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Novelist Pearl Cleage 

... and her book Baby Brother's Blues

When her book What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day was inducted into Oprah's Book Club, author and playwright Pearl Cleage went from being a literary local hero to a nationally recognized superstar almost overnight. Since then, Cleage, who's set to release a new novel Feb. 28, has used her high profile to benefit Atlanta-based institutions such as Spelman College, where she serves as a Cosby endowed professor.

How did being inducted into Oprah's Book Club change things for you?

It didn't change the way I approached writing. I was already an established writer and I had been writing for a long time professionally before she picked my book. I imagine I had a different experience than I would if I had been 22 years old. But it really was wonderful for me because it brought my work to millions of people all at one time. Her audience is very passionate about reading and they wrote me great letters about my book -- what they liked, and what they would have changed had they wrote it!

What's the story behind your new book, Baby Brother's Blues?

It's my third book set in West End and picks up with some of the characters from the other novels. This one deals with a character named Blue Hamilton and his wife, Regina, who got married a couple of books ago, and now I'm exploring some of the things they're involved with in the neighborhood.

You spent a good number of years working as a newspaper columnist. Any plans to write more columns?

I really miss it. I miss the ability to fuss at the president when he makes me angry! I'm always very conscious of politics, so this is definitely a time when I have some strong opinions about what's going on. I feel like I've got some fussin' in my future!

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