(Kristi unfurls scroll, reads)
- NY Times Bestseller List
- No. 1 on the Essence Best Seller List
- Blackboard Book of the Year Award for fiction
- Merit Award for fiction from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association
- Go On Girl! Book Club Favorite New Author award
- Open Book Awards and many more. . .
Kristi: Welcome, Ladies. Please tell our readers what you’ve done to achieve so many awards?
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: Why thank you, Kristi. We wreck characters’ lives and put them back together for entertainment and (hopefully) profit. In other words—
Kristi: Wreck lives?! For Profit?
Virginia DeBerry: And entertainment–
Kristi: This is amazing! I’ve never interviewed Lady Hit-Men before.
Donna Grant: What? No, no—
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: Neither— we wreck characters’ lives, not real people. And we hit them where it counts: their ambition, bank account, politics and family secrets.
Kristi: (in her best wise guy voice) Excellent, I know some “characters” whose lives I’d like to wreck. How much do you charge?
Virginia DeBerry: How much are you willing to pay?
Donna Grant: (elbows Virginia) Hey—
Virginia DeBerry: Well it’s not like she’s asking us to really hurt anyone– no stalking, bullying, name calling or making them learn bad 70s dance moves…
Kristi: What’s wrong with 70s dance moves?
Virginia DeBerry: And we’d put them back together even better than before, having gained valuable life lessons. Just like in our novels—right?
Kristi: Naw, let ‘em pay for their own therapy. Is there a discount for NOT putting them back together?
Virginia DeBerry: What?!
Donna Grant: Stop it – both of you!
Kristi: OK, no discount, but–
Donna Grant: (to Virginia) This is exactly why I didn’t want to do this interview. She gets everything all twisted up.
Virginia DeBerry: Well…
Donna Grant: Kristi, look me in the eye and listen.
Virginia DeBerry: Uh-Oh. Her eyes look glazed over, and what’s that strange smile on her face?
Donna Grant: (shaking her head) She looks crazy, if you ask me.
Virginia DeBerry: Kristi – Nod if you can you hear us.
Kristi: (envisions laughing wickedly as her old math professor is forced to perform Stayin’ Alive from Saturday Night Fever)
Donna Grant: Listen, we only wreck lives in our seven novels, like WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU…
Virginia DeBerry: Which came out in paperback in January 2010.
Donna Grant: And our newest release, UPTOWN.
Virginia DeBerry: Which we just launched in March 2010. (whispers to Kristi) So if you need any ideas read those – you’ll do just fine without us.
Kristi: (whispers back) Thanks!
Virginia DeBerry: ONLY if you promise to guide them into an even better life than they had before. OK?
Kristi: Absolutely! So, Ladies, how long have you been writing together?
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: Our fledgling effort was published way back in the last decade of the 20th Century, or to be more exact 1990.
Kristi: (glazed smile) Twenty years of wrecking lives–that’s what I call a Liaison Dangereuse. What do you like most about it?
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: Creating something—a story—out of nothing using imagination, life experience, and all that stuff we went to school for.
Kristi: Like how to make a volcano out of baking soda?
Virginia DeBerry: No, I meant the ability to create on multiple levels at once, and the ability to make stuff up that sounds plausible.
Kristi: Exactly! Like when Mom’s kitchen was a mess after the volcano exploded. I learned that saying aliens did it was not plausible. So I blamed it on my brother.
Donna Grant: Fortunately we have found a use for this talent which does not start wars or harm others.
Kristi: Interesting concept. Did you develop your ‘harm-free’ story telling talent on the job or did you come by it naturally?
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: We both feel we were born this way. We both read everything in our paths, from cereal boxes to Dostoyevsky since we can remember.
Kristi: (grumbles) Mom never gave me any cereal boxes written by Dostoyevsky…
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: And we both love a well told tale. We both love words–we have been known to entertain ourselves getting lost in the dictionary, and have used our favourite thesaurus until the cover fell off. We replaced it with a homemade one featuring a picture of a grizzly bear.
Kristi: Where did you work immediately before you began destroying thesauruses?
Virginia DeBerry: Anywhere that would have me—I was a temp.
Donna Grant: I was a plus size model with the 12+ division of Ford Modelling Agency.
Kristi: Did this lead directly into writing novels together?
Virginia DeBerry: No, I have no idea how I ended up here, except that I kept walking through open doors and jumping off cliffs–
Kristi: At least the doors were open, but you could’ve gotten hurt on those cliffs.
Virginia DeBerry: I meant most of my jobs did not lead directly to the next one. It’s probably some kind of cosmic joke that I’ll never get!
Donna Grant: (giggles to Virginia) Just like this interview.
Kristi: And Donna?
Donna Grant: My first job was as a claims adjuster at Bloomingdales, part time during college. After that I was in advertising sales at the NY Daily News. I finished college while I was there and my co-workers dared me to try the modelling thing, which was brand new at the time. That’s when I fell down the rabbit hole.
Kristi: Ah-Ha! So it must be your dangerous tendency to fall down holes and jump off cliffs that drew you together, thus forming your Liaison Dangereuse.
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: No.
Kristi: Darn. Then how did you meet?
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: Through fashion.
Kristi: That doesn’t sound very dangerous.
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: We worked together on a newsletter we created for Hanes Hosiery, which led to the opportunity to be founding editors of a plus size fashion and lifestyle magazine called Maxima. When the funding dried up, we decided we had to keep working together. That’s when we started writing novels.
Kristi: I see! You’re masters—sorry mistresses—
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: Excuse me?!
Kristi: In the finest sense of the word—of taking potential disaster and turning it into success!
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant: (stunned Kristi finally said something that makes sense) By George, she’s got it!
Kristi: Lastly, what life experience or valuable lessons have you gained from your glamorously tangled past?
Virginia DeBerry: I benefitted from all my jobs but teaching stands out because I learned to deal with all kinds of people. (smiles politely at Kristi) This prepared me for pretty much everything else I’ve done. And from modelling, I learned how to make myself look better than I actually do which comes in very handy.
Donna Grant: I feel that you learn something every day you’re breathing if you pay attention. (notes Kristi is staring into space again) From the Daily News I learned how to think on the fly and got a really good grasp of the meaning of a deadline. From modelling, I learned that I could become good at something I never dreamed I could do.
Kristi: Thank you very much for sharing your lives’ paths with us, and as always, Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant, Thank You For Playing!!