Sweet Georgia Brown Humble Housewife Virtual Book Tour
Sweet Georiga Brown author Cheryl Robinson
I discovered Cheryl Robinson’s novel Sweet Georgia Brown via her blog, My Best Life, and am so glad I did! Sweet Georgia Brown is about Georgia Brown, a housewife who supports her struggling comedian husband, Marvin, until he makes it big as a Detroit radio host, and proceeds to slag her off every chance he get. Making fun of her and boasting about his affairs boosts his popularity, and Georgia puts up with it, until she simply can’t anymore. Along the way, there’s Marvin’s daughter with another woman, a bratty teenager who Georgia and Marvin take in, and when Georgia winds up getting her own radio show, just as Marvin’s gambling problems come to haunt him, life takes a big turn for both of them.
What I really liked about this book is that while they aspire to live a “better life,” we see that it’s not just about wealth. Once Marvin “makes it,” in fact, his family starts to fall apart, because he’s greedy and buys into this image of himself that’s false. I read a lot of chick lit novels where money seems to be one of the primary motivators, and it’s all about label name-dropping. This book isn’t, and is heartwarming and moving. Check out my interview with Cheryl below, and read more about her at her website and blog. AND…the first five people to comment (LEAVE an email address so I can contact you!) here get a FREE copy of the Sweet Georgia Brown! How about that? When you comment, tell us why you want to read it. Thanks, Cheryl, for taking the time to answer my questions. I've also included the book trailer after the interview.
What inspired you to write Sweet Georgia Brown, and how long did it take you? Did you have to do any research into the world of comedy and/or radio?
I was inspired to write Sweet Georgia Brown after watching an Oprah Winfrey show about housewives. These women were looking to discover their passion and I thought while watching it that it would make for a great theme for my next novel. I have a background in comedy. Years ago, I used to run a comedy night at a small club in downtown Detroit. And years before that when I was in fourth grade and attending Gesu Elementary School, which was a Catholic school, I would perform Richard Pryor outside of the school in front of a small crowd during our recreation time. I knew most of his routines by heart. My older brother would let me listen to the albums and I soaked it all in. I loved Richard Pryor.
Were Marvin or Georgia based on anyone real? Are there any elements of you in Georgia?
No, Marvin and Georgia were both figments of my imagination. I am also determined to become a household name. I really would like to take my writing to the next level. This is my third novel. I am in the midst of completing a fourth book, but yet, I am relatively unknown. Also, like Georgia, I am a sweet person who would stick by her man, but I, like Georgia, have my limit.
How is Sweet Georgia Brown, both the book and the writing process, different from your previous novels?
The book is different in some ways because it is more light-hearted than my earlier works. My other two novels published by Penguin/NAL Trade deal with a woman living with HIV. Sweet Georgia Brown was meant to have more humor than my previous novels. The writing process was different because I believe with each book it gets a little easier for me as I have now settled into my writing style.
This blog tour is called the Humble Housewife Tour, and "humble" certainly describes Georgia, especially in terms of her career and ambition. After struggling financially at a crappy job, she's happy to let Marvin bring in the big bucks. She seemed content to stay behind the scenes and fully support Marvin, and only after she was coaxed into it did she wind up taking her radio job. Would you say this is a positive trait of hers?
I wouldn't say that was a positive trait. I believe knowing what you want and going after your goal is a more positive trait, but sometimes a person doesn't know what they want they just know what they don't want. The radio job may have fell into her lap, but she discovered a natural talent that she didn't even know existed. I also feel that she was most complete with not only her newfound fame, but her role as a mother to her two sons and to Chloe, her step daughter, who was a true gift to Georgia.
Along the same lines, Georgia takes the high road throughout the book, standing by Marvin even when he's ragging on her on air and boasting about his affairs. Why does she put up with him for so long, and how would you react if you were in her shoes? Do you admire how she behaved or think she should have publicly railed against Marvin?
I think she stayed true to character. At times, I was very tempted to have her retaliate, but that wouldn't have been Georgia's style. As I have matured in my own life I have seen that good always prevails. I, like Georgia, believe in Karma and in the end, who was on top?
There's a point where her radio show producers are encouraging Georgia to get down and dirty on air in discussing Marvin, and she declines, and instead does the opposite, bringing educational messages and starting a cookie business on top of her radio gig. Do you think her success came from her staying "sweet" or could she have done better business-wise by fighting fire with fire?
I think it could have gone either way. Georgia would have surely had people tuning in if she had played Marvin's game and aired his dirty laundry. But I always think of Oprah when I measure success in the media. She delivers a message of discovering your passion and living your best life. At the end of the day, I think most people want to be uplifted.
The city of Detroit itself is as much a character as anyone else in the book. Why is it important to you to set your books in Detroit?
Detroit is the city I was born and raised in. It is the city that I spent thirty-one years of my life in. Even though I no longer live there, I feel a deep connection to it. I still have relatives in the city. My sister still lives there as do some very dear friends. That said, most of my next novel will not be based in Detroit.
Is there a message you hope readers take away from Sweet Georgia Brown?
The message I hope readers take away is that dreams don't have an age-limit or unique profile. Georgia was in her forties, married with children. She didn't know what she wanted to do just that she wanted to do something more than what she had been doing and she kept her mind open to the idea of exploring the possibility.
On your blog, you posted about a reader who wrote to you complaining about a statement Marvin's dad makes that Georgia should "stop acting like a white woman." I saw the comment more as a generational issue and something specific to the father; he didn't want his son and daughter-in-law and grandkids living in his house indefinitely, and this was his way of expressing that. You explored your reasons for the statement, and this brings me to the question of who your intended audience for the book is. Have you received different kinds of feedback from readers based on race or gender?
My intended audience is not specific to race. Although, I realize that my core audience have been black women. I write for everyone and I look for the day when books written by black authors will crossover the same way most books written by white authors have. I did not write that statement to offend white women. It was something that freely came out of the characters mouth and I really didn't think anyone would be offended. I have received feedback from readers mostly black and white and mostly female, but some men as well. And the reviews have been very positive.
I thought the book, and Georgia's journey, were just getting started as the book ended. Are there any plans for a sequel?
Yes I will get started on the sequel to Sweet Georgia Brown after I complete my next novel.
If Sweet Georgia Brown were turned into a movie, who would you want cast in the main roles?
I recently had a casting call contest on my blog. I think I would lean toward this post,
Georgia: Jill Scott
Marvin: Michael Beach
Chloe: Keke Palmer
Corliss: Taraji P. Henson
You self-published your first novel, Memories of Yesterday, before landing a literary agent and book deal with NAL. Is this a route you would recommend to other writers?
Yes, if you have the money and time to devote to self-publishing I recommend it. And do your research. I do not regret self-publishing, but I also welcomed the publishing contract because for me it was time.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring novelists or writers generally?
You may hear a lot of negative things about the business of publishing, particularly if you are African-American. You may hear that there are too many black authors and that publishing companies are getting more selective. That it will be harder for you to get a deal. Never give up on your dream. You might have a New York Times bestselling novel saved on your hard drive. Ask yourself, is the book good enough for you to invest your own money to publish it? If the answer is yes, that's excellent, because just in case you have to initially, as I did, you are already mentally prepared to do so.
The Sweet Georgia Brown book trailer:
Labels: books you should buy