Write Now Literaryis pleased to be organizing a book tour for Josephine Baker’s Last Dance by Sherry Jones. The tour will run February 25-March 1, 2019. Book your own tour here.
Read the first chapter
About Sherry Jones
Author and journalist Sherry Jones is best known for her international bestseller The Jewel of Medina. She is also the author of The Sword of Medina, Four Sisters, All Queens, The Sharp Hook of Love, and the novella White Heart. Sherry lives in Spokane, WA, where, like Josephine Baker, she enjoys dancing, singing, eating, advocating for equality, and drinking champagne.
From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.
Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.
In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.
With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.
Sherry, tell us about yourself?
I’m a product of the American South, which I left as soon as I could. Having grown up in a military family, I’m accustomed to traveling, and have lived in the Southwest, Northeast, and, now, Northwest U.S. I have always loved to read since learning on my mother’s knee when I was 4. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was very young, but worked as a journalist for 30 years before writing my first novel, THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, which provoked death threats but became an international best-seller. I also work as a freelance writer for technology companies and a travel, food, and wine writer. I play classical piano, dabble in languages (Spanish, French, and Arabic so far), am happily single, love my friends and community, and am planning a trip around the world in 2020.
Tell us about your book?
JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE is a biographical novel that explores how the first black superstar, Josephine Baker, transformed from a needy young entertainer raised in poverty and greedy for money and love to a heroic fighter against racism: as a spy for the French Resistance during World War II, U.S. civil rights activist in 1951, and mother to a “Rainbow Tribe” of children whom she adopted from cultures around the world to demonstrate that hatred is not innate, but learned.
What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading your book?
I hope JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE will contribute to the national and global conversation about racism: past, present, and future. I know that I learned many shocking things as I researched the book. But also, on a purely personal level, I hope readers will be inspired by Josephine Baker’s story and her example of what one person can do to make a positive difference in the world. She was so incredibly courageous, and her life story sets a bold and daring example for us all.
What inspired you to write this book?
All my books are inspired by my own desire to contribute to the conversation about the issues that most concern women: oppression, patriarchy, religion (and women’s struggle for equality in the Christian and Muslim religious traditions), family, work, race, gender roles, and more. I think biographical fiction is a perfect platform for this exploration. I choose my protagonists according to what they and their lives can teach us today.
In fact, when I first read about Josephine Baker, I felt ambivalent. Her oldest “adopted” son (she never formally adopted him), Jean-Claude Baker, wrote a biography after she died that, while filled with invaluable factual details, portrayed her most unflatteringly. He even saw her work as a spy and outspoken anti-segregationist as self-serving: she loved the excitement and the attention, he said. I asked myself, “Do I really want spend the next several years of my life with this woman?” I read a few more books about her, though, and came to deeply admire her. She risked everything, and lost it all, for the
What’s next for you?
I’m researching a novel that I hope will contribute to the conversation about gender identity.
How can someone get a copy of the book?
Published by Simon and Schuster’s Gallery Books, it’s available online and in libraries and bookstores around the country. Barnes and Noble and Target stores both carry it currently.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?
JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE is structured around her last performance, which was a 50-year retrospective of her life in show business. The program didn’t follow her life chronologically and included several scenes that never occurred, so figuring out how to make my story work took me several drafts. My editor, Kate Dresser, was such a big help that I dedicated the book to her.
Did you have to do any special research for your book?
Darn it, I had to visit Paris twice and New York once. J
Just for fun
Coffee or tea?
Coffee with honey and cream.
Lights on / lights off?
3 things you never leave home without?
Good cheer, a sense of adventure, a good book.
Sleep in or get up early?
Either, depending on how much fun I had the night before.
3 celebrity crushes?
Josephine Baker, Julia Sweeney, Oprah, Joyce Carol Oates. I know, that’s four!
Tell us something no person knows about you.
I was French in a former life.
Any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Garbage in, garbage out, so read only the best.
Any message to your followers?
Please write to me! It gets lonely in here. I promise to write you back.
Thanks Sherry for visiting my blog and much success on your tour.
Purchase copies Amazon
Tour organized by Write Now Literarywww.wnlbooktours.com