Q & A for Tina McElroy Ansa for Bronze Thrills Magazine - Part Two
Q. How do you feel about your contribution to African-American literature thus far? Please explain.
A. When I was little, I was always that girl who knew that she wanted to spend her life telling stories. I grew up in Macon, Georgia, a mid-sized town in the South, in the 1950s and 1960s, surrounded by and African-American culture that respected reading, writing, stories and storytelling.
My grandfather told us ghost stories before we went to sleep. The folks who came to my father’s juke joints told me the stories of their lives. My great aunt Elizabeth Lee, a good Christian woman, told us morality tales to keep us on the straight and narrow. Even my mother gossiping on the phone to her friends seemed to my little ears to be fascinating and imaginative stories.
I grew up at a time when the written word was respected and appreciated by black folks. In my household, books were everywhere, and everyone was always reading different books that interested them: love stories, Westerns, adventures, contemporary fiction. I grew up hearing my family say, “Oh, you know, Tina’s going to be a writer” because I had expressed interest in writing and telling stories.
I feel my greatest contribution to African-American literature thus far is that I have done exactly what I have wanted to do: tell stories.
For the past 35 years, I have published four novels (I’m working my 5th and 6th novels now.), written for newspapers and magazines, created a writers retreat for emerging and established writers, and traveled the country reading from my work, lecturing and teaching. My respect for the written word, especially the stories that spring from my African-American heritage, culture, and family and my support of other writers also constitute what I feel is my greatest contribution to African-American literature.