But when it came down to it in Friends and Foes, when they had to stick together, they did! That’s what made this book so much fun for us to write. Rachel and Jasmine didn’t know if they loved or hated each other.
BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
You know, we’re both entertainers and we never forget that. We want our readers to read books that will make them laugh, make them think, and then make them want to go tell somebody. LOL. But our books have messages, not because we set out to write a message, but because the stories we write are so relatable that people see themselves in the characters, and then they learn something.
BPM: What are your goals as a writer? Do you set out to educate? Entertain? Illuminate? Inspire?
Our primary goal is to entertain. But the gift that God has given us allows us to educate and just by doing what we’re doing, we’ve been blessed to inspire readers, too.
BPM: What do you think the effect has been of the media attention focus on African-American literature and the arts?
We think that the fact that the media doesn’t focus on AfAm literature is what affects us the most. It is hard for the media to be interested in just a normal, drama-filled story written by African-American authors because the media doesn’t see what we write as stories that can cut across all racial-gender-spiritual lines. Just a little bit of media attention could go a long way.
BPM: A Legacy is something that is handed down from one period of time to another. Finish this sentence – “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers… ”
Our writing offers the following legacy to future readers: they will be able to see the issues that were important to us in this time and how we merged serious topics in an entertaining, humorous and informative way. And readers will be able to see how serious we were about the craft of writing. It is important to be able to tell a good story, but it is equally important that it is written well.
BPM: Share with us your latest news. How may our readers follow you online?
ReShonda: My last two books were nominated for NAACP Image Awards in Outstanding Literature and Everybody Say Amen won in 2011. And my next novel, A Family Affair will be published in July, 2013.
Readers can follow me online on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/reshondatbillingsley and Twitter @ReshondaT. My website is www.reshondatatebillingsley.com
Victoria: The news for me is that The Ex Files has been optioned to become a movie and the producers are interested in making it into a television series. I’ve been asked for more “Ex Files” material, so I have a novella coming out this Christmas called, Merry Ex-Mas and then my 2014 book will also be an Ex Files follow up.
My last novel, Destiny’s Divas was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and I was proud that it was my second nomination. My next novel, Never Say Never will be out in June, 2013. It is my first “interracial” novel.
Readers can follow me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/victoriachristophermurray and Twitter @VictoriaECM. My website is www.victoriachristophermurray.com
ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s FB links:
Victoria Christopher Murray’s FB links:www.victoriachristophermurray.com