Friday, March 14, 2008

Louisiana Saturday Night

Haiti is located in the Caribbean on the western part of the island of Hispaniola. The name Haiti actually means mountainous land. The population of Haiti is approximately 5,054,000.

In 1975, my husband and his mom traveled to Haiti. They went for two different reasons. His mom wanted to meet up with some missionaries she'd supported for years. She had never been on a mission trip but worked in the background sending clothing, Bibles and money. Her heart was missions.

My husband Jim was curious about Haiti because of dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier taking power in 1957. Jim has always been an avid reader of history. By the time he and his mom traveled to Haiti, the country was being ruled by the dictator's son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. All this to say, listening to Jim's anecdotes about his time in Haiti was what drew me to the book, Young Ladies of Good Family by Anne Marie du Bois de Chene. Here's my interview with the author.

What is the name of your book and what's it about?
Young Ladies of Good Family is 25 chapters of short stories based on true events in the lives of 3 generations of my family; a rare white Haitian family.

How did you come up with your subject?
My mother made me promise to try to write a book about "this crazy island and family. People don't believe our stories, but maybe if you write them in a book they finally will!" She loved the way I wrote.

She unfortunately died before I got it written and published. I started writing it after her death, in her memory, as we had a great distance between us during the last 8 years of her life, and she died a month before we were to finally reunite. I loved her to pieces but she kept hurting me with words, so I was afraid to hurt her back.

What made you choose to self-publish when you know very few editors and agents (even other authors) have respect for a self-pubbed author.
I self published to keep my promise to my mother. Plus, I intend on finding a way to become a bestselling author, in order to afford to send money to Haiti for education and reforestation; perhaps in my mother and father's names?

When a self publishing agency finally offered to publish my book for an affordable price, my husabnd told me to do it.

How long have you been writing and what is your writing process?
I have always loved to write, but I truly started writing a great deal when I left home to go to college, see Europe, and work on ships. I'd write home to share my exciting, hilarious, and sometimes unbelievable experiences and adventures! My mother loved the 'books' I sent her home, and shared them with many.

How does your Louisiana heritage influence your writing?
Living here has inspired me in my writing. I would look out my bedroom window and be delighted with the sight of an egret walking by, like a snob wearing a too tight corset! Whenever I felt tired, friends and acquaintances would encourage me on, telling me that I could "do it, and would find a publisher; even if I had to pay for it myself, I would eventually find one I could afford".

I graduated from Loyola in New Orleans, having chosen Louisiana for the similarities in our heritages of French colonial days, and Caribbean, even Haitian influences - in the food, language, and religion. I felt at home away from home.

What is your background?
Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, of an American mother and German-French- Haitian father. Like my main character, I first left home to see the world at two years of age, but was thankfully found and returned. I left again at 19 and never stopped leaving at the first chance I got, to see more of the world.

What are the biggest surprises you've encountered as a writer?
The difficulty in finding a literary agent or publisher. It is a nightmarish Catch 22; they are interested in known and successfully published author; while one cannot become one without getting published!

The huge cost of self publishing; unless one finds a newer, affordable self publising agency.

The tremendous costs of advertising one's book; which is one blood, sweat, and tears. To reach, like Oprah, and other super 'door openers' appears impossible; one meets brick walls.

But, I'm very determined, and I keep digging away. I will find my celebrity(ies) to tell the world to buy my book!

What's the best advice you were given about writing?
Never give up; write like you speak, use your own words and style, and keep on truckin!

What is your proudest writer moment?
The moment I saw it published, in full color cover, and my title and name on it; I may have shed a tear.

What is your favorite self-marketing idea? Is marketing a challenge for you or are you a natural?
My idea to send my own self written and designed press release to friends and family, to forward to everybody they know; result? Over 100 books sold by myself! Invest in buying at least 100 of your books yourself, to sell when someone wants one, and to make a far larger profit.

Then send out a second Press Release including reviews from readers, with their permission, of course! Add it to your publisher's website, and your own, if you have one.

What have you learned about yourself in this writing process?
That my Mom was right; I am a good writer, and people really love being able to experience my family's crazy adventures in the safety of their couch or chair. Plus, I have learned that perseverance pays!

What kind of support staff do you have? And who helps prop you up when you're in need of some props.
My husband, Peter, plus friends and family and even strangers! In Luoisiana, everybody cares!

What was the last book you read and why did you read it?
I don't remember. My favorite one was "Don't stop the Carnaval" by Herman Wouk; hilarious in it's island life similarities, which is why I chose it. I used to read a book or two a week, until I began working on my book, which took up all my time. The my job exhaust me, so I content myself with magazine short stories.

What's your best advice for writers who are considering self-publishing?
Remember that you will have to prove yourself to be a true writer. I have entered contests, and will continue to do so, in the hope of winning; such honorable alcolades should help prove that you/we are worthy of publication, and of becoming best sellers!

What are your goals for your future as a writer?
First I wish to concentrate on getting Young Ladies of Good Family noticed, acclaimed, and in as many reader customers hands as possible. Every teenager should read this book; it will open their eyes to a whole other world, and teach them positive thinking, perseverance, and gratitude for what they have; plus let them know that they can obtain what they do not now have, and need or wish, no matter what their past is; they can decide their future, just like little Annie did since she was 2 years old.

Next I plan on writing about Annie's adventures after those on ships! Some experiences were so traumatizing, I have had to heal before I can bring myself to put them down on paper.

WRAP-UP: Give us websight, blogsite and tell us what you're working on now & how can we purchase your books:

For a sample reading, to purchase, and learn more, visit or

I am now working on introducing "Young Ladies of Good Family" to over 1 million readers by advertising it in the South Florida Sun Sentinel Lifestyle on March 16!

EDITORS/ MEDIA: For review copies or interview requests, contact: Promotional Services Department; Email: When requesting a review copy, please provide a street address.

A Note From The Author: Haiti's population is unofficially over 10 million; officially over 8 million that were found to be counted in 2007.


Erica Vetsch said...

You know an amazingly eclectic group of authors, Jess. I love reading these interviews. My church supported missionaries in Haiti for years. Perhaps they were the same ones your husband and MIL went to see. :)

cballan said...

Great interview. I admire the writer's persistence.