What fictional character do you most identify with and why?
Being a quirky black girl myself, I don't find many narrators whose experiences reflect my own. But if you erased my heavy edge of cynicism and gave me way more altruistic qualities, I'd probably act and think exactly like Anne of Green Gables. I also found myself weirdly relating to the Oscar Wao from THE BRIEF AND WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO, just because I know the awkwardness of being a nerd in a culture known for being cool.
How do you live "quirky brown"? (quirky brown is my year long reading challenge focused on fiction depicting atypical Black experiences, like your work!)
I represent hardcore for the quirky brown even when it makes things awkward. But I also try to read as much black sci-fi and fantasy as I can get my hands on and then tell everybody about it. And if it's a black graphic novel, like AYA or BAYOU or INCONEGRO, I'm all over it.
What books would readers be most surprised to find on your bookshelves?
At this point, no one's surprised by anything on my shelf. I'm known for reading everything from mass market romance to the really literary to plays. People are usually surprised by what's not on my shelf. After getting out of grad school, I decided not to read anything else by anyone who was dead. Staying that thoroughly contemporary has been a controversial decision. I've only broken the rule once for FLATLAND by Edwin A. Abbot.
Who's your favorite quirky brown author and why?
I will read anything by Carleen Brice, Laura Esquivel, Junot Diaz, Colson Whitehead and Tananarive Due. I'm a sucker for well-written and commercial, with a nice dose of unusual.
What's your favorite quirky brown book and why?
THE COLOR PURPLE has influenced both my writing and my life. It's funny how few books give dark-skinned women happy endings. But Celie convinced me that you can have everything going against you and still come out on top.
What 5 songs would you consider the soundtrack to encompass your literary work?
"Head Over Heels" by Tears for Fears, "Ain't Nobody" by Chaka Khan, "Silver Linings" by Rilo Kiley, "Halo" by Beyonce, and "River Deep, Mountain High" by Tina Turner Recent - Bonus: "One and Only" by Adele
What 5 songs would you consider part of your life soundtrack?
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper, "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson, "Halo" by Beyonce, "Island in the Sun" by Weezer, "Things Can Only Get Better" by Howard Jones - Bonus: "I'm Bad" by L.L. Cool J
Which, if any, of your works would you like to see in a film adaptation?
I'm very committed to getting 32 CANDLES to the big screen.
What's next for Ernessa T. Carter?
I've finished my second book, THE AWESOME GIRL'S GUIDE TO DATING EXTRAORDINARY MEN, which I hope will hit shelves in 2012 sometime. And I'm hard at work on my third book, which I'm just calling THE THIRD BOOK for now.