It's been eight years since Connie Briscoe debuted on the literary scene with her best-selling novel Sisters and Lovers. Since then, she has penned Big Girls Don't Cry and delved into historical fiction with A Long Way Home. Briscoe makes her highly anticipated return to the relationship novel with a new publisher, Doubleday, and a new novel, P.G. County.
BIBR: P.G. County marks your return to the relationship fiction. Do you plan to write more historical fiction like A Long Way Home? And are there risks involved in switching genres?
CB: There's a risk with every novel that you write. I always have my moments--the fear that no one will want to read what I've written--regardless of the genre. That's why I write whatever is in my heart and mind at the time, so that I'll at least have enjoyed writing it regardless of what others think. Of course, it's always a big thrill when others like your work, but there are other reasons for writing. I chose to write P.G. County because I needed a departure from writing about slavery, the subject of my last novel. I wanted to work on something that would be fun, lighthearted and entertaining for my readers and me.
BIBR: You painted vivid pictures of truly complex characters in P.G. County. Bradford, the vain and powerful; Barbara, constantly dancing on a tightrope; Jolene, who takes social climbing to new heights (or perhaps, depths) in an effort to fulfill her need for attention, love and power. Which character did you have the most fun crafting?
CB: Jolene was definitely a lot of fun. She's sneaky, bitchy, greedy, and a big flirt, but also a devoted mom to her only daughter. She goes after what she wants and she wants it all. Jolene allowed me to step completely out of my own character--there were no limits with her. I also enjoyed working Bradford--sort of the male equivalent of Jolene.
BIBR: African Americans seem to readily accept the idea of racially mixed ancestry, particularly in light of our history. But Candice nearly loses here mind and her family with the discovery of black blood in her family tree. How realistic do you think your portrayal was of her character?
CB: Most African Americans have non-black ancestors in their family line and we grow up knowing it. So it's not a huge shock to us to learn that our great-great granddaddy was a white slave owner. I can remember when my mother told me. It can be disappointing perhaps, but it doesn't change who we are or how we're labeled or seen in...