Friday, June 19, 2020

Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton is an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University, her Master of Science in Journalism Broadcasting from Northwestern University and her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media from Hampton University.

Braxton's debut novel is The Talking Drum.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I chose a title that I thought was intriguing and as it turns out, my readers think so as well. On their face, the words “Talking” and “Drum” seem like an odd combination. It’s counterintuitive to think that a drum can talk. The title makes people curious as to what a “talking drum” is. People with a vague understanding of drumming have come close to guessing correctly, but they still aren't sure. Their questions about the title lead to a fun conversation that I always end with, “If you want to know the meaning of “The Talking Drum,” you’ll have to read the book.” My title does a highly effective job of piquing curiosity. Once readers get into the story they can follow the breadcrumbs to find out the full meaning of “The Talking Drum.”

What's in a name?

I gave the character who co-owns the bookstore with his wife the name Malachi, after Malachi in the Bible. The Biblical Malachi was a prophet in the Old Testament and the writer of the Book of Malachi. In The Talking Drum, Malachi is a prophet in the sense that he announces what the future will be for the bookstore he and Sydney are opening. He is not a writer, but an academic who leaves academia and starts of business centering on books to educate the general public.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

She would be very surprised. When I was a teenager, I knew that I wanted to become a novelist but at that age I had no idea the themes I would explore. My teenage self would be surprised and awed that I’d written such a thought-provoking, timely, and socially relevant work of fiction.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I see a lot of myself in my character Sydney, Malachi’s wife. Sydney is a suburban girl. She’s not too comfortable in the gritty environment she’s moved to with her husband. She grew up pampered. Her parents provided her with horseback riding lessons, European travel, private schooling. She loves learning, studied print journalism and photojournalism and is in law school on a fellowship. She wants very much to make her young marriage work and is struggling to find her voice in the relationship. She’s searching for her footing. She needs to learn to be assertive. I can identify with most of Sydney’s feelings and personality.