Friday, June 15, 2012

Teresa Roberson Gets Lost in a Story

Perhaps being born in Okinawa, Japan back on September 7th, 1970 foreshadowed the international lifestyle that I would eventually lead after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992. Armed with my double major degrees in Biology and Mass Communications, I left my comfort zone of life in the United States to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in the East African country of Tanzania.
I taught biology and math in Mwanza at Nganza Secondary School and West African dance after school.  Fully aware that Id immersed myself in a life-altering experience, I wrote extensively in twelve legal pads that I had brought with me. Without a plethora of time-saving devices, I ironically had a tremendous amount of time on my hands to write, read and observe the world around me. I wrote very long, descriptive letters to my       friends and family about my experiences and only a few short stories, most of which I lost along my travels.                                                                                                                      
Upon reflection, I can clearly see that my Peace Corps Volunteer set three on-going themes in my life: a frequent writing habit, international traveling/teaching and maintaining my signature dreadlocks.

My first book, Tribe of One, took seven years to complete because I wasnt in the habit of working on it every day even though I wrote in a journal nearly every day. The truth of the matter is that I dont remember a day where I wasnt writing, regardless of the purpose. (Author photo taken by Jaime Torres.)

Single, sexy, powerful women unite. In new author Teresa Y. Robersons outrageously naughty debut, Tribe of One, the band gets together to sing a common refrain. Yes, where have all the good men gone? For anyone who loves a saucy and daring tale of female espionage and uncanny spy tactics with great sex scenes, this is a book that shows how one woman exacted a smart model to find Mr. Right only to discover that romantic happiness cannot be reduced to a formula. 

Salome is a high school biology teacher. She loves her students. She loves her work. She loves her friends. Heck, life really is good. Still, when it comes down to it and Salome shows her cards what she really wants is a good man to share her life with. This isnt to say that shes willing to roll over or play dead or dumb, but she is nearly certain that there must be a man looking for a smart woman. One would hope, but in this tale of modern twisted love in all its folly, she decides to take a methodic, well-considered, nearly scientific approach. As she outlines a course of action to attract Mr. Right and maintain her IQ, her fiery, funny friends Jenna and Stacey witness a bold transformation. If it all comes down to sex and happenstance, then maybe being a tribe of one isnt so bad. Maybe happily ever after means sticking to your guns and being content with the woman youve become.


ALEXA: Thanks for joining us today, Teresa. How often do you get lost in a story?
TERESA: Nearly every night. I keep a pile of books and magazines beside my bed and I’ll read a little from each one. Sometimes, I’ll get to captivating part in one book or magazine and not make it around everything in the pile, but it’s a wonderful habit. It’s not as confusing as it sounds. Plus, I’ll make some connections that I may not have if I didn’t read like this. I discovered a few months ago that I probably named a character “Struggle” because that word is in just about everything I’m reading! That’s a little weird since no two things in the pile are on the same topic and it’s a mix of fiction and nonfiction.

ALEXA: Wow! I wish I could do that! Whats the first book you remember reading?
TERESA: Hmm, probably Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. My older sisters read Dr. Seuss’ books to me all the time. Once when I was four, I sat on the back porch and picture read a Dr. Seuss book to my childhood dog, Sandy. I “read” so beautifully that one of our neighbors stopped working in his yard and just listened.

ALEXA: Whats your favorite cartoon character?
TERESA: I’m a big Looney Tunes fan in general. As a matter of fact, my childhood nickname was Tweety Bird because my family said that, as the youngest child, I had the loudest mouth!

ALEXA: What was the first story you remember writing?
TERESA: Ms. MacMillion, the most creative elementary teacher I ever had, assigned us to write and illustrate a story. In my roughdraft, I wrote an overly complicated story about a sunflower named Mildred who was grown to enter a “April Showers Bring May Flowers” contest. Yet, I included some bad guys stealing Mildred before the contest and a host of other plot twists. Ms. MacMillion wisely advised me to focus only on Mildred being in the contest since it was supposed to be a SHORT story.

ALEXA: Is writing or story-telling easier for you?
TERESA: (laughing) It’s probably easier for someone to read my writing than listen to my stories! I have an arsenal of stories since I’ve lived/traveled around the world…Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, S. Africa, S. Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Dubai,  Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador. I was even born in Japan, but I don’t remember any of it since I was a baby when we left.

