Your memoir WHAT BECOMES OF THE BROKENHEARTED goes on sale July
8th. Fans have been clamoring for this for years, can you give us
a preview of what we can expect?
I see my memoir as a coming age and success story. I hope fans are
encouraged by it, and regardless of their current situation, see
that anything is possible.
Although at first glance fans may think the title WHAT BECOMES
OF THE Brokenhearted seems bittersweet, in reality your life has
truly been one of inspiration. What advice would you give to folks
who are thinking about pursuing their wildest dreams but are a little
hesitant about making the leap?
Dreams don't come true unless you put forth an effort to make something happen. If you don't have the courage to follow your dreams, not only will you miss out on wonderful things, but also the chance to inspire others.
Much of the conflict in your life came from feeling different. What do you hope that your fans take away from seeing your struggle?
I wish that when I was young, I had celebrated my differences rather than lead a life cloaked in shame. That shame lead to low self esteem...something I realize is not uncommon...but seemed more intense due to my secret. I hope that fans both young and old will realize that all of us are different and that whomever we believe in would want us to celebrate our uniqueness.
In the memoir you talk about the impact your father had on your life. What would you say to fathers about the importance of their role in a son's life?
The role of a father figure is key and critical in the development of sons into men. I realize that all of us may not have traditional relationships with our fathers but we should seek out positive male role models in our extended family or friends who become family.
In the book there seems to be some familiar themes, how closely has your fiction been inspired by your life over the years?
My fiction has been inspired by things in my past and situations I want to make a statement about. This doesn't mean that each of my novels deals directly with my life, but as a creator of characters and plot lines, I can't help but include parts of my own life.
In the last year, you have been busy touring for your bestseller A LOVE OF MY OWN and working with Marita Golden on GUMBO, can you tell us about some of the highlights of your past year?
Some for the highlights were--the publication of Gumbo, because the proceeds were going to great cause, and my first foray into the world of television, when I hosted a segment of In the Life.
Do you have more television and broadcast plans in your future?
I plan to return a few times as the host of In the Life but I have no plans to give Oprah and Montel a run for their money.
We understand that you will teach this fall. Can you tell us more?
I'm excited about returning to my alma mater the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville for the fall term of 2003 as writer in residence and visiting professor. I will teach two classes--Contemporary African American fiction with a focus on African American novels written from the 1990s to present and a special class in creative writing where students will be challenged to work on everything from thank you notes to short stories.
What else can we look forward to from Mr. Harris in the upcoming year?
While in Fayetteville I will be finishing up my latest novel that will be published in July 2004.