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Tembe Denton-Hurst on Homebodies, Black Girls at Work, and Astrology

Tembe Denton-Hurst on Homebodies, Black Girls at Work, and Astrology

Tembe Denton-Hurst on Homebodies, Black Women at Work, and Astrology

To get a way of a author’s inventive and ethical ethos, look no additional than her sources of inspiration. “There have been loads of books that I used to be studying whereas I used to be writing Homebodies,” remembers Tembe Denton-Hurst. A number of notable titles included Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom, Coaching Faculty for Negro Ladies by Camille Acker, Heads of the Coloured Individuals by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and Right here Comes the Solar by Nicole Dennis-Benn. There are such a lot of Black girls whose work impressed me,” she says. They confirmed me what was potential on the web page.”

As a present author at New York Journal’s The Strategist, Denton-Hurst has made her first foray into the literary world together with her debut novel Homebodies. Impressed by occasions from her personal life, the story is about Mickey Hayward, a twenty-something journalist who unexpectedly will get laid off from her media job. Somewhat than sticking round in New York, she returns dwelling to Maryland to determine her subsequent transfer.

“After I was laid off on the finish of 2019 from my job,” says Denton-Hurst, “I felt very knocked off my path.” Being that she’s a Virgo, this sudden change took a toll. However not like Mickey, she started a job—at New York Journal—shortly after. “I didn’t miss a beat,” she says. “There’s no world the place I may’ve performed what Mickey did, however I recognized with these feelings and thought different individuals may relate, too.”

Under, Denton-Hurst speaks to about her debut, the completely different ways in which Black girls are anticipated to carry out, and why she hopes that her work will make its approach into your group chat conversations.

What was occurring in your life while you determined to write down Homebodies?

I used to be in Nicole Dennis-Benn’s writing workshop and wanted to show one thing in. We needed to write 5 pages and that is what started to pour out. I imagined it being a brief story, however Nicole mentioned, “No, this can be a novel.”

I all the time like to see which quotes authors preface their books with. Why did you select “We work. Lord do black women and black girls work,” by Tressie McMillan Cottom?

Initially, the working title for Homebodies was Girls Working, so this quote is the tenet of the guide. Clearly, there’s the precise bodily work, however then there’s additionally the emotional work that Mickey does in all the roles that she inhabits. As a Black lady, she feels so invisible—each to herself and to the establishment that she’s given herself over to. There’s one thing very heartbreaking about that. She’s so lonely. As girls on this business, we will agree that we give a lot of ourselves to the work, to the job, and to the business as a complete. And I wished to consider the ways in which Black girls carry out labor on each stage, whether or not that’s within the office or of their private lives.

Talking of Black girls acting at work, your latest essay on The Lower, “It Doesn’t Matter If We Behave,” is in keeping with this very subject. How’s the response been because it was revealed?

It’s been unbelievable and really sudden. I hoped that folks would really like it, however I didn’t suppose that they might reply in the best way that they did. I received so many messages from individuals who had been like, “I really feel so seen by this and I’m speaking to my mates about it within the group chat.” I used to be similar to, “Whoa,” as a result of the group chat is such a sacred place. And it’s fascinating as a result of Mickey goes by one thing very related within the guide. So I’m like, “Did I simply manifest this?” I believe there’s one thing to be mentioned for the work that evokes intimate conversations between individuals, particularly Black girls. The concept that is occurring within the group chat is the very best honor. I really like the concept that my writing is inspiring closed-door conversations, particularly among the many girls that I’m writing in the direction of.

“I really like the concept that my writing is inspiring closed-door conversations, particularly among the many girls that I’m writing in the direction of.”

You additionally say within the essay that as an alternative of going to remedy, you wrote a novel. How did this writing course of function a way of therapeutic for you on the time?

It allowed me to revisit feelings after which speak about them on the web page in a very sincere approach. I bear in mind the primary time once I was at my new job and my editor requested me to do one thing. I received so anxious. I used to be like, “Oh my God. They’re gonna fireplace me. They hate me right here.” It was solely in these moments that I acknowledged that I had not confronted a few of the emotions that I had leaving my previous job. Particularly as a result of I didn’t select that. I hadn’t totally processed that rejection as a result of I used to be already sitting in one other seat. So I used to be in a position to let Mickey break down and spiral out and be upset. That was actually validating for me.

I really like these moments that present her simply consuming and watching TV all day.

It was actually vital that we received to see Mickey’s interiority. Black girls don’t usually get the chance to take up that a lot area on the web page, or wherever. And right here’s a Black lady who’s by herself in these quiet moments and he or she’s simply nonetheless. She doesn’t know what she’s doing. She’s misplaced. There’s no path. I wished to have the ability to present that as a result of we by no means see it. They need us to all the time be working. I believe they need Black girls to all the time be working. I wished her to be like deeply human.

You talked about that you just had been a Virgo. What signal do you suppose Mickey can be?

Sagittarius solar, Virgo moon, Gemini rising, and Leo venus—as a result of she likes consideration and must be seen.

The guide isn’t nearly her skilled life; there’s additionally a love story that’s intertwined within the narrative. Why was this an vital component to incorporate?

I wished to speak about lesbian love. I wished to indicate the ladies which might be in my life and the ladies that exist in my sphere in a approach that I haven’t seen on the web page. I don’t usually see studs or masc girls within the issues that I’m studying. I wished to heart that. And that’s additionally the thing of Mickey’s need. I wished the like to be queer and I wished it to be Black. I wished it to be very unashamedly that. And it’s not a fantasy world as a result of that’s my actual life. My fiancée is a girl. I’m surrounded by feminine power day in and day trip. I wished to carry that world to the web page in a approach that I hadn’t seen earlier than. That was actually, actually vital for me to do.

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“Black girls don’t usually get the chance to take up that a lot area on the web page, or wherever.”

In case you had been to show Homebodies right into a restricted sequence or film, who would you solid as Mickey?

She needs to be plus-sized. I really feel like Valuable Lee would eat. I’ve by no means seen her in an appearing function, however she’s Mickey in my thoughts.

How are you feeling now that the guide is lastly being launched into the world?

I’m a ball of anxious power. I’m very excited, however on the identical time, it’s such a weak factor to do. It’s extra everlasting than an article and I’m additionally combating for area in a really saturated area of people who find themselves additionally writing very good, fascinating, and spectacular issues. It’s type of a mind-fuck. However I’m excited to speak to individuals about it. I’m trying ahead to that a part of it.

I believe the conversations that come from this guide can be so wealthy, particularly amongst Black girls.

That goes again to these group chat conversations that we had been speaking about earlier. I’ve even had just a few booksellers attain out to me since they’ve gotten the early copies and been like, “Oh my God, lady you wrote my life.” That’s such a feat. Even when the guide doesn’t promote 1,000,000 copies, that, to me, is a giant success.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

Headshot of Juliana Ukiomogbe

Juliana Ukiomogbe is the Assistant Editor at ELLE. Her work has beforehand appeared in Interview, i-D, Teen Vogue, Nylon, and extra.  

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