Intimate Conversation with Attica Locke


Intimate Conversation with Attica Locke

 In the tradition of Dennis Lehane and Greg Iles comes a powerful new voice in American fiction: Attica Locke delivers a brilliant debut thriller readers will not soon forget…With intelligent writing that captures the reader from the first scene through an exhilarating climax, Black Water Rising marks the arrival of an electrifying new talent. 

Attica Locke is a novelist and a screenwriter who has written scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, HBO Films and more. A graduate of Northwestern University, she was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab.  Black Water Rising, her first novel, was nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award and a 2010 NAACP Image Award. She is currently at work on her second book.

BPM:  What makes you powerful as a person and a writer? Courage. I wake up every day not sure where the work will take me, scared that I won't have anything to say. And yet I still show up for it every day. Which is the same way I approach life. I'm often scared of the unknown, of what I can't see about my future, but I'm willing to show up to life every day. I live and write by faith.

BPM:  Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?You know the person I think of a lot when I'm writing? Lightnin' Hopkins, the Texas blues musician. His music is clean, simple and deeply moving. I want my writing to be like his blues - tough and melodic and full of raw beauty.

BPM:  Introduce us to your book, Black Water Rising.
Black Water Rising  is a murder mystery, following the character, Jay Porter, a low rent criminal defense attorney who was heavily involved in the civil rights movement in the late '60s and early '70s and now finds himself trying to transition from the political activism of his youth into the Reagan '80s - a time when the whole country and black people in particular had shifted our focus from political progress to economic progress. And along the way he has to come to terms with the demons of his past.

Jay Porter is hardly the lawyer he set out to be. His most promising client is a low-rent call girl, and he runs his fledgling law practice out a dingy strip mall. But he’s long since made peace with his path to the American Dream, carefully tucking away his darkest sins: the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him.

Houston, Texas, 1981. It’s here that Jay believes he can make a fresh start. That is, until the night he impulsively saves a drowning woman’s life – and opens a Pandora’s Box. Her secrets put Jay in danger, ensnaring him in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family, and even his life. But before he can get to the bottom of a tangled mystery that reaches into the upper echelons of Houston’s corporate powerbrokers, Jay must confront the demons of his past.

BPM:  Who were your favorites? Are your characters from the portrayal of real people?Well, Jay is certainly my favorite character in the book. He's not any one person in particular, though some facts of his life are similar to the details of my father's life. But he's more representative of my parents' generation - a group of people who, in their late teens and twenties, devoted their lives to political activism and then somehow had to find their way out of that when the movement ended.

BPM:  Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...
...a deep compassion and love for the choices and mistakes and small victories that make us human.

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
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Book Reviews for Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

"Black Water Rising is a near-perfect balance of trenchant social commentary, rich characterizations and an action-oriented plot..."   – Los Angeles Times

“Locke, a screenwriter with both film and TV credits (including a forthcoming HBO miniseries about the civil rights movement) steers a gritty drama to a satisfying end… Locke remains an author to watch.” 
– Publishers Weekly

“Locke expertly etches a portrait of her anxiety-ridden protagonist, and she animates the complex plot with the assurance of a practiced screenwriter...”  – Kirkus Reviews


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