Hey Friends! We’re counting down to #WineWithWriters… books, music, wine, more books, more wine and conversation. What will we be talking about? ‘Identity & Individuality: The Movement Toward Issue-Based Black Women’s Fiction.’ It’ll be intimate and fun and candid and fun and insightful and… did I mention fun? Register now and join us Saturday, March 10. Can’t wait to spend time and sip wine with you.
Now let’s turn the spotlight to Lily Java! Vivid scenes and beautiful language are her signatures and, what I enjoy most, are the secondary relationships that add even more depth to Lily’s stories — specifically in her latest novel, ‘Blackbirds’ where also experience the bonds between mother and son, father and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter that touched my heart and made me smile. And what I love most? Those sensual slow burns where the tension is thick and passionate connection is inevitable. Get a taste of that in today’s excerpt from Lily’s fantastic novel, ‘Blackbirds,’ after some Q&A and this week’s recommended wine pairing… enjoy!
10 Questions for Lily …
Would you like to see into the future? Sure. Why? I have a nosy streak and while the future itself sometimes scares me, knowing what it is for sure, doesn’t.
What show on Netflix did you binge watch embarrassingly fast?
Breaking Bad. I did it over a holiday weekend right before it’s last season. I’ll never do that again. Felt like my head was going to explode.
What will finally break the internet?
Humans, breaking the world. Or on a smaller scale me forgetting to pay my wi-fi bill again.
Favorite book you’ve written?
Sticky Moon. It’s my first. It’s also the only book of mine someone I truly loved, then lost, got to read. Small pieces of our relationship were scattered all over that book.
If you were a city, which city would you choose to be and why?
Venice, Italy. It’s strange, intimate, extraordinary, mysterious, beautiful but not exactly, conventionally so. It appeals to me. Think about it, there are NO cars at all, only boats, swimming, or walking will get you where you want to go. The streets themselves are like secret passages that lead to bigger, better secrets. People love it so much even though it’s not long for this world and clearly not meant to exist at all. It’s often crowded and its true inhabitants, the ones closest to it – not just visiting — are grumpy as all hell about its popularity. They want it all to themselves cause they know what they have, something unique…special.
If you could level up humans as a species, what stat or ability would you increase?
Perception or perhaps a better word is empathy. As far as I can tell that’s the coolest thing about being an artist who projects or tells stories about humanity through their art. That well of insight or awareness of others. That willingness to dive deep into their observations of the world and everyone in it. It’s not guaranteed but I would hope increasing that capability in people would give them better dreams or more expansive goals to shoot for that included more, not less people.
What’s the most crucial thing for a healthy relationship? Great sex. Actually, I meant to say GREAT SEX. Lol. Nah, just kidding. Okay, what I really mean is great… intimacy. A healthy relationship to me is all about intimacy. Having an affinity or rapport with someone only comes with familiarity and confidence that you really know them. Trusting someone enough to tell or hear the truth, and be completely vulnerable, that’s intimacy. To be so close that you know someone else’s mind almost as well as you know your own — that can see you through a lot. Good or bad.
What do a lot of parents do that screws up their kid?
Have them. Seriously, if there’s even a hint in your mind that you are going to royally fuck up the parenting part then step away from the bed until you have an opportunity to lay hands on the appropriate reproductive deterrents people. Not even remotely kidding about this.
Why are there so many people who are lonely? I think everybody is lonely to varying degrees because ultimately the only one you’re really forced to listen to ALL the time, anywhere you go, is you. Just the thought of that makes me lonely.
If you suddenly found out that your internal monologue for the last week was actually audible, how screwed would you be?
Not too bad actually. I tend to say what I think so I’m used to being in a certain amount of trouble all the time. And when I do manage to keep my mouth shut, which is often, you only have to look at my face to know what I’m thinking. I also meditate to keep my noisier self at bay.
An Excerpt From ‘Blackbirds’
BOSS Lounge was the single set’s hunting ground of nightclubs in Santa Barbara. A tight space, it seemed to be filled to all possible proportions by the time Elliott got there at about twenty minutes after midnight. The outdoor patio was the place for dancing, and the DJ was clearly settling in for a long string of seriously accessible dance hits. The crowd was feeling him and seemed to be in a bit of frenzy as they swayed, jumped, and pumped their hands in the air.
