Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name.

My name is Vida Cross.

Fiona: Where are you from?

I am from the south side of Chicago.

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

I have a BA in Creative Writing  and History from Knox College, a MA in English (Creative Writing) from Iowa State University, and a MFA in Filmmaking and a MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

My first book, Bronzeville at Night: 1949, was just released this year: April 2017.  This book is a collection of blues poems that are based on the artwork of Archibald J. Motley Jr.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing at a very young age: I would say at 8 or 9.  In my household books on black history and African American literature, were everywhere and I read some great poets (Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and more), and I felt inspired to write poetry.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?  

In high school I was the first fiction/poetry editor for a newspaper called New Expressions.  The Fiction/Poetry insert was called “Young Chicago.”  I was the editor for “Young Chicago.”  I felt like a writer then.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

I being interviewed for a position.  They wanted someone who could teach music, literature, and art.  However, they felt the subjects could not be combined and that no one could really do all three.  I went home and began writing Bronzeville at Night: 1949 in 2003.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?  

The title is based on a painting by Archibald J. Motley Jr.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

I am a blues poet.  My poems are narrative poems.  Many of the poems narrate a fictional character’s tale.  Some of the poems are rhythmic, some are humorous, and some are tragic.  As a whole, the poems have a narrative arc.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some of the poems, not all, have a small thread of truth.  Some are based on actual events that occurred in my grandparents lives.  My grandparents migrated from Mississippi to Chicago and they bought a home on 35th street in Bronzeville.  Later, they had to sell the home for Chicago’s first attempt at gentrifying that area.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

For this particular book I did not have to travel outside of the city.  I did a lot of research at the Chicago Public Library.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?  

The cover of the book is Archibald J. Motley Jr.’s painting Bronzeville at Night.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?  

Currently I have a reading list.  I am reading the following authors:

Dave Eggers’ The Circle

Natalie Y. Moore’s The South Side

Judith Michael’s The Real Mother

Donal Quist’s Harbors

David Olimpio’s This is Not A Confession

Audrey Petty’s High Rise Stories

Aaron Coleman’s St. Trigger

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

Anna Leahy’s Aperture


Rachel Hall’s Heirlooms

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

Mary Swander (a former instructor). Mary Swander is one of those writers who will start playing drums in order to write a poem.  What I mean by this is she goes that extra mile.  Her statements to me are very brief, but I watch her and pay attention to her and she’s fascinating.

Calvin Forbes my advisor and mentor from The School of the Art Institute.  Calvin will listen to any question I have about the writing process.  He tends to always have an answer, but if he doesn’t he will share thoughts that are enlightening.

Anna Leahy is a former classmate who will end every conversation with a reminder to write.

My husband is always a word of wisdom.  He is an IT person, but he’s very supportive and encouraging

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

Yes.  It is a career.  It is not a hobby.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Viola Davis and Denzel Washington

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?  

Keep writing.  It takes a long time so be patient.

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?


Fiona: What book are you reading now?

Robert Hellenga’s Blues Lessons.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

My mom bought books with our, me and my sisters’, names in the books.  We were the characters.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

Edward Jones.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?  

How to Get Away With Murder, The Americans, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Fiona: Favorite foods, colors,  music?  

Favorite Food: Potato Salad

Color: Green

Music: R&B

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

Website: https://www.vidacross.com/

Twitter: @vida_writing

Here are links to my book:

At Awst Press      https://awst-press.com/bronzeville

At Small Press Distributors  http://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9780997193848/bronzeville-at-night-1949.aspx

At Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Bronzeville-at-Night-Vida-Cross/dp/0997193840/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508189163&sr=1-8&keywords=bronzeville

And at the Chicago Public Library: https://chipublib.bibliocommons.com/search?t=author&search_category=author&q=vida+cross&_ga=2.192668842.1269429954.1508189311-1400504150.1470689664