An Interview with Edward Kelsey Moore on His Debut Novel, “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat”

Guest Author: Edward Kelsey Moore

ed moore by Laura Hamm photo 2 hi res - Copy It’s no wonder that Edward Kelsey’s Moore debut, The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, has been well-received by critics and readers. It’s an extremely terrific and intriguing story of three powerful women and their deep friendship. Published in more than eight languages, this debut novel was also praised by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal. Moreover, the novel has also been optioned for the film adaptation, in association of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Edward Kelsey Moore resides and writes in Chicago, where he has also enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a cellist. He has contributed to several literary magazines, including African American Review, Indiana Review, and Inkwell. Today, we are pleased to feature an interview with Edward Kelsey Moore. In this interview, we will get behind-the-scenes look at how much work went into making The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, such an amazing novel and who inspires him to write this book, and many other interesting questions. Here are the excerpts:

First of all, congratulations to you for being in the list of NY Times bestselling authors, and winning the 2014 “First Novelist Award” by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). What does it mean to you?

Thank you. I never imagined that I would have a book on the NYTimes Bestseller list. And I was especially thrilled by the award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.  Like many authors, I spent many hours in libraries during my childhood, and the librarians I met growing up introduced me to books that changed my life. It was a real honor to know that librarians thought highly of my novel. There is really no way for writers to know if their work will be embraced or ignored by readers. So the success of The Supremes At Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat has been a wonderful surprise.

Your debut novel, “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat” embraces the lives of three devoted allies in small-town Indiana. How did you first get the idea for this book? What was the inspiration? Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences, or is it all fiction?

The first idea for the novel came from a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago. While we both had great fathers who provided strong male role models for us, we each felt that the bravest person we knew was a woman. That made me think about how courageous men and courageous women are often judged very differently. The same trait that is praised in a man is often criticized in a woman. I imagined what life might be like for a woman who had no fear at all. What kind of friendships, love relationships, and life would she have? That fearless woman I wondered about became Odette, the main character of the book.

The characters and events in the book are all fictional, but I did draw upon my own life from time to time. The relationships between the women in my novel are based upon my memories of how the women in my family interacted with each other and with their friends. The best storytellers I knew as a child were women and I was definitely influenced by them.

Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication, and perhaps the most memorable part of that journey?

I began writing short stories about twelve years ago. Several of my stories were published in literary magazines and I later put them together in a collection. I quickly learned that agents and publishers were not interested in story collections from unknown writers. The agents who were nice enough to respond to me all said that I should write a novel, so I gave it a try. My first attempt was a terrible mystery novel that no one will ever see. Then I wrote The Supremes

I submitted the novel to several agents and each of them rejected it. After each rejection, I revised the book and tried to make it better.  When my current agent read it, he was very enthusiastic and he found the right publisher for it very quickly.

My favorite moment of my writing career is walking from my home to put zczcmy first completed story in the mailbox. I had spent many years starting writing projects and not finishing them, so I was incredibly proud of myself that day. I think of that moment as the official start of my writing career.  Even with all of the wonderful things that have happened since the publication of The Supremes, that walk to the corner mailbox with my first story in my hand is still the most memorable experience.

How did you come up with such an attention grabbing title?

I borrowed the title from a short story that I wrote about a woman sharing gossip with her friends in a diner. I used some of that story in the novel and the title came along with it. To be honest, when I was writing the book I assumed that the title would change eventually. I always felt that I would find a better title for it one day, but I never thought of one.

What is the central theme of the book?

I think it is a book about friendship and how friendships, especially very long-lasting ones, are as important in shaping our lives as any other relationships we might have. 

The book has been highly successful and released in several other countries. How does it feel to know that your work will be read around the world?

The positive reception to the book outside of the United States has been very exciting. The best part of it has been that people have written me from all around the world telling me that characters from this fictional small-town community are just like members of their families. It is a reminder that people really are the same everywhere.

How has your life changed since the book came out?

My life has changed in so many ways that it’s hard to describe how different my life is now. The main change is that I now see myself as a writer. For many years, I thought of myself as a musician with a writing hobby. After the book came out, I began to see myself as a writer who also happened to be a musician. That was a major psychological shift and I’m still getting used to it. 

Your book came out a couple of months ago and it’s been getting really good reviews. What has been the best criticism given to you as an author?

I have read very few of the reviews. The only reviews I’ve read have been the ones that have been sent directly to me in letters and emails. I listened carefully to criticism during the revision process and I used that criticism to make the work better. But after the writing was finished, I didn’t look at reviews. I feel that if I allow myself to be happy about the good reviews, I also have to feel bad about the negative reviews. So I ignore all of them.

What did you hope to educate readers on or achieve by writing The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat?

My goal is more to entertain than to educate. But I am pleased that many readers have come away from reading the book with images of black people, especially black women, that are different from the very limited and often stereotypical images that are so common in American culture.

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

Because I am very extroverted and I tend to be the last person to leave a party, people might be surprised to know that I am happiest when I’m alone in my garden. I’m not an especially good gardener, but I love it. Also, I think people might be surprised to learn that, even though I have worked as a classical musician for many years, I always listen to folk music when I am writing, never classical. Folk music is so direct and emotional that it puts me in the perfect frame of mind for writing. 

Do you read in your spare time? What’s your favorite genre to read? 

I read all the time. I don’t really have a favorite genre. What I read depends upon my mood. I enjoy comic writing when I am stressed out. I enjoy mysteries when I’m traveling. When I am writing a lot, I try to read books with denser and more descriptive language because it reminds me of new ways to depict the world.

Can you tell us about what you are working on currently? What books can we look forward to seeing from you in the next year or two?

I am currently writing a book that continues the story of The Supremes At Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat. I hope to finish it within the next few months. After that, I would like to return to working on a play that I began some time ago. I’ve also outlined a novel about two suburban American families—one black, one white—in the 1970s that I’m eager to begin writing.

Any parting words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

Read as many good books as you can. And never give up. If you keep with a project until the end, fantastic things can happen.

Thank you so much for such a wonderful interview.

For more info about Edward Kelsey Moore, Kindly visit his website: http://www.edwardkelseymoore.com/

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