Q & A for Tina McElroy Ansa for Bronze Thrills Magazine - Part One
Q. How did you get started working behind the scenes in the literary industry? (Such as your mid-wife mentoring service; and your Georgia writing workshop excursions).
A. I began my writing career as a journalist at The Atlanta Constitution, the morning newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia. This was back in the 1970s. Although I was a journalist, I always knew that I wanted to write fiction: stories of my family, black folks in the South. I published my first novel, BABY OF THE FAMILY, in 1989. And since then, I have published three more novels (UGLY WAYS, THE HAND I FAN WITH and YOU KNOW BETTER) as well as book reviews, essays, magazine articles, and op-ed pieces. But in the back of my head and in my heart, I knew that I also wanted to do more in the field of literature. One of those things was to start a retreat for emerging and established writers in the Georgia Sea Islands where I have lived for the last 20 years.
The Sea Islands off the coast of the Southern United States are the repository of so much of African-American history and culture. I knew this would be a great place to offer workshops, discussions and sharing about creating black literature. I wanted to offer a safe place for writers who had never been published to interact with established writers and new writers like themselves to sharpen their craft, share their work and improve their writing.
I thought about this endeavor for more than a decade before founding The Sea Island Writers Retreats in the fall of 2004. This year, 2006, we have decided in addition to the Writers Retreats held on the Sea Islands in the fall, to take the Sea Island Writers Retreats on the road to cities across the country where we can reach even more writers who cannot make the trip South.
To find out more about the retreat and if you’re interested in us bringing the Sea Island Writers Retreats to your city or area, go to my website www.tinamcelroyansa.com and fill out the registration or interest form.
Another project that grew from the Writers Retreat is my Midwife/Mentoring Services. While conducting workshops at the retreats, I discovered how helpful it is for emerging writers to have a brief session with an established writer, editing and discussing their work. I started these sessions with members of my staff who are writing novels and memoirs and was amazed at how much progress they made after a half-hour or hour session on the phone with me.
So I thought, why don’t I offer this service to other emerging writers who are serious about their work? I offer this service as my time permits. And I’ve discovered and helped some wonderfully talented writers.
You know, everyone in the world should not be writing a book. But for those who should be, some guidance is usually needed.
You can find out more about this service and sign up for it if you are interested at my website www.tinamcelroyansa.com