It wasn’t long before Elliott spotted Brian and Sydney. They were at the bar. Brian sitting on a stool with his arm casually strung around Sydney’s waist. They both were laughing and holding tall fruity looking drinks with straws appropriate to the beachside ambiance. Sydney had changed after dinner. She was wearing low-waist black pants with a simple grey midriff. She had on a lightweight black leather jacket but it was open and did nothing to hide the smoothness of her skin around her flat stomach and picture perfect navel. Elliott stood frozen, watching them from about twenty feet away. People were bumping into him, but he didn’t notice or care particularly. He was more interested in figuring out how he’d get Sydney out of there without causing a scene.
Then Brian whispered something in her ear. She nodded vigorously, and they were moving into the crowd and dancing. Elliott thought he’d had enough just seeing Brian’s hand so casually placed on Sydney’s waist, but he’d never seen her dance. He found he was both fascinated and incensed at the sight of her. It was like he was looking at someone else — some part of her he hadn’t met yet, like some pod creature had taken over Sydney and suddenly she was moving with a sensuality she’d never even hinted at before. Brian danced to her back, his long muscled arms out on either side of her, and Sydney was swaying in front of him. Her waist and hips seem to separate from each other and move independently from other still very noticeable parts of her body.
Fuck it. Maybe a scene was called for.
It was during that thought that Brian finally spotted him. Spotted him or felt his presence might be a more accurate description. Slowing his pace, Brian stood there for a moment watching Elliott watch them. Finally, he nodded and bent low to whisper in Sydney’s ear again. When he’d finished, her head whipped around, and when she spotted him standing across the patio, her smile was so huge Elliott almost forgot how pissed off he was.
Fighting the packed house, Sydney made her way towards him with a measured and unhappy Brian close behind.
“Elliott!!” Sydney grabbed both his arms and shook him jumping up and down slightly. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
He suspected she was pretty sloshed, but she did a good job of hiding it with youthful exuberance. Something she’d no doubt learned from watching Cyrus drink himself silly over the years.
“You have to dance with us. You must! But first,” Sydney pointed one finger in the air, “first I must go to the bathroom before I embarrass myself.”
Brandishing the finger back and forth at both of them, Sydney made one final command,
“Don’t either of you move from this spot. I’ll be right back.”
They both watched her go.
Brian spoke first.
“Hey Elliott, glad you made it out man.”
Elliott had never known what it felt like to have ice running through his veins until that moment.
“I thought we were all hitting the sack early, Brian.”
Brian shrugged, “Hey man, the plan changed. We did try to call you.”
“Yeah,” was all Elliott could manage.
“Can I ask you something, Ell?”
“Are you ever planning to tell her?”
“Tell who? Tell what?”
“Tell Sydney, man. Tell her you’re into her.”
“Shut the fuck up, Brian.”
“Oh, I see.”
“You’re irritating the fuck out of me right now.”
“Yeah, I can see that too. The question is how exactly am I doing that? Are you really trying to tell me you came all the way down here with your balls twisted because you’re on the ‘we should all be asleep by now patrol’? Man, if that’s the case then you are more fucked up than I ever imagined.”
Elliott took a step closer to him, “What did you just say to me?”
Brian raised both hands and backed away.
“I like my job way too much to fight you for her, Ell.”
“Maybe you ought to leave then.”
“I will,” Brian said, starting to turn away but not without a parting shot, “but Ell, you should stop playing at being Mr. Unattainable with her. I’d bet half my paycheck Sydney is into you too, but she thinks you’re friends,” Brian said the word ‘friends’ using air quotes and a half smile. “I guaran-dam-tee you she doesn’t think she could possibly have someone like you. Can you believe that shit? As special as that girl is, she has no fucking clue you’re ready to stab me in the heart for her right now on the damn dance floor.”
“Go if you’re going, Brian. Be in the hotel lobby at seven a.m.”
“Yes sir, boss man.”
And with that goodbye and a little salute, Brian took his leave.