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. What is your age?
Dennis Ward- Age 64
Fiona: Where are you from?
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was born and raised in Michigan. I attended the University of South Florida in Tampa. I worked in medical and computers in Atlanta, and I have been writing plays and books since living in Louisiana.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
In 2017, I had a play produced called Finding Nelson Mandela, and the University of Louisiana Press published my books, Mademoiselle Gigi, and the sequel, Madame Gigi.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I love writing for the stage, seeing your words interpreted by actors and the director. Prose is second to the stage but I love writing fiction.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After my first play won an award at the New Orleans Saints and Sinners Festival in 2011.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I wanted to pay tribute to the life of my late friend, Gigi. She was a holocaust survivor and in the 1960s-1970s she was the owner of a gay nightclub called Chez Gisèle.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Mademoiselle Gigi was a young unmarried lady during the war.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Since I was a visual artist for many years, I paint the scenes of my book with an abundance of detail.. My readers say that it’s like being there with the characters.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My two-book Gigi Series, Mademoiselle Gigi and Madame Gigi, is based on the life of my late French friend, Gisèle “Gigi” Carriton, living her epic life story in France and America.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Gigi’s son, Ricardo Johnson, designed the first book and UL Press designed the second book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The books reveal a very different time for women, 1940-1972. The series is primarily a woman’s story of survival. Gigi survived many difficult times in her life, but always gave tremendous unconditional love and humour to the end of her life.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I read a wide array of fiction. I love the prose of the late Maeve Binchy. She mines human emotions brilliantly. I also love the prose of Junot Diaz. He captures the living, breathing pulse of Hispanic culture in the US.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
University of Louisiana Press invested in my books and have been very good to me, supporting my writing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, Gigi’s friends and family gave me tremendous support and many fascinating stories.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
The brilliant French actress, Marion Cotillard, would be an excellent in the role of Gigi.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Enjoy the process. Money and fame are secondary to having passion for writing and telling a great story.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Don’t write if you expect great amounts of money.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Barbera Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Boxcar Children.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Maeve Binchy. I’m a sucker for the Irish voice.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Zydeco dancing, learning languages
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Historical dramas set in the twentieth century.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Indian cuisine, jewel tones, blues, jazz, R & B, and zydeco
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He was very kind-hearted.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
About the Author
After many years of varying careers from respiratory therapist, computer systems engineer, art gallery owner, and ceramic potter, I sometimes felt my working life was an all you can eat buffet. One day I was honest enough to accept I was more in tune with the writer’s way of life. A decision I’ve never regretted.
I tend to write stories that are intimate and from the heart. My late friend, Gisèle “Gigi” Carriton, inspired me to write my first play, which was a juried entry in the Hub City Theater Festival in 2008. I wrote the first version of Chez Gisèle, a one-act play, after I interviewed Gigi five months before she passed away. The play was my love letter to her. I rewrote the play into a full-length, drag-musical, comedy noir play that premiered at the Cité des Arts Theater in May 2010. It was a hit with Lafayette audiences, selling out nine shows during its first three-week run. It was during the production that I learned of Gigi’s Jewish heritage and the horrors she and her family experienced during the holocaust. She rarely talked about her life during the war. I think it remained painful for her to the end of her life. In 2011, I entered the play in theNew Orleans Saints and Sinners Theater Festival and it garnered a finalist position. It was also nominated for Best Musical Comedy at Lafayette’s Rosie Awards in 2014.
Since writing my first stage play, Chez Gisèle, I’ve been busy writing two novels following Gigi’s epic life story,Mademoiselle Gigi, and the sequel, Madame Gigi, two alternating stories of Gigi’s early life in America from 1946 to 1972. San Souci Books, the fiction imprint of the University of Louisiana Press, has published, Mademoiselle Gigi and Madame Gigi, which were releasedin August 2017.
For the stage, I’ve written and had produced three more full-length plays since 2010. The Roadkill Diner in 2011, a musical comedy, Big Daddy’s Last Dance in 2016, a comedy, and Finding Nelson Mandela, a comedy-drama, which was produced at the Cité des Arts Theater in August and September 2017. In addition, I’ve published numerous short stories and novel excerpts in Grey Wolf Publishing’s short story collection anthology, Legends. Also my stories have appeared in Deep South Magazine, and the University of Louisiana’s Southwest Review. I am truly humbled by readers and theater patrons who are following my books and plays. I sincerely hope my writing will be read and enjoyed by future generations.
To learn more about my news, publications, contact me, and read excerpts of my books, plays, and stories, visit my website/blog, Writer’s Hat, at http://denniswardauthor.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/DennisWard.author/?hc_ref=ARQCs4cDe80SN6PV0-esiMqtxd3pDrSOnl1S5d77oBtE2DIqCV-dUsOqqZxEdBVNg_4&fref=nf