Dickey, Eric Jerome 1961-
Dickey, Eric Jerome 1961-
PERSONAL: Born July 7, 1961, in Memphis, TN. Education: Memphis State University (now University of Memphis), B.S., 1983; attended University of California at Los Angeles, 1995-97. Hobbies and other interests: Running, aerobics, jazz concerts, working as a mentor with the organization Project Reach.
ADDRESSES: Home—Pomona, CA.
CAREER: Writer, software developer. Rockwell (now Boeing), Los Angeles, CA, software developer and technical writer, 1983-92; writer, 1992—; Rowland Unified School District, Rowland Heights, CA, educator, 1994-97. Worked variously at Federal Express; Lowenstein’s, Memphis, TN, bill collector; Memphis State University (now University of Memphis), Memphis, TN, in college game room; as a stand-up comedian; and as an actor.
MEMBER: International Black Writers and Artists Association, Alpha Phi Alpha.
AWARDS, HONORS: Edna Crotchfield Founders Award, Commitment as Literary Artist, 1995; Proclamation, City of Pomona, CA, 1998; SEED (Student Equity, Excellence, and Diversity) Scholarship, International Black Writers and Artists Association; NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Fiction, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Sister, Sister, Dutton (New York, NY), 1996.
Friends and Lovers, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
Milk in My Coffee, Dutton (New York, NY), 1998.
Cheaters: Caught up in the Game, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
Liar’s Game, Dutton (New York, NY), 2000.
Between Lovers, Dutton (New York, NY), 2001.
Thieves’ Paradise, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
Naughty or Nice, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.
The Other Woman, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.
Drive Me Crazy, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.
Genevieve, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
Chasing Destiny, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.
Sleeping with Strangers, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.
Waking with Enemies, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.
Pleasure, Dutton (New York, NY), 2008
Cappuccino (screenplay), 1998.
Contributor to anthologies and collections, including Got to Be Real: Four Original Love Stories, New American Library, 2000; Mothers & Sons, 2000; River Crossing, Voices of the Diaspora: An Anthology of the International Black Experience, International Black Writers and Artists Association; Griots beneath the Baobab: Tales from Los Angeles, International Black Writers and Artists Association, 2002; Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writing, 2002; Voices from the Other Side: Dark Dreams II, 2006; and A Place to Enter. Author of Storm, a comic-book sequence, for Marvel Comics, 2006.
ADAPTATIONS: The novel Liar’s Game was adapted for audio cassette, read by the author and Gabriella Callender, Penguin Audiobooks, 2000; the novel Between Lovers was adapted for audio cassette, read by Dion Graham, Recorded Books, 2001; the novel Cheaters: Caught up in the Game was adapted for audio cassette, read by Peter J. Fernandez, Patricia Floyd, and Ezra Knight, Recorded Books, 2001; Chasing Destiny was adapted for audio.
SIDELIGHTS: Eric Jerome Dickey is an African-American novelist whose works often feature black characters in the United States. His books, most of them best sellers, deal with the lives of black women and the relationships between men and women in African-American communities. His debut novel, Sister, Sister, explores relationships among middle-class, African-American women. A critic in Publishers Weekly found that the novel “brims with humor, outrageousness and an understanding of the generosity of affection.” The plot of Sister, Sister centers on a closely knit, mixed-race family in Southern California and a tangled web of their family relationships, love affairs, and friendships. The oldest sibling, Inda, is a divorced social worker with an M.B.A. from Stanford University. Her sister Valerie is caught in a miserable marriage to a former athlete. In the story, Inda befriends Chiquita, a flight attendant who has also been deceived by Raymond, Inda’s current lover, and who is engaged to a third woman. Through her friendship with Inda and Valerie, Chiquita meets and develops a relationship with their brother, Thaddeus.
Booklist reviewer Lillian Lewis commented positively on Dickey’s depiction of the characters’ rapport. Lewis wrote, “Remarkably, Dickey is able … to explore the ‘sister-sister’ relationship with genuine insight.” Remarking on the themes in Sister, Sister, a Kirkus Reviews critic concluded that “Dickey’s spirited, mostly successful debut novel suffers only from a roughness around the edges and a wearing earnestness.”
A similarly themed novel, Friends and Lovers, was published in 1997. In the book, a quartet of characters, Debra, Shelby, Tyrel, and Leonard, search for happiness in various ways. The women as well as the men have been friends since youth, and when Debra falls in love with Leonard, she naturally sets up her friend Shelby with Leonard’s best friend, Tyrel, with unforeseen consequences. Writing in Booklist, Lewis commented: “Dickey has done a remarkable job of being not only perceptive but also witty and moving in his portrayal of relationships.” Similar praise came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer who noted: “Dickey skillfully fleshes out two dynamic African American women whose talk and travails ring true.”
