Wow, here we go again! It’s
already the second month of 2009. It’s a beautiful day in Florida. My
hubby, Bill, and my dog, Jake, relax on the porch with me as I prepare
for my monthly interview. “It’s such a perfect afternoon for back porch
writing.” I begin by checking my calendar. “Let’s see. It’s February .
. . and we have Groundhog Day, Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day,
President’s Day, and I believe this month most schools will close for a
pipes up, “Think you forgot
“Um, I don’t know? Did I?”
He thumbs through my date book.
“Well February has only twenty-eight days—unless it’s leap year, and
nope, no leap this year.”
“Hum . . . Oh, that. Yes, I
knew that. I thought you were thinking about ‘other’ important days
that are marked on the calendar.”
“Well, we’re zooming out to LA,
I know Bill likes to
tease . . . but. “Yes. I love this month’s author; she spent
her childhood in New York like me. I can relate. But that’s not
entirely what I was thinking about.”
“Oh, let’s see. February . . .
What could be so special about this month?”
“Bill, it’s my . . .”
“I know, it’s your birthday
month! I would never forget that. I cherish the day you were born!”
“Aha, thank you. You
“Well, we’ve been celebrating February twenty-third for ages! Um, I
mean . . . twenty-nine years.”
Think I’ll ignore that. “Come on, you two. Grab Jake, our
coats and hats; We’re going Jeeping.”
Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author. Never having
lost the dream to write, she answered the call when the “bug” hit her
Victoria originally self-published her first story; however, in 2000,
Time Warner republished Temptation. Life changed as
she made numerous best-seller lists and remained there for nine
consecutive months. To top that, in 2001, Temptation
was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature.
Joy; Truth Be Told; Grown
Folks Business; A Sin and A Shame; The Ex Files; and Too Little, Too
Late followed on the same path. In 2008, Victoria’s first
novels in her Christian fiction teen series—The Divine Divas—were
published. A great writer, award-winning author, and more . . .
Rodeo Drive is supposedly the
fourth most popular tourist attraction in LA. Bill and I certainly
would make sure we went to the top three, but since this was
practically within walking distance of Victoria’s home, we all decided
on a stroll. We could talk and walk, and she didn’t mind at all doing
the tourist thing with us.
were raised in Queens, NY. What memory of life in the city will you
always hold dear to your heart even though you don’t live there any
Wow, that’s a good question. My family moved to Queens in the ’60s,
when Queens was such a suburb, such a “small town.” I saw my first
squirrel in Queens and wondered at the time, “What had my parents done,
moving me and my sisters out to the country!” But all in all, I have
wonderful, kind of “Father Knows Best” memories of teachers who really
cared about my success, of learning to play the flute and clarinet and
speak French, of my girlfriends and I falling in love with The Monkees
and trying to sing like the Supremes, of being a Girl Scout! Ah, those
were the days!
and/or why did you end up in California?
always say my husband tricked me! I met Ray in Graduate School at New
York University. He was from Los Angeles, but never did he say anything
about moving home. We met, fell in love, got married, purchased a condo
in the city (I was thrilled!), and then we celebrated our first wedding
anniversary in Los Angeles! I have no idea how I ended up in Los
Angeles, but we have lived here ever since, so it must’ve been a good
you tried surfing?
LOL. I love the beach, but I don’t get into the water. I just cannot
risk messing up my hair!
Temptation is your first novel. What expectations did you
have, publishing on your own?
My goodness, I had so many big dreams. I had my MBA, my husband had his
MBA; we were sure that we were going to make a lot of money
self-publishing. I thought it would be easy for me to sell 100,000
copies. I had visions of making close to a million dollars. I didn’t
know why everyone wasn’t doing it this way. And then reality hit—I self
published, sold nine thousand books in six months (which was considered
great, but not great enough for me!). That was when I said, “Whoa!” and
realized that self-publishing wasn’t for me.
you found an agent. What deciding factor made you adjust your way of
See above! I decided that in order to sell what I wanted to sell, I had
to have a distribution machine behind me. I needed to be with a
Spiritually, do you believe you still would have been noticed and had
as many wonderful achievements if you had continued with your own
Yes, I would have been noticed. I think that’s why I did well
self-publishing. But being with a larger publisher has helped even
an original idea to the finish (the end), how long does it take you to
complete a manuscript?
