Intimate Conversation with Bernard L. Dillard
Bernard L. Dillard is an associate professor at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. He graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in English. The author of two text books, he is more known for his book, Lemonade: Inspired by Actual Events, which won first place in Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Award (2013) in the memoir category.
He is also the author of Two ‘Til Midnight, this controversial novel is a soap-operatic dramedy, whereby the author tackles sensitive material against the backdrop of a Trumpian society. Select topics include race, diversity, tolerance, terrorism, sexuality, and faith.
Bernard L. Dillard has enjoyed a few acting stints (“The Wire” and “West Wing”) and several modeling assignments (Sean John). More information can be found at his website: http://bernarddillard.com.
BPM: Please, share something our readers wouldn’t know about you.
Dillard: I had an acting role on “The Wire” (filmed in Baltimore).
BPM: Is writing your full-time career? How much time do you spend writing?
Dillard: No. I am a math professor. On average, I probably spend about an hour a week writing.
BPM: Tell us about your first published book. What was the journey like?
Dillard: My first published book is titled Lemonade: Inspired by Actual Events. I was a self-published author, so there was a lot of on-the-job training, a lot of pain. I had to learn to fight for my native files once the book was formatted. They did not want to give me the original files, but I won the battle and got them.
BPM: Introduce us to your most recent work, Two ‘Til Midnight: A Novel. Available on Nook and Kindle?
Dillard: My most recent work is Two ‘Til Midnight. It is my first novel and took 6 years to write, on and off. I had to squeeze it in before “normal” working hours. It is only available in print now but will be available as an eBook around December 2019.
More about Two ‘Til Midnight: A Novel and the characters:
At the center of a fierce, fiery, and invisible battle is Dr. Garnet Gibbs, a history professor, who is considered to be both a guidepost for and a mystery to many on the job. After hours, she often finds herself caught in a vortex of drama surrounding her family, associates, and friends.
Although she tries to offer support as best she can, the shenanigans of all involved may prove to be too much for her, especially given the potpourri of players in her world, including: Jamay, her adopted daughter; R.J., her grandson, whose father is facing challenges as he serves overseas; Kemal and Manuela, a kinky church couple; Tario, a Que Dog, whose frivolity and wry wit lead to his nail-biting confrontation with death, igniting a spirited rally in the city.
Then there’s Nieko, a gay gentleman, who is rethinking his sexuality but whose ex-boyfriend is making it tough; Rusty, an avowed redneck, who makes a shocking decision since he believes President Trump is taking too long to do something about the current state of affairs; and Celeste, her what-comes-up-comes-out co-worker, who has a knack for catching people off guard with her uncanny sense of humor. Critical interactions reveal key life lessons, but not all interchanges end on an upswing.
Set in modern times, Two ’Til Midnight is a soap-operatic dramedy that presents two distinct and separate worlds that thrive together, both influencing the other in their own unique way. Ultimately, their coexistence produces a jaw-dropping ending that no one sees coming. Something’s brewing. Someone’s watching. And time is running out! Midnight is fast approaching. What will go down when the clock strikes twelve?!
BPM: Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Dillard: One of the interesting parts of the book occurs when a white cop is speaking with his wife and struggling with the actions of his fellow white coworker as it relates to race. It shows the complexity of the race discussion that may exist within the white community. This part of the novel explores how some non-complicit whites may deal with racist situations when their white colleagues are not acting appropriately.
BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Dillard: Yes, that writing is a very cathartic process for me.
BPM: Is there a specific place/space/state that you find inspiration in?
Dillard: I like writing early in the morning, before most people get up. I joke and tell people I give the rooster his wake-up call.
BPM: When developing a new book, what comes first, the plot or characters?
Dillard: For me, the plot generally comes first. I know what I want to get across and develop characters to make the plots a reality.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot-driven or character-driven?
