Episode 42: Valerie C. Woods

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To begin, let me clear up a few things. J. Dyanne does not communicate with little moon aliens or Martians. She does not have a crystal ball, nor was she responsible for the outcome of the last presidential election. And she certainly does not command the dead. She may speak with them from time to time, but command them? Who can do that? What could you possible use to exert pressure to obey? I mean, they're already dead. Perhaps threaten them with life? -- Valerie C. Woods, Katrin's Chronicles: The Canon of Jacquelene Dyanne Vol. 1 I am thrilled to welcome Valerie C. Woods and her charming middle-grade novel, Katrin's Chronicles: The Canon of Jacquelene Dyanne Vol. 1. Take a love of Sherlock Holmes, add in coming of age during the Civil Rights Era, and sprinkle it over with sisterly devotion and a touch of magic, and you have Valerie's warm and satisfying debut mystery. We talk about her work in theater (including Something For Everyone, the book of monologues she wrote after being unable to find material for herself outside of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun) and how it led to her first screenplay, a Disney Fellowship, and a television career that included Any Day Now and Touched by an Angel. You can check out all her credits here on her website; she can also be found here on Twitter. And do not miss the books she publishes. In addition to Sherlock Holmes, Valerie was influenced by the Harry Potter series and my own favorite middle grade novel, A Wrinkle in Time. She also gave a shout-out to Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew, and Mary Stewart's Arthurian saga that begins with The Crystal Cave. I want to mention the title of one of the books Valerie published and is editing the sequel to, Chet Baker: The Missing Years by Artt Frank. Finally, do not miss Valerie's take on the trope of "the chosen one," about 17 minutes into our conversation. Enjoy! -- Laura Transcript of Interview with Valerie C. Woods Laura Brennan: Valerie C. Woods is a writer/producer in television and film, and is also a publisher, editor and author. Among her TV writing credits, she has worked on Soul Food, Any Day Now, and Touched by an Angel. She founded the independent press, BooksEndependent, and her middle-grade novel, Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacquelene Dyanne, Vol. 1 combines mystery with history, and just a touch of magic. Valerie, thank you for joining me. Valerie C. Woods: Thank you for having me. It's great to be here. LB: So you have written for television and film, and you've written fiction and poetry and a book of monologues. Has it just always been writing for you? VCW: Well, it all started because I thought I wanted to be an actress. And I moved to New York from Chicago to be the starving artist/actor, and we were preparing for an actors' showcase and the only material I could find for black women that represented me was something from A Raisin In The Sun. And I realize there wasn't a lot of material that was written for black women, so I started writing my own material for auditions and showcases. And then everybody in my acting class wanted me to write something for them, and I did. Turned out I had about 25 acting monologues for men and women and decided to publish them. I got rejected from all the play publishers, Samuel French and all of them. And then I published it myself, sold out 1100 books, and then Samuel French said, okay, we'll publish it. Add 25 more. And so that began my life as a writer. LB: So you were actually an independent author long before it was cool. VCW: Yes! In fact, when I started my press, I remembered, oh, wait, this isn't new. Now it is so much more easy than it was back when I did it. The new platforms for Amazon and all the different self-publishing things, and digital and e-books. It's a breeze to produce, physically produce, but the same skills and creativity and editing is needed for the content. LB: Yes. Yes,

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