Martha Tucker: The Mayor’s Wife Wore Sapphires
I’m proud to introduce a new author on the literary scene. She is a fiction writer straight outta Compton (ouch!) out with her first book, The Mayor’s Wife Wore Sapphires. The author of the novel (who will be present in booth # 530 at the L.A. Times Festival of Books this coming weekend @ UCLA -2000 Plus booth) does know what the heroine has gone through for she too, was known as The Mayor’s Wife. Here is Martha Tucker!
Charles: Martha, please tell us something about yourself.
Martha: I’m the seventh child of eight children. Grew up in Gary, Indiana, attended Gary public schools. That place was my little heaven, back then. My father died when I was six months old and I have a younger sister by my mother’s next husband. I knew nothing much about the world out there, but at four years old, I said, “I wanna go to college.” I would be only two of seven children that attended college. I attended Fisk University, Married a Meharry Medical student, and he brought me to Los Angeles, where he started his practice. I’ve lived my whole adult life in LA. I graduated from California State University Los Angeles in education, and taught Elementary Education in the Los Angeles School District. Then I studied the Maria Montessoria method of teaching inner city children and established the Montessori De Compton School. Always, though, I loved writing. I wrote–not very well, I’m sure. My first stories appeared at age four, and I was sending them out to magazines by age eleven.
Charles: What persuaded you to start writing? Was it something you’ve always wanted to do or was it a hobby that eventually grew to a career?
Martha: I have always been a writer. I had to write like I had to breathe. I think that happened was because my brothers and sisters were already grown and out of the house. So, I imagined me up some friends.
Charles: Since you’re the wife of a former mayor, I’m sure it wasn’t hard to come up with a novel like The Mayor’s Wife Wore Sapphires, correct?
Martha: No, you’re a bit off on that one, Charles. It was the hardest of all things. Mainly, I had such a huge well of content that was unwieldy and without focus. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to say. Talk about hard? I tried to find the statement, the premise for ten years. Then it took me five of those years to write it, having thrown out 17 drafts. Finally, after my husband passed, I looked back on the 12 years he served as Mayor Of Compton, and decided what was the most important thing I could say about those years. What would be the best form to prove what I would say. I recalled a lot of contention and division in that Black neighborhood, and thus its atmosphere. Then and only then, could I write that story. I can only hope that I’ve written something all city leadership and employees can grow by, become better by, consider, do better by communities with.
Charles: Please tell our readers about the background of The Mayor’s Wife Wore Sapphires? Did the novel have to go through any changes before it went to print?
Martha: Yes, even after I finished the story, I had a good editor, then a mystery edit, and there were so many snags, I was almost a year behind the planned schedule. But with the feedback I’ve gotten, it was worth the close scrutiny and time.
Charles: How about the novel itself? Please tell us about the plot and main character, Indigo Tate. Who is she?
Martha: Indigo Tate is a young mayor’s wife who is a social climber and wants to live what she went to school for, got her degrees for, but the love of her life turned out to be the mayor of an inner. To her chagrin, she decides to live there, and decides to save her social face by bringing in a lot of cultural things. Her husband get the World Hub project funded, which promises to raise the educational and economic level of the city. When he finds a million dollar discrepancy in the construction budget, and demands accounting, he is assassinated. Indigo’s growth arc is radical. She has to shed her frivolous ways and become a Coretta King. Ultimately, she is thrust into the belly of inner-city politics with gangs and a flood of drugs that ride in town on every motor and bicycle. She has to save her life, children, and a city undivided with the only weapon she owns–her woman’s intuition.
Charles: Was the setting and time The Mayor’s Wife Wore Sapphires took place helpful in writing the novel?
Martha: You know, I believe that was one of elements that kept me going. I wanted to capture the early 80’s. It was the “Best of times and the worst of time.” African Americans were coming into the power of political leadership, first generation affluence– when families could shop till they dropped and send their children to Princeton, Yale and Harvard. They moved to the Hills and melded into White society, without a thought of repercussions. They were plotting to burst through the glass ceiling of corporate America.
