Jazz-age Chicago comes to vibrant life in Denny S. Bryce’s evocative novel Wild Women and the Blues, which links the stories of an ambitious chorus girl and a modern-day film student, both coming to grips with loss, forgiveness, and the limitations—and surprises—of love. We spoke with author Denny S. Bryce about the inspiration for Wild Women and the Blues, her favorite audiobooks, and more!
“Why would I talk to you about my life? I don’t know you, and even if I did, I don’t tell my story to just any boy with long hair, who probably smokes weed. You wanna hear about me. You gotta tell me something about you. To make this worth my while.”Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
Several events inspired this story, but I will share only two (okay, three) reasons from my laundry list of inspirations. First, my maternal grandmother Ella Elizabeth. She arrived in this country (New York City) in 1923 from Montego Bay, Jamaica. Her life, her personality, and her humor will play a role in all the books I write. A few years ago, there was a video on social media of Alice Barker, a 102-year-old woman who was shown a film of herself as a young dancer some 70 years earlier—that gave me a ‘what if’ launching pad.
Finally, I must mention blues singer Alberta Hunter. When she was in her mid-80s, she was performing at a nightclub in Greenwich Village. I was a professional dancer by day and a waitress by night. My job was to bring Miss Alberta her tea, and we bonded over our mutual love of Chicago.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
The male narrator for Sawyer. It may not surprise some, but I was thrilled when I learned that Sawyer would be a male voice (of course, Honoree would be a female narrator). Remember, I’m a debut author, and it never crossed my mind that there would be two voices for these POVs.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?
Thus far, I have only heard the voices of the two narrators who will perform Wild Women and the Blues. What impressed me right away was how both quickly conveyed their understanding of how to grasp the character, then take what is on the page and emit it through the cadence of their voices. So yes, I am very much looking forward to “listening” to these artists give ‘sound’ to the main POV characters of Wild Women and the Blues, Honoree Dalcour and Sawyer Hayes.
Are you an audiobook listener? What are some of your favorite audiobooks?
I am an avid audiobook listener! Some of my favorites—well, there are many but I’ll focus on the most recent—include The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi, The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
Community: the role of indie bookstores has evolved to create a space where books are sold, of course, but also where authors and readers can connect. That mission is at the core of why independent bookstores and booksellers do what they do. Independent bookstores have been challenged the past year—and for many, they’ve had to figure out how to survive as well as keep focused on their mission. That’s critical for us authors who rely on indies and booksellers to sell our books and help us find readers.
Anything else to share with us?
As a former theater and dance major—before my career shift to public relations and marketing and now, debut author :)—I have loved the power of listening and creating character through voice.
Header photo by Valerie Bey Photography