What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I have no writing background. I read somewhere that you should write about what you know, so I took that and ran with it.
I started typing notes on my book, Cry Purple, a few years ago in college, but I recently lost my job and found myself back in the world seeking work and finding my past once again being a barrier for employment. I also had my newfound disability to contend with. So I thought, why not make use of this time, to not only share my journey to this point, but to educate the mainstream about the preconceived notions people have of homelessness, addiction, street corner prostitution, open adoption, parenting, and prison, as well as blindness.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
I love to write and do so often. I have a huge file. One is stuff to use for a book, and another is stuff it was just great to write.
You know I’m blind. I had both my eyes taken out, and folks really seem puzzled that I wrote, being that I can’t see. I did all my work on a computer using adaptive technology that converts text information to speech.
I get up early in the morning to write before the world takes over. Sometimes I’m in the mood to write and my writing is great. Sometimes I have to make myself write and it’s not so great!
Again, I write about whatever tickles my fancy that day. Then I choose to keep it or blog it, or just save it and figure it out later.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
What draws you to write in that genre?
I think I write naturally in a narrative style. But here’s how Cry Purple came about. I had started writing my life’s journey, at least an outline of it, and felt overwhelmed trying to write one long story and make it all connect. Then a dear friend suggested that I just tell a story at a time, as though I was having coffee with a friend and sharing that experience with them. I did that and found it was much easier for me to take on the task that way, writing a group of standalone stories that just share one experience at a time from my life.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
Current projects? Wow, let me see. I seem to be all over the place. First of all, I wrote my book when I lost my job, so one of my main projects right now is to find work. As most people know, that can be a job in itself.
I’m working on the overturning of our state’s lifetime food stamp ban for convicted drug offenders, and if it is voted out of committee, that will take a lot of my time this spring. This is the fifth year working to overturn this bill in our state, so if it does not make it again this year, we’ll do it again next year!
I’m also co-founder of a homeless community, Without Walls, set up outside with the homeless. It’s a wonderful project, and I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s still developing. We’ve done an outside event, but for a number of years, I did a little trunk ministry, taking brown bag lunches out to the streets, to prostitutes, homeless people, and addicts. Now that has been taken a step further, with a more established goal to help develop relationships with our homeless friends and gather information so we can help fill in the gaps where the system has breakdowns. I am also finding myself able to use the years of my being a street corner prostitute to be a voice for this underserved population with society having many misled views on the culture.
I feel that my journey of being a homeless, street corner hooker for seventeen years, and addicted to crack, really prepared me to be a voice for these populations. I try to not let my blindness stop me!
I am also a proud single mom to a wonderful little boy. Now to be a blind mom on top of that – indeed, blindness puts a twist on motherhood, but it keeps my life full!
What are your writing plans for the future?
There are a couple of things I’m working on: one is a cookbook called Easy-Peasy Cooking: So Easy a Blind Blonde Can Do It. It will feature very simple recipes for those who have not yet mastered cooking skills and for those on a budget. It should be out sometime in the fall. And I’m working on a book that is a deeper look into my life as an addict and prostitute. That won’t be ready until sometime next year. I’ve also thought about writing more about being a blind, single mom.
Where can people find out more about you?
Well, there are a couple of places. My website, www.crypurple.com, has some blog posts, some links to media coverage, a little video of me and my son, and photos too.
Then here is a really good place to read a short summary of the book, some reviews from readers, and find quick links to several buying sites. The book is for sale in e-book format and print, and is available worldwide from Amazon. http://www.dvorkin.com/cmcdonald/index.html