Things were going to get better, much better because politics shape everything, from the cradle to the grave–the loans banks give, the interest rates one pays in the inner cities, government money for schools, incentives for high rated teachers to teach in the inner cities, the grocery stores that can afford to come into the inner-city, construction, streets…. Middle class Blacks had hopes that integration, Affirmative Action and Fair Housing would make them equal. They left the cities too, much to their own devices.
Yes, I would like for some student to read my book fifty years from now and say, “Wow, that’s what Black thought and did then. Oh, that was their problem? Well, we sure fixed that. Or things haven’t changed much. Or, I see. she clearly defined the problems under all of that glitter. So we can use that and fix our problems. Let’s set a campaign to fight division and unify and make things better.”
Yes, I loved writing from that era, not too far in the past that we can’t relate, nor too close that we can’t see relevance of the action today.
Charles: In Chapter Three, there is a quote from Mel, Indigo’s husband and the Mayor when he tells her “Politics in an addiction” Why do you think that is?
Martha: Actually, Indigo says that. She tries to get him to move, even though he has given her a mansion there in the city. But she says there is a whole world out there that she’s worked to be a part of…He says “…If the project dies, you’re going to live to see a generation so lost–.” (It did spill over with the ’92 riots–and even today.)
She’s so frustrated. He’s a big time lawyer, a respected member of a larger society and they can afford to move. But Mel refuses. Then she takes a nip of her Courvoisier and wails: “Politics is an addiction. The red poppy that clouds judgment. The power of pure opium. It grab and hold and facinates. It’s the cheer of the crowd at a football game, the accolades of strangers….feeds from the smile of the multitude. …An addiction from which you can never escape.”
Charles: Here’s a question for you: Is Indigo Tate Martha Tucker or is based on someone else?
Martha: She is based on strong women I’ve met. Flawed, but brilliant and effective. What would this one do if she were in this situation, what would that one think. What would so and so do…mix them up and make a character. That is how Indigo became such a very complex and incredible character. I think she will be a name and a presence for a long time. I think of her as the Black Scarlet O’Hara. An Eve in All About Eve. She’s Celie in the Color Purple. “You never gonna do no good till you do right by me.” I think she’s Jackie Kennedy, and Dorothy Dandridge. She’s even demure, but devilish like Daisy in The Great Gatsby, I think she’s Maya Angelou in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I even feel a bit of Virginia Wolf, with her penchant for Courvoisier and champagne. I see in her Seabiscuit…the least likely to succeed. But she’s also a little Lady McBeth, always plotting and scheming…Sister Carrie, lonesome and lost in Chicago. But longing to know what the night lights are about. I think Indigo is awesome. She has survival instincts. I’ve never climbed a fence, stuck a bobbed-wire prong in my flesh, saw the blood running down and rolled on the ground and kept running. But I know a friend who did. Indigo is some of all of that. I love to read of heroines who become a part of my life. I love those bad-good girls who grow up to have good sense.
Charles: Where can the readers pick up a copy of the book and how can they contact you?
Martha: The Mayor’s Wife Wore Sapphires will be on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble in mid May. Meanwhile, it is available on my website: http://www.marthatucker.com/
anyone buying from this interview will get an autographed copy and 20% off. All they have to do is put CC at the end of Urban Classic Books–CC.
Charles: In closing, what would you like to say to all the aspiring and beginning authors out there?
Martha: Aspiring writers can come over to my site and join the Best Seller Circle. I’m going to be teaching how to do everything it took me ten hard years to learn:
How to write sure and fast.
How get off the “Chittling Circuit” in six months or less.
How to use all bestseller elements like a pro.
How to guarantee that readers will finish reading your book.
How to open and close a chapter so the reader is hooked from the first line.
How to never get lost in the middle.
How to make every chapter move your story forward,
How to write big.
How to market your name to fame when haven’t got a dime.
The teachings are free.
Order your copy of The Mayor’s Wife Wore Sapphires: marthatucker.com
Charles: Hey Martha, it’s been fun! I can’t wait to pick up my copy from you!
Martha: Thanks, Charles for the interview. I’m really proud of what you’re doing to expose other authors. You know I owe you one!
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re looking for a cool political thriller, then please pick up your copy of The Mayor’s Wife Wore Sapphires!