Currently, I'd say Zora in Substitute Me because I've got locs and her boho style, and also because she feels this pressure to do more with her life than the thing she loves to do. In her case, she loves to cook and feels very creatively fulfilled making a good meal for someone. In my case, it's writing. But I have a degree in journalism and have worked full-time salaried jobs where you can make a lot more money than the vast majority of novelists do, and I struggle sometimes with trying to balance the part of me that says "grow up and go to work" with the part that says "do what you love."
How do you live "quirky brown"? (quirky brown is my year long reading challenge focused on fiction depicting atypical Black experiences, like your work!)
Well, atypical is interesting because I'm finding out there are more black book nerds than one would think. So it might be what one would think is atypical about how I live (devouring novels, watching The Colbert Report, quoting Yoda in my every day speech) is actually somewhat common even for black folks.
What books would readers be most surprised to find on your bookshelves?
I don't know what readers expect of me, so I'm not sure what would surprise them, but here's an author maybe they don't know about who is a favorite of mine: Lynda Barry. She writes and illustrates comics. I have a few of her books and my husband has a limited-edition copy of one of her books that he ordered directly from her.
Who's your favorite quirky brown author and why?
I have high hopes for Ernessa T. Carter. Her first novel, 32 Candles, was delightfully quirky and I hope her next books also introduce us to some fresh, eccentric characters.
What's your favorite quirky brown book and why?
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao because it's funny as hell and sad and silly and brilliant.
What 5 songs would you consider the soundtrack to encompass your literary work?
House of the Rising Sun, Nina Simone
No Drama, Mary J. Blige
Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, Sweet Honey in the Rock
Golden, Jill Scott
Knocks Me Off My Feet, Stevie Wonder
What 5 songs would you consider part of your life soundtrack?
When Doves Cry, Prince
Just Fine, Mary J. Blige
Dance Little Sister, Terence Trent D'Arby
Every Day I Write the Book, Elvis Costello
Oh Happy Day, Edwin Hawkins Singers
Which, if any, of your works would you like to see in a film adaptation?
I did get to see Orange Mint and Honey made into the TV movie Sins of the Mother (it's currently nominated for an NAACP Image Award!). Also wouldn't mind seeing Children of the Waters on the small or big screen, but so far there are no plans for that.
What's next for Carleen Brice ?
I'm writing my third novel Calling Every Good Wish Home.
I appreciate Carleen Brice taking time out to indulge my interview. I'm super excited to hear about an upcoming novel. And if you still haven't read them, please get yourself copies of Orange, Mint and Honey and Children of the Waters. BGBS wishes her all the best!