Delores Thornton

Delores Thornton
Ida Mae

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
January 2002

1. Who is Delores Thornton?

Delores Thornton is the seventh, of thirteen children born to Chester and Daisy Lewis. She is a native and life-long resident of Indianapolis, Indiana. The mother of four grown daughters, and the grandmother to six, Thornton enjoys family time.

2. What made you chose to write novels?

I was inspired to write. I'm proud to say that I knew nothing about the process when I first put pen to paper. That's why I was so consumed, I realized that it was a greater power behind my pen.

3. How long have you been writing?

I started writing poetry in 1982, that was the year I lost my Dad. And writing short poems was a form of therapy for me. It was all that I could do to get through that period. Everyone around me was crying and going through painful experiences, but all I could do was write poems.

4. How did you come about the character Ida Mae?

Ida Mae was and is a very special character to me for she was my first. And she's actually a lot of different people and personalities that I've run across in life. I tried to come up with a name that would fit the period and the region for which I was writing. Since it was 1950's, in the South, the name Ida Mae fit just fine. People have asked if I'm Ida Mae, and I'm truly not. The only thing that we both share is our love of Country Music. And coming from the African American experience I always had to explain that.

Well...I come from a family of 13 children. We only had one radio, and you had to listen to whatever was on. Since I had older siblings who liked different types of music, I was exposed to it all. Jazz, blues, classical, big band, gospel, and yes, even country! And I feel blessed to enjoy all music, as well as other areas in the arts.

5. How did you come about the songs that Ida Mae wrote?

The poems that Ida Mae wrote were just to move the story along. For instance I knew that I wanted her to enter a country jingle contest, so I had to give her something to enter.

6. How did you come about the poems that character Maxey Lee James wrote in the book "Ida Mae"?

The poems that Maxey Lee wrote were poems that I'd written years before and kept in my poetry journal. Some of them I'd written when I was dealing with difficult issues. It was a challenge to adapt them to something a young boy would write. I have a gifted daughter who had won awards in poetry as young as the second grade. I tried to have Maxey Lee accepted as a child prodigy; readers loved him, so I guess I succeeded.

7. What inspired you to write the book "Babe"?

My mother asked me to write her story. Although her birth name is Daisy, her nickname is Babe. At first I was hesitant about a non fiction work, but she was adamant. I took all the information she provided, did additional research, then fictionalized it. It was fun, but I had to make certain that I kept all the fact straight.

8. Both cd's for the books Ida Mae and Babe are country music. What made you chose Country Music?

As I answered in an earlier question, I love country music, and that was an important element of the Ida Mae story. Babe, on the other hand, is Swamp Rock Boogie, as relayed to me by the Exact Change Band. They're the ones who wrote, performed and arranged both titles. These songs tell the complete story of the books, and I'm a pioneer in this area. Although a large number of authors have companion CD's, with their works, I've not heard of any that comes with a song written specifically for the books. And I've offered this since Ida Mae came with a 'cassette tape' back in 1997.

9. Are there any of your personalities in any of your character from "Ida Mae" and "Babe"?

I don't think any of my characters borrowed traits from me, but Vivian, a character in Babe, is also an aspiring author. My characters are a blend of various people that I've grown to love over the years, and even some that I've grown to hate. Added to this mixture are totally fictitious beings.

10. What message would you like readers to receive from reading "Ida Mae"?

I would like for people to understand that life is about picking up the pieces and moving on. Ida Mae endured enormous tragedies in her lifetime, yet she never became bitter, and we should take a long look at that. And along this journey we should try to help someone, for it is more important to give of ourselves!

11. What massage would you like readers to receive from reading "Babe"?

The underlying message in Babe is that we will all need help at some point in our lives, and we should not be ashamed to seek it when that time arises. Be it therapy for a failing marriage, broken home, abuse or mental illness, we should allow science to help us. This book is primarily for African Americans who are less likely than other ethnic groups to seek counseling and therapy.

12. When will your next book the sequel to "Babe" be out?

My next work will actually be a collabrative effort with members of the organization that I founded, African American Authors Helping Authors, Inc. It's titled, Let's Stay Together, and will be in bookstores in the Spring of 2002. It's the story of 20 AA women who meet online and start an authors' networking group. They have chat/cat fights, emails, IM's, and snail mail debates. But now they must all meet for their Founders' Day Celebration. But will they embrace each other, or mace each other. AND...the sequel to Babe, is Anybody Seen Junebug? This title will be released in the Fall of 2002.

13. Explain the atmosphere you require to write.

I don't need a certain area, or place or time of day! I write in the morning when the house is quiet. I write in the evening when the house is alive and busy. I write when the music is playing, or when it's not playing. I get up from a sound sleep to write. I make mental notes as I'm driving in my car. I write always, because I love to write.

14. What made you want to start your own publishing company "Marguerite Press"?

After I had completed my debut novel, Ida Mae, I looked around the library for books on submitting it to tradional publishers. I found out that you must be prepared to get at least 100 rejections before someone recognizes merit in your work. I opted to forego the rejections, and invested in myself and started Marguerite Press. I named the company Marguerite because that is a flower out of the Daisy family. And Daisy is my mother's name. The little book on my logo just signifies small press publication. And I might add that my logo is under Service Mark Protection.

15. What organizations are you a member of?

I'm a member of numerous organizations, and I'll attempt to list the most important ones here. I'm an honorary member of Journey's End Literary Club; Cyber-member of the Good Book Club of Texas; Black Writers on Tour; RAWSISTAZ, and BWA-ChristianLit@yahoogroups. I'm also on the Board of Directors of the Etheridge Knight Inc. And finally, I'm the founder of African American Authors Helping Authors, Inc., a powerful networking group!

16. What awards have you won?

I suppose awards are nice to win, but I like to measure my success by the number of people that I can help with the writing and networking process. To this end I write a syndicated column titled, How To Self-publish That Great Novel Without Going Nuts! It can be found at;, and And...I received the '2000 Book Of The Year-Fiction Award' from UBUS (United Brothers And United Sisters, in Richmond, Virginia)