Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lillian Cauldwell

I had the pleasure of working with Lillian when I hosted the mystery interview show on her radio station, Passionate Internet Voices Radio. Since then I was delighted to hear that Lillian had published a mystery book and it was being very well received. Her books are aimed at 'tweens'. I'll let Lillian explain what that means.


The Anna Mae Mysteries-The Golden Treasure is the first book in a series "that I hope continues for a very long time." Jacqueline Lichtenberg, January 11, 2009.

Three tweens find Jefferson Davis' lost gold treasure with help from a disembodied Black fist and divining rods.

What makes this multicultural historical paranormal mystery series for young adults different from the other tween mystery books being written? Glad you asked. I describe myself as an oreo cookie in reverse: white (the vanilla) on the outside, but African American (chocolate) on the inside.

I write multi-cultural historical paranormal mysteries for young adults, or what I call the "tween" world, 9 to 13 years old. Tweens neither belong in the kid world, under 9 nor do they belong in the teenage world. They belong in a world where their lives, relationships, emotions, and friendships are topsy-turvey. What I call "Upside down and inside out" because nothing is what it seems. One minute tweens love, and the next minute tweens hate. One moment a tween likes you and can't be separated from you, and in the next moment, that same tween thrusts you from their side and treats you like the enemy.

I visited several libraries in Houston, Texas, Cleveland, Ohio and Ann Arbor, Michigan and spoke with the librarians. I wanted to know from them what was needed in young adult literature. They told me that tween literature was at a high time low. More importantly, those librarians told me there wasn't enough good literature out there for multi-cultural tween readers.

The sort of mystery, challenge, and adventure that boys would enjoy. Right? Wrong!

The sort of mystery, challenge, and adventure that GIRLS and boys would enjoy. That reads a whole lot better. In fact, I'll go one step further than the last one. The book addresses four major themes: 1) The War Between the States is still going on down South. You can look away, close your eyes, and cover your ears, but it's true. Just ask tweens. They'll tell you the truth even when us adults and parents turn away or ignore what we hear. 2) GIRLS are fine the way they are: fat, thin, big, tall, hips, breasts, lips, eyes, nose, cheeks, big feet, little hands. GIRLS ARE FINE THE WAY THEY ARE. It's the rest of the world that's out of whack. 3) GIRLS DON'T NEED TO DUMB THEMSELVES DOWN. The first time my son came home from junior high (7th) grade, he cried. It seemed that all of his friends (girls, that is) acted dumb. They wore their dresses and skirts too high (no mystery left, he said), put on a lot of make-up and resorted to one syllable words. 4) Solving problems. If you want to challenge and change the problems in the outside world, learn to solve the problems at home-at school-with your siblings-with your friends-how else can you be successful if you don't have a plan to put in place of the one that you just threw out the window?

Another thing, tweens have a language all of their own. No, I don't mean text messaging...or computer speech...I mean the kind of language that only they can understand. In school, tweens speak teacher speak, you know proper grammar with recognizable words-well most of the time. When tweens hang with their friends, they use abbreviated words to express what they're feeling. When they're around their grandparents, tweens pick up their grandparent's slang and dialect. And, that's what I did in Anna Mae and surprised the hell out of a lot of folks who live on St. Simon's island. They couldn't figure out how a reverse Oreo could write Gullah and not live on the Island. That's quite a compliment.

I advise anyone who wants to write a book, either fiction or nonfiction, to do several things before you even write that book. Go to your local bookstore and speak to the manager or to the book clerks. Find out from them what's selling in your particular genre. Ask which books fly off the shelf and which books don't sell at all. Go home and put together a Marketing Plan. Know who your target market is and then write your book for that particular audience.

My major goal in writing is to LEAVE SOMETHING BEHIND so that future generations can read my books and be entertained and learn without knowing it. That's the legacy I want to establish. blog: