Award-winning author and professor Bernice McFadden loves New York. She walks through the streets unnoticed as if she’s not who she is. Ms. McFadden can frequent her regular neighborhood stores as If it’s nothing new. To them, she’s Ms. Bernice; to us, she’s BERNICE MCFADDEN… AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF “SUGAR,” “WARMEST DECEMBER” AND “THE BOOK OF HARLAN.”
With a career that spans more than twenty years and over a dozen novels, one would think that the notoriety would have one’s head swollen. Bernice is often mentioned in the same category as best-selling authors Alice Walker, Terri McMillan, and Zane.
Her novels span generations, she has provided a catalog that surpasses time and will be read repeatedly, as with her debut novel “Sugar,” which just celebrated its twentieth anniversary. Not to be outdone, Bernice has also written novels under the pen name “Geneva Holiday” and has penned erotic books that have reached bestseller status. Refusing to be pigeon-holed, she successfully branched out and expanded her readership, proving that you can reinvent yourself at any time.
Success comes in all forms, and she’s shown us that you never stop learning and growing. Here at Intellectual Ink Magazine, we strive to honor those that have paved the way, and her legacy has definitely made a mark. We were honored to chat with Bernice about some things. Here she gives us insight into her world.
Photographer Credit: Makeda Miller
Interview By Allison Grace
You have been writing for a long time. What advice would you give to new authors trying to find their niche?
To quote an overused adage: Variety is the spice of life. I encourage new writers and veterans as well to dabble in a variety of genres. I enjoy writing fiction and non-fiction, and I experiment with poetry as well. When writers challenge themselves to write outside of their comfort zones, it can only improve their art. When doing so, the writer may discover that they are proficient in more than one genre.
Your novels are based in locations that you’ve lived or visited. What is your favorite thus far, and why?
I guess my favorite place to write about is the place that I am most familiar with, which is my hometown of Brooklyn, New York.
If you were not an author, what career path would you have taken?
I really love studying different cultures, so I think I might have returned to school to study anthropology.
What inspired you to write your first novel, and would you change anything about it present day?
Sugar was inspired by the stories I heard from my elders, those people who migrated north to New York from Georgia. The novel was published 21 years ago. I’m a much more skilled writer now than I was back then – so yes, there are a few things I would change – but those changes would not affect the plot.
Tell us your hobbies when not writing.
I like to travel, take long walks, cook, take long walks and listen to audiobooks and podcasts.
You’ve lived a full life. Would you write a memoir?
I’m working on a memoir now! LOL
Who is your favorite author at the moment?
It’s hard to pick one, but I love Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Terry McMillan because those were the authors that I studied while I was learning to write, so they will always be very important to me.
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Celebrating 20 years of "Sugar"
CLICK HERE TO READ DIAMOND'S LITERARY WORLD REVIEW OF LOVING DONOVAN
BERNICE L. McFADDEN is the author of The Book of Harlan (winner of the 2017 American Book Award and the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.) This in addition to eight other critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award.
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