Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sad News...

It is with great sadness that I make an announcement concerning my friend and New York Times bestselling author, Leslie Esdaile, a.k.a. L. A. Banks. She is battling a grave illness. I received the following e-mail from her friend, Tina Wise:

It is with profound sadness that we have to inform you that our beloved sister and friend, Leslie Esdaile, (“L.A. Banks”) is most gravely ill. She is facing an uphill battle in her struggle with serious illness. Please know that as Leslie needs all of her energy in this fight, she is absolutely not able to receive visitors, answer emails, texts or phone calls, or receive flowers. What she is able to receive is your continued prayers.
Also, Leslie’s medical expenses are mounting at an astronomical rate. If you wish to assist Leslie, a fund has been established to help with these ever increasing expenses. If you wish to send donations (please note that donations are not tax-deductible) to help Leslie, please see the information listed below:

Leslie Esdaile Fund
Account #81538801
Police and Fire Federal Credit Union
Operations Center
901 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107-2404

If you live in Philadelphia, PA, you may take donations directly to any Police and Fire Federal Credit Union branch. Please be sure to note the account number. You may also send them to the P.O. Box listed below*.

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union Branch Locations:

Main Branch:

901 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Additional Branches:

Leo Mall, 11705 Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116-2515

Davisville Shopping Center, Street Road, Philadelphia, PA

Andorra Shopping Center, Ridge and Henry Avenues, Philadelphia, PA

City Avenue Shopping Center, 7604 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19151-2007

Mayfair Branch on Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Northeast Branch, 7500 Castor Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Grant and Academy Shopping Center Branch, Philadelphia, PA

You may send good wishes and cards to*:

Leslie Esdaile
c/o Tina Ryan Wise
P.O. Box 37189
Philadelphia, PA 19148-9998

 On behalf of Leslie, her daughter Helena, her sister Liza and all of her family and friends, we sincerely thank you for all of your continued prayers and support.

Tina Ryan Wise

Also guys, writers and other publishing professionals are holding an auction to raise funds for Leslie's hospital expenses. This is a link: http://labanksauction.org/ 
Anne Elizabeth and Jo Carol Jones are the persons to contact if you have a service or item you'd like to offer here: http://labanksauction.org/Auction.htm
Any paypal information should be updated there. Thanks!

And the Winner Is...

There were 10 official entries. I used random.org to choose a winner, and the winner is Smarty P. Jones, who was commenter #8.  Smarty, You'll receive an autographed copy of LET'S PLAY WHITE. Thanks to all who entered.

Friday, June 3, 2011

An Interview With Chesya Burke--And a Giveaway!

Chesya Burke has published over forty short stories in various publications including Dark Dreams: Horror and Suspense by Black Writers, Voices From the Other Side, and Whispers in the Night, each published by Kensington Publishing Corp.; the historical, science and speculative fiction magazine, Would That It Were and many more.

Several of her articles appeared in the African American National Biography published by Harvard and Oxford University Press and she won the 2004 Twilight Tales award for short fiction. Her short story collection, Let’s Play White, debuted a few weeks ago and was published by APEX Books.

Chesya attends Agnes Scott College where she studies Creative Writing and the African Diaspora as it relates to race, class and gender and many of these themes appear in her fiction.

Visit Chesya at http://www.chesyaburke.com/ or on her blog http://chesyaburke.livejournal.com/ where she tends to discuss these issues, and genre fiction as well.

I had the pleasure of interviewing my good friend Chesya for my blog, which is below, and the giveaway for her short story collection, LET'S PLAY WHITE, will follow thereafter.

1.) The title of your novel is quite fascinating. What convinced you to choose such a title and why?

Let's Play White is a short story collection, although it does contain a almost 30,000 word novella. The title was influenced by Richard Wright's 1940 novel, Native Son. The novel follows a black man living in poverty and unable to make a better life for himself and his family because he's black.

At one point the main character and a friend play a game titled "Let's Play White" where they imagine what life would be like if only they could be white. The novel is about oppression and what happens when people are placed in boxes and not allowed to get out. Although it's 2011, many of the same problems still exist for minorities. I decided to highlight some of these issues of class, race and gender in my collection, while adding an element of the speculative.

2.) What is your favorite genre to read and/or write in? And why?

I read pretty much any genre. I don't like to limit my reading because I enjoy using elements from both genre and so called more literary works within my fiction. I know many people say it, and it's not
different for me; my work is hard to classify. I've been told I don't write horror often enough, and I don't really write classic (urban) fantasy or science fiction. I think my work could be called magic realism, but even that's subjective.

3.) When did you first begin your writing journey?

I first began writing when I was about 12 years old. I first began the "writing journey," as in trying to write for publication, about ten years ago.

4.)Who are your major influences?

Octavia Butler, hands down. I absolutely loved the way her work encompassed many different ideas, usually simultaneously. Her work touched on ideas of femininity, politics, spirituality, sensuality and culture, while exploring what it means to be a woman of color through the supernatural. I'm also fans of Robert McCammon, Ralph Ellison, Tananarive Due, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, Samuel R. Delaney, Nikki Giovanni, and many many many more.

5.) What are your favorite novels?

It's hard to make a concise list. Don't make me. I will say that anyone who hasn't already should read Octavia Butler. Sooner rather than later.

Thanks for having me.

I'd like to thank Chesya for stopping by and participating. And also for giving away a copy of her awesome collection. And now for the giveaway:

Below is the synopsis for Let's Play White, taken from the Apex Book Company's website, where you can also pre-order Chesya's book: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/2011/03/lets-play-white-by-chesya-burke-available-for-pre-order/.

White brings with it dreams of respect, of wealth, of simply being treated as a human being. It’s the one thing Walter will never be. But what if he could play white, the way so many others seem to do? Would it bring him privilege or simply deny the pain? The title story in this collection asks those questions, and then moves on to challenge notions of race, privilege, personal choice, and even life and death with equal vigor.

From the spectrum spanning despair and hope in “What She Saw When They Flew Away” to the stark weave of personal struggles in “Chocolate Park,” Let’s Play White speaks with the voices of the overlooked and unheard. “I Make People Do Bad Things” shines a metaphysical light on Harlem’s most notorious historical madame, and then, with a deft twist into melancholic humor, “Cue: Change” brings a zombie-esque apocalypse, possibly for the betterment of all mankind.

Gritty and sublime, the stories of Let’s Play White feature real people facing the worlds they’re given, bringing out the best and the worst of what it means to be human. If you’re ready to slip into someone else’s skin for a while, then it’s time to come play white.

Chesya received excellent reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Laird Barron. And Chesya also received a stunning blurb from Nikki Giovanni, Grammy nominated spoken word artist and poet. To find out more about Chesya, visit her website or her blog.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a signed copy of LET'S PLAY WHITE by Chesya Burke, all you have to do to enter is leave a comment. Also, please list your e-mail address as follows: your e-mail (AT) wherever (DOT) com, so you won't get junk mail. The contest is open to everyone in the U.S. only please. The contest will end on June 13, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Good luck. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on June 14, 2011. Good luck.