Jacqueline Luckett recently debuted her first novel entitled, Searching for Tina Turner. An interesting story about a woman's struggle to find herself after 23 years of being a wife and mother.
Booklist states that, "in her debut novel Luckett delivers a strong, likeable heroine who comes through her crisis by recognizing her true worth and empowering herself. Luckett's triumphant tale will rally readers of all backgrounds."
Jacqueline began writing as a teenager. She is a graduate of California State University, Hayward in sociology, and has worked in sales for a major corporation.
In 2004, Jacqueline formed the Finish Party (featured in O Magazine, October 2007) along with seven other women writers-of-color. The Finish Party meets monthly to workshop their projects-in-progress.
B2M presents our exclusive interview with Jacqueline Luckett.
Welcome to Books2Mention Magazine. Thanks for the opportunity to feature you.
B2M: What was the very first story you wrote as teenager?
JACQUELINE: I grew up in Berkeley, California where the local newspaper encouraged young writers to submit stories and poetry for publication. That’s where my interest in writing blossomed. Though I submitted a few pieces, my real love was storytelling. Friday nights were the times my cousins gathered at our house while our parents socialized. As the oldest of all my cousins, I was expected to make sure that everyone stayed in line, and I did so by telling stories. My favorites were scary tales of resurrected corpses and midnight walks through cemeteries, all embellished with sound effects. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names or topics of any of the stories that were printed in the newspaper, but I’m sure they were about events in the everyday life of a skinny, teenaged girl who loved to read.
B2M: How gratifying was it to see you writings published in the local paper?
JACQUELINE: That was such a long time ago! I still have one newspaper clipping of my sister, one of my cousins, and myself standing outside the newspaper office. Our smiles were wide and full of pride. We were excited, and maybe even a bit boastful to know that our friends and family would read our work and the bragging rights that came with one week of fame.
B2M: When did you decide that it was time to write your first novel?
JACQUELINE: In college, I put aside my dreams of writing and limited my storytelling to babysitting. Once I entered the workplace, most of my writing was limited to business proposals and presentations.
Around 1999, catalogs from the local university were mailed to my home every quarter. After a lot of procrastination, I enrolled in a class, “Exploring Your Creative Potential.” I began to write short stories and a bit of poetry. After that class, I worked on a novel of linked short stories about four sisters in 1930s Mississippi for a couple of years. The idea and characters in Searching for Tina Turner came to me in 2004. At that time, I was in a small writing group. The facilitator encouraged me to follow the idea that excited me the most, and so Searching for Tina Turner the novel was born.
B2M: Please tell us about your debut novel, Searching for Tina Turner.
JACQUELINE: Searching for Tina Turner is the story of Lena Harrison Spencer, a woman who, on the surface, appears to have it all. She and her husband have two wonderful children, and they live a life of luxury. In reality, however, Lena finds that happiness is elusive. Her husband is emotionally distant, her son has developed a drug habit, and her daughter is disgusted by her mother’s “overbearing behavior.” In an effort to save their marriage, Lena and Randall enter counseling, but when Randall decides he’s had enough, he offers his wife an ultimatum, “Be grateful for all I’ve done for you—or leave.” Lena, realizing that money can't solve her problems and that her husband is no longer the man she married, decides to choose the latter.
As she struggles to find herself after twenty-three years of being a wife and mother, Lena begins to draw inspiration from the real-life story of Tina Turner.
Searching for Tina Turner was selected by Essence Magazine as the January 2010 Book Club Pick and recommended as a must read in the “Live Well Every Day” column in Women’s Day Magazine (February, 2010). Kate Maruska of San Francisco Book Review (May 10, 2010) calls the novel “. . . inspiring, sexy, and an absolute and unequivocal delight to read.”
B2M: What inspired you to write this particular story?
JACQUELINE: Ironically, after my divorce in 2003, I discovered that several friends were considering divorce. Conversations with those women focused on what comes next after a long-term marriage ends, especially when a woman is in her fifties. I wondered how women got back on track.
In 2004, Tina Turner’s “All the Best” album went platinum in the U.S., and she was everywhere—on the news, in the papers and on TV shows. Tina Turner’s life story is inspirational. I began to think about a character who, though she doesn’t experience physical abuse, could be inspired by Ms. Turner’s resolve and knowledge that everything needed for success was within her.
B2M: How helpful was it to participate in workshops while polishing your writing skills in preparation of penning your book?
JACQUELINE: Sociology was my major in college. I don’t have an MFA. Writing workshops served as the foundation for honing my skills. I discovered the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) writing workshops and participated over the course of four years in workshops with Danzy Senna, Junot Diaz and Ruth Forman. VONA provided a safe haven for a new writer unsure of her abilities, yet eager to learn.
In 2004, along with seven other women writers of color, I formed my writing group, The Finish Party. Our goal is to do all that we can to help each other successfully finish our respective projects (and then move on to the next one!). These women are talented writers, skilled critics, teachers, and friends. Each member has her own strength; their feedback and support helped me with craft and story. Feedback is critical for me; it provides an objective reading that helps me understand what is and isn't working in a story. The Finish Party was an integral part of my writing process and helped me polish my story and bring my characters to life.
B2M: What do you enjoy most about writing?
JACQUELINE: In some ways, writing is like cooking. Instead of taking ingredients one can see, feel, and taste, the writer pulls the ingredients of character, place and plot to put a story together.
I love taking an idea, expanding it, and toying with it, in a manner of speaking, until it can stand on its own as a story. I love creating characters who do and say things so different from my own personality. Writing is hard work, but the challenge of creating is wonderful and fascinating. For the first time in my career, I’m doing what I love, while loving what I do.
B2M: Outside of writing what are your other interest?
JACQUELINE: Though I don’t entertain or prepare as many meals as I used to, I love to cook and consider myself a bit of a foodie. I try to take advantage of the wonderful restaurants and farmers’ markets in the San Francisco Bay Area whenever I can. I’m a photographer-in-progress (some of my photos are on my website) working to master that skill. Saying I love travel might sound cliché, but I enjoy seeing different parts of the U.S. and the world. My travels to France inspired parts of Searching for Tina Turner.
B2M: How do you anticipate using your creativity to make a mark in the literary world?
JACQUELINE: This is a great, thought-provoking question and one that I’ll continue to ponder after this interview is over. Writing, finishing, and having my novel published have made their marks on my bucket list. I don’t suppose I’m too different from many writers who want to make a mark, a good one, in the literary world.
It’s my hope that my characters and stories inspire and spark my readers to think about their own lives and the possibilities for change at any age. Midlife characters are the focus of my novels because I want to dispel the myths of being “over the hill.” I want “baby boomers” to have strong, sexy, and determined characters that they can relate to.
I’m thankful for my blessings and will continue to write the best novels that I can. I hope that readers who enjoy my novels will spread the word.
B2M: Are you currently working on a new project?
JACQUELINE: I’m in the midst of final revisions of my second novel, Passing Love, scheduled for release in October 2011. Passing Love is the story of love desired, but not always gained. The novel is about two women—whose lives are separate, but intertwined—one in the present and the other in the 1950s. Both women go to Paris in search of lives different from what they have.
B2M: Jacqueline we encourage you to continue writing great books with interesting characters and entertaining plots.
Thanks for interviewing with Books2Mention Magazine. Please be sure to come back again and keep readers informed about all of your future endeavors.
Much Success To You!
The Staff @ Books2Mention Magazine
You are welcome to visit the website of Jacqueline Luckett at www.JacquelineLuckett.com.
Books by Jacqueline Luckett include:
Searching for Tina Turner