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Shelf Awareness Book Brahmin Interview, May 24, 2013

On your nightstand now:
Arnold Rampersad's biography, The Life of Langston Hughes. Rampersad is nearly as lyrical as his subject's writing. Reading the biography right after Langston Hughes's own two volume memoir (The Big Sea and I Wonder as I Wander) is a joyful dip into the world of a man with the biggest heart imaginable, who revolutionized American poetry by writing in African American vernacular. Stanzas like "Good morning, Daddy!/Ain't you heard/The boogie-woogie rumble/Of a dream deferred" set critics rumbling about low-down trash-talk, and why would anybody want to read that?  Read More 
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Creating Fictional Characters

Creating fictional characters is one of the most mysterious aspects of the enigmatic activity we call creative writing. Here I sit, the author of a novel, imagining beings who have never really lived. Often they are composites of many people I’ve known, fused with bits of my own experience or personality; but ultimately they become their own people, whose voices I hear.  Read More 
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It's True: I Love to Write

"What, another book already?" friends exclaim. "You must be so disciplined." They shake their heads in disbelief.

Well, no, not really. The fact is that I love to write. Shaping each sentence, piling them up one upon another in a logical sequence, creating a clear beginning, middle, and end--all these activities fill me with  Read More 
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The Oddity of the Writing Profession

Being a full-time writer is a strange occupation. I work all day alone in a tiny cottage behind my house, hunched over my computer, lost in an imaginary world. If I weren't producing coherent literature, some might consider this behavior peculiar, at best--or worthy of psychiatric intervention.

Even at night my characters follow me,  Read More 
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On Becoming a Writer; 1st Books Blog

At twenty I married a writer, though I had no idea how to become one myself. The year before I’d stood on a street corner at a New York City pay phone and called Simon and Schuster, telling the woman I reached that I wanted to be “an editor or a writer.” No one at the house was the least bit impressed, or intereted. Read More 

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She Writes Press Interview, April 29, 2013

Nan Fink Gefen: Can you tell us about the genesis of Mama’s Child?

Joan Lester: I’m a member of a biracial family and also a veteran of the civil rights and women’s liberations movements, which rocked this country during the 1960s and ’70s--and we’re still feeling the ripples. Those movements  Read More 
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Our "racial" language

Even the words we choose to express the realities of our families can be loaded. At various times I've used different phrases, from "biracial" to "mixed race" to (even, long ago) "First World" and "Third World." Someone in my family has always objected to one or another descriptor: "Mixed race makes me feel like  Read More 
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