Lauren Wilson is a safety consultant who is occasionally visited by a muse that allows her to write amazing stories. It only happens a few times a year, but it is a wondrous experience. The rest of the time, Lauren evaluates the safety of manufacturing equipment being sent to Europe. The machines are often the size of a room, so she travels frequently.
In her spare time, she is a voracious reader of sci-fi alien encounters, UK historical mysteries, and stories about vampires and werewolves. She’s an online spades player and has a 5-story apartment building dollhouse project that she figures will take her another 10 years to complete. One of their favorite things to do is to drive 4 hours into the Pocono Mountains in PA and visit the Cove Haven couples resort. It’s a long way to go in order to play air hockey, but it’s worth it.
Lauren and her husband, Howard love watching stand-up comedy videos and he has recently started finding online joke videos that they can laugh at together. They have one dog, a pit bull named Petey who is a major bed hog.
You can follow Lauren on her blog and on Facebook by visiting her website for more details,
BPM: Please share something our readers wouldn’t know about you.
Many years ago, I learned something very special about myself. I am comfortable around old people and people who are dying. I have no problem visiting people in the hospital. I can talk to them honestly and often enjoy making them smile and laugh.
Back in 2003, my father moved in with me before losing a battle to lung cancer. He only lived for 6 more weeks, and it was a truly meaningful moment in time. Two years later, I moved from North Carolina to Maryland to spend more time with my mother when she was in her 80s. My husband and I cared for his brother and daughter for 5 months until he died. And I worked as a hospice volunteer for a year, visiting people in nursing homes and providing respite care. When I retire, I plan to go back to being a hospice volunteer. It’s not something that everyone can do.
BPM: If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Intelligent, empathetic, and sensitive.
BPM: Tell us about writing your first book. What was the journey like?
Mourning Angela was my first short story. I have very strong views about abortion, and I wanted to tell a story that bridged the pro-choice/pro-life gap, because, although I am pro-choice, I understand both sides.
One day, I found myself having an overwhelming desire to write the story, so I sat down at my computer and let it pour out of me. It took about 4-5 hours to get it down on paper. I didn’t know what it would be until I wrote it down. That is usually how I write – I don’t know the end until I write it. And then, I went back and filled in the setting. I am very bad at setting a scene, and it’s something I have to work at.
BPM: Introduce us to your most recent work, Afro-Bougie Blues. Available on Amazon Kindle?
Afro-Bougie Blues is available on Amazon in ebook, hardcover, and paperback formats.
I usually only write 1-2 stories per year. I write when I am inspired, for the most part, and when I try to write at any other time, it doesn’t come out well. But there were some things I felt I needed to write about, so I made an effort.
I wrote about campaigning for former President Obama, which I did extensively in both 2008 and 2012, I wrote about COVID, and then I wrote a story that was inspired by a tragedy. One of my work colleagues lost her son. She talks about her grief process quite publicly, in fact, she has turned it into a social media opportunity. But she doesn’t talk about how he died.
She is from Baltimore, and the murder rate in Baltimore is horrific, so that is a possibility. I wanted to capture a mother’s grief. So, I wrote a story about a woman whose son is killed in a freak car accident. I shared the story with a few people, and they sent condolences. I think the story is good enough to submit for prizes – we shall see what happens. If I ever write “More Bougie Blues”, this will be the first story.
BPM: Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
When I had several stories and was thinking about publishing them, I knew I needed to come up with a memorable title. Afro-Bougie Blues came to me in essence because that’s exactly what I write. I write stories from an African American perspective, but specifically from a middle-class perspective. The perspective of people who aren’t struggling financially but are encountering challenges that money can’t solve. Money can’t take away the grief for the death of a parent. Money can’t always get a loved one out of jail. Money can’t guarantee a pregnancy. Money doesn’t make dating any easier. Money can’t conquer PTSD. Money can’t eliminate domestic violence. Money can’t eliminate the sting of colorism. So, these were “Bougie Blues”. “Afro-Bougie Blues.”
BPM: Is writing easy for you?
What an interesting question. Even though I am an author, I don’t think of myself as a writer. As someone with bipolar disorder, I tend to write when I am experiencing mania. I think of it as having a muse. She comes, she fills me with a story, and I sit down and write until the story has poured out of me and onto the page. It’s a very intense experience, one that I love. And I know, intuitively, that the story is good, meaningful, personal, inspired. That it can touch people’s hearts, that it can touch their souls.
And then my manic phase is over, and the muse disappears. The effortless, intense ability to create also disappears. It’s physically and emotionally painful. I grieve the muse every time she leaves me. And after a few botched efforts, I know better than to try to write when she’s not there. It just doesn’t work. The words don’t flow, the story is contrived, and it has no heart. So, the answer is yes and no. Once a year, it is easy. And the rest of the time, it is virtually impossible, and I don’t even try.
