BiblioLifestyle - MEET: Charmaine Wilkerson

Author Features

MEET: Charmaine Wilkerson

Charmaine Wilkerson is from New York, has lived in Jamaica, and does much of her writing in Italy.

Author Charmaine Wilkerson - Black Cake
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?

The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Epic, tough, and full of love.  

 

Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?

None recently. 

 

Do you re-read books? And if yes, what was your last re-read?

Rarely. The last, full reread was Fahrenheit 541 by Ray Bradbury. 

 

What are your go-to genres?

I have eclectic tastes but I do love to read contemporary authors writing about multiple characters or timelines. 

 

What is your favorite childhood book?

Anancy and Miss Lou by Louise Bennett. The Anancy character is based very loosely on the West African spider god. A bit of a rascal, but lovable. 

 

What books are on your bedside table right now?

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez, Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho, and A Little Hope by Ethan Joella. 

 

Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?

Both.

 

What is your ideal reading setting?

Very slouchy furniture. 

 

Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?

My favorite independent bookstore will always be the one that’s close to me or someone to whom I wish to send a book. (In the US) I like stores like Book Passage in California for using digital technology to bring readers and authors together. I also appreciate small, niche indies that work to shine a spotlight on underrepresented or lesser-known authors. Bookstores like Harriet’s and Uncle Bobbies in Philadelphia. 

Author Charmaine Wilkerson Interview

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I was seven years old when I swiped a book of stories by Edgar Allan Poe from my parent’s bookshelf. I was mesmerized by the way in which The Tell-Tale Heart slowed down the action so that it seemed to take forever to open that door.

 

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I went to see Matera, the southern Italian city with cave dwellings, after reading Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi. 

 

Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?

I wrote most of my debut novel Black Cake at my dining table in Italy. Now I have a dedicated writing space in a converted storage unit.

 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Neither. When I stop writing, I feel as though I’ve been swimming underwater and I’m coming up for air.

 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I always have scenes sitting in computer files but before writing Black Cake, I wrote only one other novel-length manuscript. It never saw the light of day. 

 

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Since I’m a debut novelist, it feels strange to read reviews of my novel. I’m grateful to readers who take time out of their lives to read the book, no matter how they feel about it.

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Just write and stop worrying about what other people will think. 

 

When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?

 Often dodging urban traffic on my bicycle. 

 

What are your three favorite things right now?

Walking on a sunny, chilly day. Three days in a row.

 

Your favorite travel destination and why?

Wherever I get to go next.

 

What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?

Broccoli cooked with garlic and pepper. My go-to drink is water. Really.

Author Charmaine Wilkerson Interview

What six people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner a party?

Six people I’ve only seen on Zoom in the past two years.

 

If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, who would play you?

A soapy drama. Rutina Wesley.

 

What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?

The Underground Railroad, based on the book by Colson Whitehead. 

 

You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?

No Roots by Alice Merton.

 

If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?

 The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

The Reader's Couch Podcast - Charmaine Wilkerson

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