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YA Novel Released! Deanne in the Middle by DuEwa Frazier

Hot off the press, it’s here... DuEwa Frazier’s latest book. YA novel Deanne in the Middle was published July 3, 2014. I recalled hearing mention of the book a little piece back, and like always when I hear mention of a WIP (work in progress) being published, I smile all kinds of wide. Any author who has turned a WIP into a finished product knows exactly the feeling I’m imparting here.

Now DuEwa isn’t exactly just any author. Quite involved in the literary scene DuEwa has written several poetry books. She has been a contributing writer for many publications; FreshGoddess, Mosaic, and Essence Magazines among the many. She has been a featured speaker at numerous arts venues, colleges, festivals, and conferences; to include NCTE's Annual CCCC Convention in Kentucky, The Shrine, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, among the numerous. She as well produces and hosts a sundry of art events in and around the New York City area, along with hosting Rhymes, Views & News Talk Radio airing via Blog Talk Radio, resulting in her receiving many Honorable Mentions and being recognized by entities such as Writer's Digest and NAACP Image Awards. Again, DuEwa is very involved in the literary scene.

Fortunately, because this doesn’t happen every day, particularly for authors as engaged, DuEwa was able to bestow a little time to answer a few questions I had about Deanne in the Middle. The 411 is below.

Interviewed by OEBooks/RYCJ July 2014

OEB: When writing ‘Deanne in the Middle’ how important did you find it to have an understanding of young people? 

DF: I felt I had to mix it up when it came to creating Deanne in the Middle and the voices I wanted to come through this story in order to be most relatable to young readers.  Deanne in the Middle includes various characters - some who are very "straight and narrow" archetypes others who have a tinge of rebellion. The main character, Deanne Summers is one of those teens who walks the straight and narrow path yet she attracts some pretty interesting friends and foes who are not like her.  Some of the themes present are ones we know quite well such as dealing with peer pressure, the backlash of when friends become "frenemies" and youth bullying. My understanding of young people comes from being an educator and youth worker for many years.  I enjoy listening to them talk and hearing what they care about.  This interaction has very much impacted how I wrote Deanne in the Middle.

OEB: What was the best part about writing the novel? Coming up with the idea? Getting to the ending? Or...
DF: The idea for Deanne in the Middle came from both my experiences as a young student and what I observed as a middle and high school teacher.  I started writing Deanne in the Middle in 2007. Each time I sat down to write, the ideas just poured out but I had to get control of the story.  The best part about writing this story is that I'm sometimes surprised at the characters and what they say and do.  I enjoyed writing Deanne, the main character as well as her friends and peers.  I liked crafting the voice of Deanne's best male friend Kevin and creating the scenes of conflict - what young readers call the "drama" in the story. The thing about Deanne in the Middle is that it's not over (smile)!

OEB: What are a few pros and cons you’ve found about publishing today, as opposed to publishing, or being published prior to 2000?

DF: I think that publishing is a journey and a commitment.  I remember keeping a journal of my thoughts and creative writing at the age of nine.  I also wrote essays as a child.  I don't think I said "Hey I'm going to be an author" until I was finishing college and new I wanted to write.  I don't think there are any cons to publishing but I think a writer has to stay true to their creative leanings and if you want to get published look for or create the opportunities that support you to be the best writer you can be.

OEB: What’s your favorite reading genre, and share some of your favorite books?

DF: I enjoy poetry, children's books, memoirs and fiction.  My favorite book of all time is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.  Other favorite books include Herstories by Virginia Hamilton, Wrapped in Rainbows by Valeria Boyd, Domestic Work by Natasha Trethewey, Book of Light by Lucille Clifton, The Complete Stories of Flannery O' Connor, The Maverick Room by Thomas Sayers Ellis, all books by Ntozake Shange including I Live in Music (illustrated by Romare Bearden) and Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo by Ntozake Shange, Homegirls and Handgrenades and all books by Sonia Sanchez, Always Wear Joy by Susan Fales-Hill, The Book of Night Women by Marlon James, 145th Street Stories by Walter Dean Myers and many other books of poetry, children's books and memoirs.

OEB: How do you do it? Teach? Attend conferences? Write? Blog? Host Blog Radio Shows? Where/How do you find the time?

DF: I don't do it all everyday! Ha! I have been described as a workaholic, which is not great but some people think it's a compliment.  I'm one of those people whose mind is always going and thinking "what's next?"  I tend to follow my creative desires and do the best I can with the time and resources I have.

OEB: And while I’m on that note, what is down time for you… when you aren’t reading, writing or working?

DF: When I'm not working, I attend cultural events and just try to enjoy life.

OEB: What are you working on next?

DF: I am working on other stories and focused on sharing Deanne in the Middle with young readers.  Visit my website at for updates!

OEB: What are the top three pieces of advice you give to aspiring writers?

DF: Write often. Take workshops and get critiqued. Do not compare your success, ideas or opportunities to that of other writers - walk your journey and walk it proud.

OEB: And so there it is... write often, get critiqued, and walk with it. Ha! Thank you DuEwa!

Visit DuEwa Frazier M.Ed., M.F.A., Ed.M.


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