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
I weigh 250 lbs. I can barely remember weighing less than 200 lbs. When I was 19, I weighed about 119 lbs. and then I coasted up to 140. I started gaining major weight around age 26, and I just ballooned to 230 lbs. by age 29. And stayed there. Or rather, bounced between 230 and 270. I got it in my head to try veganism, for the first time, in 2003, and the weight just came off. But I couldn’t sustain it. It was too difficult to eat salads whenever I went out to eat, while I watched everyone else eat pizza, ribs, steak, macaroni & cheese, etc.
But, one day, a story came to me about a woman who managed to take her weight off. All of it. That was Transformations. She is more resolved than I am. She stuck to it and never looked back. Her entire life changed. I tried veganism again around 2017 and managed to drop 60 lbs. But I couldn’t sustain it and put it back on. Tried again last fall. And couldn’t even lose weight. I have reconciled myself with the need to count calories if I want to work the miracle. But I also know that having a friend in your corner as BeBe did can make all of the difference. My doctor has pointed out that losing weight is in my best interest. I’m pre-diabetic, my blood pressure is rising, and my knees are giving out. My body is sending me all of the signals to say, “Take the Damned Weight Off Already!” I just need to listen and obey.
BPM: What were the key challenges you faced when writing Afro-Bougie Blues?
Writing the book wasn’t the problem – it was the marketing. As an indie author of an African American short story collection, marketing has been an uphill battle. Back in 2019, I began researching what it would cost to publish the book. The minimum price was around $3000. And I didn’t have that kind of money. So, I put it off. In 2021, I got a new job that paid a great deal more, and in the spring of 2022, there was a work lull. That was when I decided to publish. The book came out on May 30th, scrubbed, reviewed, and listed on Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.
I had read up about marketing. Launch parties, book reviews, e-mail blasts. Tried them all. Tried press releases. Tried Amazon ads. Tried Facebook ads. Everything I tried cost money, and nothing helped me to break even. At the end of 2021, I realized that I simply wasn’t going to break even, and I stopped trying. Instead, I gave myself a goal, one that I am trying to achieve as we speak.
I truly believe that my book can touch people’s hearts and give them a memorable experience. I want as many people as possible to have that experience. So, I am making some marketing efforts this year, with the hope that 1,000 people will read the book and enjoy it. The average indie author only sells 300 books in a lifetime. Only 10% sell 1,000 or more copies. I want to be in that 10%. I’d like to think that once I hit that number, I can rest.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Back in March 2022, my publisher began working on my website. http://www.afrobougieblues.com. They had a template and just had to fill it in. I did a lot of it. I put together reviews, I found images that I felt represented the stories, and I wrote my author blurb.
A friend of mine told me that I should add a section just about “Lauren”, and my publisher agreed. So, I added a section called “More About Lauren” and put together all sorts of things about myself that make me who I am. My efforts with the King Holiday, my research on Black History Month, my dollhouse, my Buddhist practice, and my college memories. It’s all there. Take a look!
Afro-Bougie Blues: A Collection of Short Fiction by Lauren Wilson
Step into the world of Afro-Bougie Blues and walk in the shoes of different protagonists as they struggle to move through the world. Read how ordinary black women and men develop tenacity when they have to deal with the reality of their choices.
Alexis finally finds love after seventeen years of a lonely existence, but life throws a curveball into her life. Watch as she overcomes the challenge despite her past still looming over her head.
Walk with Rodney, a gulf war veteran who tries to drown the war memories with alcohol. See Bessie, overweight and stuck in life, make a decision that sets her on a journey that transforms her life in ways she never imagined.
Thirteen-year-old Aisha wants answers to her complicated question about love. And this sets her father on the task of reflecting on what the word “love” really means. Listen to Lenore and her sisters recount stories from their father’s life after he succumbs to cancer.
From depression, abortion, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), spousal abuse, addiction, and extramarital affairs to colorism. Each short story takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion as you experience different areas of life narrated from a first-person perspective.
Afro-Bougie Blues is about characters with stories that are relatable because it captures struggles people deal with in everyday life. The author’s captivating prose and incredible storytelling will plunge the reader into fascinating worlds and challenge them to take on new perspectives that in turn inspire, move and entertain.
A great read for anyone who wants to know how people with diverse problems face the toughness of the world they inhabit. How they move forward when the future is uncertain and fortunes change in the blink of an eye, challenging their reality and overcoming it. “You will find yourself not wanting this book to end.”
Purchase Afro-Bougie Blues: A Collection of Short Fiction by Lauren Wilson
Genre: African American contemporary fiction – https://amzn.to/3ZNSiuM
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