Talk of the Town - Novel Home April 27 2005

Books are not just for shelves in the home of Sheila Moses

There was once a time when the average writer stereotype involved a nerdy introvert who did little more than read and fervently collect books. But post "Sex and the City," the stereotypical female writer is now a plucky extrovert who does little more than collect Manolos and men in her downtime.

Standing in contrast to both is local poet, author and playwright Sheila P. Moses. Though always one to speak her mind, Moses lives to read and has a passion for history. Her four-story Buckhead condo contains a hefty number of books, both fiction and nonfiction. Among friends, she is known for an unparalleled selection of lavatory reading material, including Essence, Time and Ebony.

But for the rest of us, Moses is better known for her recent novel I, Dred Scott, a fictional slave narrative about legal historian Dred Scott's life. Currently, Moses is co-writing a history book commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the group's prominent mentoring and benefactor program, Project Success.

Creative Loafing: How many books do you own? How many have you read?

Moses: I have over 1,000 and I have read most of them, but there are a number of them that I've been anxious to read.

What type of books do you like to read?

I like to write a good lie [fiction] but I don't like to read one: Autobiographies are the most interesting. For example, Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones reads like a novel!

Which books are you yearning to finally kick up your heels and read?

Donald Bogle's book Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood. I am also trying to finish The Purpose Driven Life by Bill Warren. This is the book that has been getting a lot of press recently, but I have been a loyal reader for some time now.

What is the most important book in your collection?

The Bible. It is the best book I have ever read, even though I don't read it as much as I should. However, I pick it up more than any other book in my collection. My favorite chapter is John 14 - God speaks of giving you everything, not just material things, all in exchange for your faithfulness.

Where do you work when at home?

I have an office in my basement. However, I usually don't like to work at home, I'd rather work in an outside office for whomever I am writing for. I try to separate work from family. So, the books in my collection and my basement office are the only connection my home has with my work. When people come to my house, I want them to know I read, not to know that I write.