February 2007

Jill Conner Browne

A sassy queen speaks her mind
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Jill Conner Browne, the self-appointed Sweet Potato Queen, captured hearts from the start with her outrageously outspoken debut, The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love, which documented her exploits with a bunch of gal pals in Jackson, Mississippi, including taking over the local St. Patrick's Day parade dressed in green sequins and long gloves. Her best-selling, Southern-fried empire now features a series of books including The Sweet Potato Queen's Field Guide to Men: Every Man I Love Is Either Married, Gay or Dead; a stage musical in development, with book by Rupert Holmes, music by Melissa Manchester and lyrics by noted songwriter Sharon Vaughn; a reality show pitch; and a website with gaudy spud stuff. Doing so well for herownself, Browne celebrates the publication of The Sweet Potato Queens' First Big-Ass Novel by answering questions that many Queens-in-training want answered but are too-busy-being-fabulous to ask.

As the title makes clear, this is your first novel. Which makes us wonder: What's harder writing the truth or making things up?
Making things up is way harder. Closely akin to lying, it requires that one constantly remember what one has said previously. Makes me nervous.

How did you spend your time before becoming a bestseller?
Before I became a bestseller, I never got to sleep late; I had to work hard every single day even on Saturday and Sunday. I also had to clean my own house and take care of my daughter and my sick mama. I had to do all the grocery shopping and cooking and errand-running. There was never enough time to do it all, it seemed. Hey! I still have to do all that stuff what's the deal?

Who is the funniest person you've ever met?
My daddy.

The doorbell rings, and it's unexpected guests. Name three things you'd grab from the closet and fridge.
You're saying I have to let them in, right? Can't drop them in the moat with the alligators? OK, if I must then I'd just hit the fridge. I could feed 'em something that would entertain them it'd take forever to make myself presentable. Most people are perfectly willing to be distracted by good eats.

What do you have on your nightstand?
A book light, a glass of ice water, lip balm, and at the moment, a book by Dan Jenkins.

Thong or granny pants?
Sweet Potato Queens Never Wear Panties to Parties. It's a rule.

Why are only Southern women described as sassy?
Only Southern women would utter the word sassy. And even though I suppose we are, by definition, sassy, it's one of those words like zany and wacky that if a person uses them, it changes how I feel about them as human beings. Not in a good way. Those are display words only they were never intended to be used.

Have you ever had a literary catfight with your sister Judy?
I have never had any kind of fight with my seester, Judy; but, if we were going to fight, it would more likely be over bacon than literature.

A librarian called your first book heavy handed. If you met her, you'd say:
a) but I'll wake up sparkly and fabulous in the morning and you will still be dull
b) I'm about to open a big-ass can of queenly whoop on your bottom, and ermine won't help you now, or
c) sneer silently while tossing a hot pink boa across your shoulders

Well, how unkind of her! I have learned that no matter who you are and no matter what you have written, Somebody Somewhere Hates It. Whatever. As my dear friend Willie Morris once said in response to a caustic critic, I'm sure I don't know what people will be reading 500 years from now but I do feel fairly certain it will not be the Collected Criticisms of _____! I'm proud of my books . . . but the humor is just the vehicle by which the Greater Message is delivered. Bless her heart, she didn't even get the laughs and that's the easiest part.

Which celebrity should play you in your biopic?
Reba McEntire because she's tiny and redheaded and sings up a storm. She is everything I would have been had I gotten any of my druthers!

Tattoo? Where?
No tatts. Can't commit. I never owned a garment I wanted to wear every single day for the rest of my life.

Get the Book

The Sweet Potato Queens’ First Big-Ass Novel

The Sweet Potato Queens’ First Big-Ass Novel

By Jill Conner Browne
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9780743278270

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