Wendy Coakley-Thompson is the author of Back to Life (2004 Romantic Times Award nominee) and What You Won’t Do For Love (optioned for cable television). She is also a contributing editor of the anthology How We Love: Letters and Lessons for the Next Generation. She has written for music and fashion/lifestyle magazines in both New Jersey and The Bahamas. Coakley-Thompson co-hosted The Book Squad and earned an Associated Press/Chesapeake Award for her work as a commentator for Metro Connection on WAMU, a Washington D.C. National Public Radio affiliate. For more, visit her at www.wendycoakley-thompson.com, on MySpace, and on Facebook.
Richardson: Hi Wendy! Thank you for chatting with me. I have some questions for you. I am quite curious to know how deal, or dealt, or dealing with rejections?
Thompson: I CONFESS; I DON'T DEAL WITH REJECTION VERY WELL. I DO TAKE IT PERSONALLY AT FIRST. HOWEVER, I COME BACK TO THE REJECTION LETTER AND MINE IT FOR ANY CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. IF SUCH CRITICISM EXISTS, AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT I THINK I CAN TAKE ON BOARD, I DO. A LOT OF REJECTION LETTERS, THOUGH, ARE SO VAGUE THAT THEY HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER. I JUST TAKE THEM AS SOMETHING THAT AUTHORS MUST ENDURE.
Richardson: Wendy, there are those who just know that they are called for a specific purpose in life. How did you know you were called to be an author?
Thompson: I WAS ELEVEN YEARS OLD WHEN I REALIZED THAT WRITING WAS SOMETHING THAT I WAS GOOD AT DOING. I GREW UP ON AN ISLAND THAT WAS SEVEN BY TWENTY-ONE MILES IN THE BAHAMAS. THE ENTERTAINMENT THAT KIDS TAKE FOR GRANTED NOW WAS PRACTICALLY NONEXISTENT IN THE BAHAMAS WHEN I WAS A CHILD. SO, I READ A LOT AND SOON REALIZED THAT I COULD TELL STORIES THAT WERE JUST AS GOOD AS THOSE I WAS READING. WRITING WAS A GREAT FORM OF ESCAPE. IT ALSO GAVE ME A SENSE OF POWER, AS I HAD THE ABILITY TO CREATE AND CONTROL UNIVERSES. I WAS HOOKED!
Richardson: Are there some myths about being an published author?
Thompson: THE BIGGEST MYTH ABOUT BEING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR IS THAT THE MINUTE YOU SIGN A BOOK DEAL, YOU'LL BE ABLE TO QUIT YOUR DEAD-END JOB AND WRITE FULL-TIME. WHEN I TELL PEOPLE THAT I HAVE A DAY JOB, JUST LIKE THEY DO, THEY EXCLAIM, "BUT YOU'VE PUBLISHED THREE BOOKS!" THE OTHER BIG MYTH THAT I ENCOUNTER IS THE MYTH THAT ONCE YOU'VE SCORED A BOOK DEAL, YOU CAN PUT YOUR FEET UP. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. IF ANYTHING, THAT'S WHEN THE HUSTLING BEGINS, BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO SELL THAT BOOK AND EARN OUT ANY ADVANCE THE PUBLISHER GAVE YOU BEFORE YOU SEE ANY RETURNS -- MONETARY OR OTHERWISE. PEOPLE ALSO FORGET THAT PUBLISHING IS A BUSINESS. YES, THE INDUSTRY TRAFFICS IN FANTASIES AND DREAMS, BUT THOSE IN THE INDUSTRY ARE CONCERNED FIRST AND FOREMOST ABOUT THE BOTTOM LINE. THE SOONER NOVICE AUTHORS REALIZE ALL OF THESE THINGS, THE BETTER THEY'LL BE ABLE TO MANAGE THEIR EXPECTATIONS OF A WRITING CAREER.
Richardson: Is there a difference between being a gifted or talented author/writer? Thompson: I DON'T KNOW IF THERE'S A DIFFERENCE, REALLY. I DO BELIEVE, THOUGH, THAT IT'S LIKE SINGING. I KNOW SO MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE AWESOME SINGERS, BUT YOU NEVER HEAR THEM ON THE RADIO. IN THE SAME VEIN, THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO CAN WRITE WELL, BUT YOU'LL NEVER SEE THEM IN THE BOOKSTORES. PERHAPS THEY USE THEIR TALENTS OR GIFT FOR THEIR OWN EDIFICATION, NOT FOR SHARING WITH THE PUBLIC AT LARGE. STILL, THOUGH, I THINK THAT WRITING IS A CRAFT. NO MATTER HOW GIFTED AND TALENTED YOU ARE, IF YOU DON'T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT GIFT FROM GOD, JUST LIKE IN THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS, IT'LL DISAPPEAR.
Richardson: Wendy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. I am looking forward to your next project, hearing great things about it. Keep aspiring!