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Interview with Melda Beaty, author of Lime

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Tell us about Lime

Lime centers on the life of Lime Prince, a green-eyed international supermodel of mixed Jamaican-Ethiopian heritage who lands the cover of Vogue and becomes the new face of haute couture. Though she takes the New York fashion world by storm, her sordid, violent past comes back to haunt her. Lime traces back to her painful coming of age in England and America while trying to break into modeling. As a child, Lime is abused and abandoned by her Ethiopian mother and forced to live with her Ethiopian grandparents, but finally rescued by her half-Jamaican father. She finds a modeling agent who siphons off her profits and is later coerced into a sex scandal by her ex-husband, a Jamaican trumpet player.

Amidst the nonstop pressure of the fashion world and the painful memories of her upbringing, her one solace is her witty, no-nonsense best friend AJ. Yet AJ too becomes the victim of an atrocious act of violence committed by her ultra-possessive boyfriend. To respond to her friend’s victimization, Lime organizes an unprecedented national crusade to bring public attention to the innumerable acts of violence committed against women.

What genre is it?
Women’s contemporary fiction.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
Primary readers: 18-34 women Secondary readers: 34+ women (professional, independent, college educated, fashion and social media conscious).

Social commentary is obviously very important to you. What messages are you hoping readers will take away with them?
Beauty is truly an internal quality and no matter how much of it you possess on the outside, it doesn’t matter when you are a victim of abuse. I want readers to re-evaluate their fantasies of beauty and the profile of women who are abused. Many professional, independent, financially secure, educated, and spiritual women all over the world are victims of domestic violence.

In many ways, to be a black woman in today’s America is to be disadvantaged twice over. Are the injustices Lime experiences more a Black story or a female story?
The messages are for women in general. The protagonist, Lime, is half-Ethiopian and Jamaican. She is as diverse as her modeling experiences and the women who she encounters through her campaign against domestic violence. The other women in the book are from all ethnicities, social economic backgrounds, states, countries, etc. However, their common denominator is abuse.

How long did it take to write?
Seven years.

What was the most challenging part of your creative process?
Marriage, children, divorce, foreclosure, court battles, living in a space with five people that was only designed for two….yet, Lime kept developing in my mind, despite life’s upheaval. I made the decision to honor the story in the midst of every creative disruption.

That’s admirable. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an author, playwright, English lecturer, and writing consultant, who resides in Chicago, Illinois with my three gifted and beautiful daughters. Lime is my debut novel and is being hailed as “America’s Next Top Model meets Burning Bed”. It is the first book to explore notions of beauty against the horrors of domestic violence.

In addition to Lime, I am also the author/editor of a diverse and cathartic compilation of non-fiction writings by black women from across the United States. My Soul To His Spirit: Soulful Expressions From Black Daughters To Their Fathers won the 2006 National Fresh Voices Award. I’ve published articles on minority student recruitment and retention in Black Issues in Higher Education, Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education, In Search of Fatherhood Forum and Proud Parent Journal.

These writing opportunities led to an invitation to pen several short stories and poems for the Educational Testing Service for the California Achievement Test. My current play, Front Porch Society, delves into the complex lives of four elderly black women in rural Mississippi Delta on the eve of the 2008 presidential election.

I earned a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a M.A. in Writing at Illinois State University. Currently, I teach college Composition at South University. I’m also a college writing specialist for Chicago Public Schools through my consulting business, College Bound Consulting.

When I’m not writing, I thoroughly enjoy cardio and strength training, cycling, swimming, the theater, concerts, reading, and listening to NPR.

You’ve obviously made it through the storm in your own life; is there light at the end of the tunnel for Lime?
I hope so. Her fantasy life becomes reality real quick and she must make some serious decisions about modeling in light of her discovery of the atrocities being committed against African women. The good news is Lime is an intelligent woman with a maturity beyond her years and beauty.

So there’s a message of hope in the book?
Absolutely! A young girl who grows up without a loving mother, marries young, divorces soon, and is thrust into a life not of her choosing, can make a powerful and significant impact on society.  

Have you got a blog where readers can keep up with your work?
Yes, http://meldacreates.com/blog/. Please feel free to follow my thoughts from time to time.
Twitter: @meldacreates
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MeldaCreates.

And where can we buy Lime?
On my website and Amazon ( US , UK )

What’s next?
The sequel to Lime and my stageplay Front Porch Society.

Can you tell us anything about the sequel?
When I last left Lime Prince, she was on a plane headed for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has more work to do and more experiences to share, and she wants all readers to meet her there.

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