Louisiana native and author, Mrs. Collins is a local writer. She is working hard to share her Louisiana Creole heritage through literature to the world. I was able to conduct an interview with Mrs. Collins the Southwest Louisiana native currently living in New Orleans about her most recent work, Celestial Blue Skies.
1. Mrs. Collins, tell me a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Loreauville, Louisiana. I have eleven brothers and sisters. I am married with two sons. I’ve worked as an English teacher in the past. Now, I am an Educational Diagnostician for Jefferson Parish Schools. I spend my free time reading books and blogs and writing. I am somewhat of a reclusive person. I don’t get out much other than work, church, and the children’s activities. I am a passionate person about human rights and animal rights. I hate child abuse of any kind. I love gardening, but I haven’t been able to do much of that, so I’ve hired a gardener. I love traveling. My favorite place is New York because it is so artsy like New Orleans. I love the arts, and I support the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts. They were the first to publish an excerpt from my novel in Louisiana Endowment for the Arts. I would encourage everyone to donate to them. They are awesome in providing culture and literacy throughout Louisiana. I was a member of the Alvar Writer’s group led by Lee Grue from New Orleans, Louisiana. She has really helped me through this journey.
2. Please tell our audience where your passion of writing comes from and what titles you have written?
My passion for writing comes from my rich heritage of Creole story tellers. I have a lot of people in my family who love to tell stories including my great Uncle Romiere Auzenne. He died about eleven years ago. He told me the etiological tale The Curse of the Mulatto which was the title of Celestial Blue Skies at one time. I changed the title because it seemed that the novel was a horror novel, and I didn’t want to offend others. My uncle told me the stories of Boukee and Lapin which many people know as the Brer Rabbit tales. The stories were told in French by slaves. My big sister Melissa Thomas used to tell me wonderful tales about Cushma the devil that would ride women. He is a sex devil. She was the best story teller. I am a great listener and teller of tales. Fiction is my passion. Celestial Blue Skies is the first novel that I have completed. I am still working on A Vampire in My Farm town Utopia. I’ve written poetry “What Would America Do if We Talked About Poverty.” I write short stories “The Pink Flamingo.” I have written an essay that comes from a nonfiction book that I never completed entitled The Last of the Traiteurs and Tea Men.
3. The story of Celestial Blue Skies seems like a great complex Creole story, where did the idea come from, does it relate to your personal life?
Celestial Blue Skies came from my imagination. However, all stories that we tell have our fingerprints. It’s a story mostly about women. Women like Maymay come completely from my imagination, but it was inspired by the strong women in my life. I’ve always had very strong spirits living among me who have inspired me. It is told mostly through the eyes of Celeste Bastille who comes from my imagination. However, a few chapters are told from the point of view of other women in the story. As I said, I love stories, and I’ll listen to anyone’s story. This novel is about telling stories and listening. Many people who have read my novel or the excerpt from Louisiana Cultural Vistas love my character Tut. Tut is someone everyone woman wants to be. Every woman has a little of Tut in them. She wants to be free and have fun. Tut is known around town for the wrong reasons. She is known as the town whore or petain. She is mentally ill, and Celeste must help Maymay her grandmother take care of children and the house. At the end of the story, there is tragedy, but just like every good Creole family, the family sticks together and overcomes the tragedy.
4. Do you think audiences will really be able to connect with Celestial Blues Skies, if so, how?
Audiences will really connect with Celestial Blue Skies because it is a story about family sticking together no matter what. It has strong Creole people with good Creole names like Bumblebee, T-Red, and T-Man. But the story is more than just about being Creole. It is about being human. It is about what makes people human. No one is perfect. People make mistakes in the story, but there is resiliency, and everyone makes life work. It has strong, positive male characters, strong female characters. People look to the skies and the spirits, and their ancestors to help them through this thing call life. When life is hard, that’s all we can do, look to the skies. I hope that people will read this book because it has a good message. I don’t care if they buy it; check it out from the library or whatever. I want them to read it because how many books about Creoles written by Creoles are out there? Not many. I hope that some Creole girl or boy reads the book, and they are inspired to write and tell their story because although we have funny accents, different diets, and an exotic culture, our stories should be told as well. I will be the first to read them because as I said, I love stories.
The book, Celestial Blue Skies will be ready for puchase March 18th, to pre-order and to learn more visit: celestialblueskies.blogspot.com
Interview conducted by: Elroy Johnson IV
Like US on Facebook (CLICK BELOW)