It takes about a year for an adult novel, but only about three months
for one of my teen novels.
of your novels is your personal favorite? And why?
Ah, that’s not fair. These books are like my children; can I truly have
a favorite? I mean, Temptation was my first, so
that’s special, but each has ministered to me in a different way.
watched a clip on YouTube with your Divine Divas and would like to know
a little more about these talented young girls. Did you know them and
therefore came up with the ideas for the series?
Don’t know what you saw—there’s not a YouTube video, unless a group of
girls who read the books came up with something themselves. But I just
came up with the idea of four fifteen-year-old girls on my own.
you continue on with these characters as your Diva’s literally become
older women in their 20s, 30s, or 40s?
Oh, no. I am through with these girls. They will remain fifteen
forever! I’m not big on series and sequels. There are so many
characters I’d love to write about, so after the fourth book, I’ll be
moving on to something else.
of your book covers portray beautiful black women. Do you think your
books are primarily read and marketed to an African American audience?
(If yes, have you considered writing fiction that includes characters
who aren't African American?
You know, I don’t have much to do with my book covers. It is clear that
as an African American most of my readers will be African Americans.
But the thing is I think my stories are far more Christian than they
are African American. So, I’ve been blessed with a bit of crossover,
and it’s been fine because not all of my characters inside a story are
African American. I’m an equal opportunity drama queen!
What’s next for 2009?
have two more teen books coming out—the last two of the Divine Divas
and my eighth adult novel. I’m thinking about maybe creating another
teen group. We’ll see. I really want to expand beyond my books—finding
a way to use them to reach into television or movies. I haven’t figured
it all out yet.
mentioned growing up in the ’60s, and you seem to have had a “normal”
upbringing. Today, with so many children not growing up the way we did
(divorced parents, drugs, not as much discipline, etc.), have you ever
done any work with organizations or on your own to inspire children
with your accomplishments? (Example: schools, church, teach-a-child
I’ve spoken at a lot of schools with my teen series.
Living in Los Angeles, have you seen or met any movie stars? Who?
Yup, you can’t live in LA and not run into people. It’s not even
exciting anymore. I’ve seen (and actually know his wife) Denzel
Washington, Samuel Jackson and his wife, Victoria Rowell (from the
Young and the Restless) is a friend of mine, Dawnn Lewis (from A
Different World) another good friend. Ummm. Let me see—there are more,
I know. I just don’t see them as celebrities anymore.
you ever been to the late night Jay Leno show—as part of the audience
Years ago I went to Arsenio Hall’s show. (Am I dating myself?) And I
loved going to Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect.
you seen the stars, the ones that are in the concretewith famous
Nope, I don’t do the tourist thing. It’s kinda like living in New York
and hanging out in the Empire State Building—doesn’t happen.
Drive, what’s your opinion?
Shop there quite a bit. My favorite Neiman Marcus is just a block away.
One of my favorite shopping places.
the food? Can you find bagels or pizza that compare to NY?
The food’s as good as anywhere else. Lots of seafood, lots of upscale
restaurants. I tend to love the restaurants that are right on the
have been asked many questions during your career, but would you like
to share with your fans something they haven’t asked, but you think
they would enjoy hearing about?
Are you kidding? In ten years, I’ve been asked every single thing. And
anything I haven’t told yet, I don’t want to tell. I’ve gotta keep a
little for myself, right—just a bit of mystery!
Absolutely! Thank you so much for a terrific afternoon. This has been
great! Take care.
Valerie Anne Faulkner, a New
York native, moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida in 1973. Author of
I Must Be in Heaven, a promise kept… she spends her
days working side by side with her husband, Bill, as an electrician,
then evenings, as a writer. The CFOM interviews
have been a great way for her to meet other authors and hone her
writing craft. This back-porch writer’s family is very important to
her, and she cherishes time spent with her three grown children and six
grandchildren. A few hours with family or a day enjoying one of
Florida’s Gulf beaches are her favorite ways to relieve stress and
refresh from her busy lifestyle. Valerie’s motto is “A day with prayer
. . . seldom unravels.”
Recently her story was honored
with First Place-Royal Palm Literary Award in the published/memoir
category at the Florida Writer’s Conference held in Lake
Visit her at www.imustbeinheaven.com