ALEXA: Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?
TERESA:I listen to an eclectic radio station called Radioparadise.  I highly recommend it and I play it in my classroom. One of my seniors wrote me a thank you card for being her science teacher for three years and stated that that radio station will always be burned into her brain.  Not a bad state for a teenaged brain to be in, trust me.

ALEXA: Whats the first thing you do when you finish writing a book?
TERESA: Initially I’m a little nervous because I doubt that I’m truly done. Then I feel a little lost because I no longer have a WIP to work on every day. After that, I adjust and take time off until the next story agitates/motivates me to start the daily writing habit again.

ALEXA: What do you do to unwind and relax?
TERESA: At home, I enjoy sipping red wine, usually Malbec or some red wine blend, along with dark chocolate. When I’m out, I enjoy dancing (salsa, tango, samba), swimming, bikram yoga or training capoeira.
ALEXA: What's up next for you, Teresa?
TERESA: The Adventures of Infinity and Negativa is the second novel that Im working on. Its about a creative, mathematically-inclined waitress, Nuru, whos lost her zest for life. As Nuru attempts to think her way out of her dead-end situation, she daydreams about certain aspects of her life, using fraternal twin math characters, Infinity and Negativa, to play out the mathematical consequences of her situations.

Im also organizing a monthly cultural event called Austin Writers Roulette. This is the type of event that I wish already existed so I wouldnt have to organize myself! Essentially, Im lining up a different mix of writers every second Sunday to read any genre they write, which fits with the monthly theme. Artists also have the opportunity to set up a table and sell their promotional items.

GOTTA ASK, GOTTA ANSWER: How long have you had your dreads? I started dreadlocking my hair on January 13th, 1993. I made a note of the date because I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania at the time and I knew that my friends and family would be very surprised. The area where I lived had intermittent electricity and running water. I remember putting a perm in my hair only once and as luck would have it, the water had stopped running. My roommate and I had prepared for this and had water stored in several 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids. Still, I was so conscientious about maximizing my water usage that I stood with my head hanging above the Western style toilet just so I could both flush the toilet as I rinsed my hair. That was the last time I permed my hair. I started wearing my hair in braids and twists. The last time I braided my hair, I kept them in and let my dreads form.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Teresa! I've enjoyed getting to know you better. Good luck with both books!


  1. Hi Alexa and Teresa,

    Wow, Teresa! You've had a very interesting life. Thanks for sharing all that and telling us about your book.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kristin. I think being the youngest in my family helped foster the "entertainer" in me!

  2. Thanks for sharing! You've led such a fascinating life!!!

  3. Thanks, Kristin and Julie for stopping by! I thought the same thing when I was preparing the interview.

  4. Welcome to GLIAS, Teresa. I have to agree with the others, what an interesting life. I bet you're filled with lots of wonderful tales. And your book sounds awesome!! Best of luck with it.


    1. Thanks for having me...perhaps one day I'll publish some parts of my journals. I have a few letters posted on my blog when I lived in Egypt and Mexico.

  5. Hi, Teresa, oh my gosh, we've had such interesting guests of late. Tribe of One sounds fascinating. I love smart characters, especially powerful role models. Adding this to my TBR list and off to tweet. Best wishes.

  6. My last comment disappeared into cyberspace, but I said, "I love Tweety Bird, too." Great interview. I knew you two should get together. Loved learning more about you, Teresa.

    1. Y'know, they just don't make 'em like Looney Tunes anymore. As an adult, I pick up on punchlines that flew over my head as a child. That kind of subtlety has been lost in the typical Saturday morning cartoons.

  7. Teresa -

    You are intimidatingly interesting! (And I LOVE Tweety).

    And, WOW, looking over the other comments this seems to be a theme! Thanks so much for sharing a slice of yourself with us!

    1. Funny you should use the word "intimidating". When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer and had more than 24 hours a day on my hands, I would write (by hand, gasp!)very long descriptive letters. I wanted to share my experience but also receive letters from home, which were real morale-boosters. What I discovered is that many friends and family members were intimidated and felt that since they couldn't write as well or didn't have anything as "interesting" to say. What they didn't realize that just showing someone that you're thinking of them is such a gift. So, thanks for taking the time to stop by!

  8. ¡Qué interesante! I'm enjoying Tribe of One.

    1. Hmm, could that be why I haven't seen you at tango lately? Glad you're enjoying Tribe.