Dillard: Many of my book ideas come from casually observing. From sitting in meetings to riding on the train, ideas are birthed from anywhere for me. My books are generally plot driven, although characters may experience types of evolution (or not).
BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing and developing the characters for this book?
Dillard: I always love developing characters who provide some sense of comic relief. Because of the gravity of some of the plots, it’s always good to lighten up and laugh a bit.
BPM: Is writing easy for you? Do you feel lonely being a writer during the creative process?
Dillard: Writing is very much my happy place. I don’t feel lonely at all when doing so. Other than the gym, it’s the place I go to recharge and energize. It’s relatively easy for me, though I have some moments when I may struggle to get some ideas out.
BPM: Tell us a little about your creative process. Do you use a computer or write out the story by hand?
Dillard: I may jot initial ideas down on paper (or a napkin), but I use my laptop to do most of the fleshing out of the details.
BPM: When you’re writing an emotionally draining scene, how do you get in the mood?
Dillard: I just go there. I literally put myself in the characters’ position and bar no holds. If I am writing through the eyes of a racist, I have no problems calling somebody a “nigger” because that’s just what some of them do. Afterwards, while reading it, I may feel a little sad that I had to write it, but I try to stay true to how I think the character would have said it.
BPM: Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips self-care for creative folks?
Dillard: Find a small healthy diversion. Run. Swim. Go for a walk. Get a massage. Watch Game of Thrones. Do something to give your mind the much-needed break it deserves after struggling through with the writing process.
BPM: How do you personally deal with emotional impact of a book as you are writing the story?
Dillard: I run a lot to clear my mind. Running helps me escape.
BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book, Two ‘Til Midnight: A Novel?
Dillard: Yes, my current novel addresses the struggle of Nieko, a gay gentleman. Often, stories are written about people who think they may be gay. Nieko’s situation is the opposite. He is not satisfied with being gay and thinks he may be happier by giving up that lifestyle. I also try to explore life as a serviceman/servicewoman. There’s always room to feature life in the barracks and get a look at how those in the military are dealing with their reality.
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
Dillard: As a more less radical Christian, I sometimes struggle (like Garnet does) with other, more radical Christians. In the chapter titled “Right vs. Right,” I tried to capture the tension that occurs between two groups of Christians who think their perspective on life is the right one. Both use scripture to back up their positions and both feel that they are “right.”
BPM: What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
Dillard: The biggest challenge was making sure the storyline remained seamless when I took months off from writing. I had to go back and read what I wrote and make sure to keep the same train of thought as if I hadn’t taken a break from writing.
BPM: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
Dillard: A lot of the people were in my professional circle already. I adapted some of the characters’ actions based on things I witnessed. Other times, my international travel provided a sense of globalism that I tried to express while writing about troops.
BPM: How has writing impacted your life?
Dillard: It often provides a sense of therapy for me. It is what I do when I need to relax.
BPM: What does literary success look like to you?
Dillard: If I hear that someone really enjoyed a book I wrote, it’s satisfying. It’s like cooking. It always tastes good to you, but whether someone else likes it is another thing.
BPM: What are the 3 most effective tools for sharing your book with the world?
Dillard: Word of mouth, social media and book marks.
BPM: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Dillard: The Bible and Frank Peretti.
BPM: What are your 3 favorite forms of entertainment?
Dillard: Broadway shows, independent films and baseball games.
BPM: What was your favorite part and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?
Dillard: I like the feeling of holing the finished product in my hands. I am not particularly a fan of the challenge with language when dealing with freelancers who are designing my cover or doing my website. It’s hard to explain to them in a way they understand, especially since the only interaction is via email.
BPM: Do you have anything special for readers that you’ll focus on this year?
Dillard: No, I’m just resting from pushing hard to get this novel out to the world.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Dillard: They can discover all things related to me at www.bernarddillard.com. It presents me in all of my forms, not just as an author. I have an author page on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00AGP43UW.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bl_dillard @bl_dillard
Cinematic Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/329722801