Stephanie Powell Watts

American writer

Stephanie Powell Watts is an American author.

Stephanie Powell Watts 2017.jpg


  • Coco Chanel said something like, “When you’re getting ready to go out, take off one thing.” I think it’s similar with dialogue. Cut it off. Don’t say too much, because then it gets to a place where it’s not natural. Most people don’t go on and on for sentences in real life. Also, when two characters are in a space that’s emotionally raw, they can’t always articulate everything. They’re talking, but not saying the right things. Another thing is to never let people directly answer each other’s questions if you’re trying to create tension.
  • Absolutely has the particularity of African-American experience. But I feel strongly that this kind of experience is not so different from other people’s experiences. This is about a particular time and place, but I think there are so many other resonances here to other kinds of experiences. And that to me is the beauty of reading. As a reader, you know the gut of it and say, ‘I get this,’ and I’ve felt like that, too.
  • Humor is absolutely necessary to keep going…So many of the people in my family and my community were wonderful storytellers. They would tell stories about just awful things that happened to them. But their humor made what happened into their own kind of triumph.
  • I think it is a natural impulse to look to your own past and history to discover the stories that move and inspire you. The problem is that the past is nebulous and waiting for a shape. What ultimately gives it form and context is the present. That’s the part of writing inspired by personal history that is exciting to me.

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