Dickey’s 1998 novel, Milk in My Coffee, depicts a romantic relationship between a white woman and a black man. It was hailed as an engrossing and humorous tale by critics and fans alike. In the Library Journal, Emily Jones called the book “sensitive yet realistic.”
With Cheaters: Caught up in the Game, Dickey produced a “hot, sexy, and funny novel,” according to Library Journal reviewer Emily Jones. With an eye on the so-called “Buppies” (black urban professionals) scene, and on the lifestyle of single men, Dickey focuses on Stephan, a successful computer programmer with a string of women, who is driven by events in his past. Jones felt that Dickey “improves his craft with each book.” Other first-person narrators include Darnell and Chante, both of them looking for love in the wrong and ultimately the right places. A Publishers Weekly contributor termed this a “racy comedy of African-American singles and couples [that] will please, and won’t surprise.” and further commented: “This provocative diversion is just right for summer reading.”
In Dickey’s year 2000 novel, Liar’s Game, the author delivers another set of “witty and engrossing tales about male and female relationships,” as Booklist contributor Lewis wrote. When Dana Ann Smith moves from New York City to Los Angeles and restarts her career in real estate, she meets successful and good-looking Vince Calvary Browne, Jr., and the two soon fall in love, of a sort. Each shares only parts of his or her past, until their respective former partners arrive in town and it is time to share old secrets. Lewis felt that Liar’s Game is “sure to be as successful with readers as Dickey’s previous ones.” A Publishers Weekly critic observed that Dickey examines “themes of love, betrayal and commitment-phobia in the African-American community,” while Black Issues Book Review writer Glenn R. Townes similarly commented: “All of [Dickey’s] novels center on the sometimes caustic and disharmonious bond that exists between African American men and women.” Townes went on to praise Dickey for his “plausible and sagacious” plots.
With the 2001 Between Lovers, Dickey examines a woman’s life through the lens of her spurned lover, whom she stood up at the altar. The novel received generally positive reviews. A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed: “The pace of this character-driven novel is unhurried, highlighting Dickey’s celebrated contemporary vernacular, thinly veiled social commentary and comedic sarcasm.”
The author moves away from strictly romantic relationship fiction and primarily middle-class protagonists with Thieves’ Paradise. In the novel, Dickey focuses on the many struggles in the life of Dante, a laid-off computer industry worker in his mid-twenties with a tragic past. Living in Los Angeles, Dante, his similarly careworn friend Jackson, and Dante’s love interest Pam become deeply involved in illegal scams through the charismatic operator of a pool hall that Dante frequents. Dante is forced to decide what kind of life he wants to lead: legal or illegal. While finding the ending of the novel lacking, a reviewer in Publishers Weekly noted: “In his compelling picture of another world, Dickey believably shows how even in the underbelly of society, loyalty, respect and love have their place.” Glenn Townes of the Black Issues Book Review believed “Dickey’s writing has never been better. The book is filled with his trademark gritty, street slang, smoldering love scenes, and vivid descriptions.”
Naughty or Nice takes a look at the lives of three Los Angeles sisters, Frankie, Livvy, and Tommie. Each has her own joys and sorrows. Oldest is Frankie, more successful in real estate than she has been in the dating game, especially now that she is experimenting with online dating. Middle sister Livvy is experiencing the breakup of her marriage and setting off on a new affair, while youngest Tommie is attempting to get over a bad relationship and allow herself to fall for the man next door. Booklist reviewer Lewis once again had positive words for Dickey’s fiction: “Dickey’s latest offers plenty of the laugh-out-loud humor that has made his work a staple on best-seller lists.” Likewise, Clarissa Cruz, writing in Entertainment Weekly, commented, “Dickey is adept at capturing the complex sisterly bond,” while a Publishers Weekly critic observed, “Dickey is a master at writing about women and what they want and how they want it.”
A lover’s attempted revenge is at the heart of The Other Woman, a “steamy, lascivious and realistically chilling novel,” according to Black Issues Book Review critic Townes. Here a successful Los Angeles television producer discovers that her husband, Charles, is having an affair. She retaliates by having an affair with the husband of Charles’s new paramour. A Publishers Weekly reviewer termed The Other Woman a “sharp-edged, sizzling novel,” and went on to note that “Dickey offers plenty of straight-on sex and violence, but also probes questions of contemporary morals.” Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews critic concluded: “Good and gritty storytelling.”
The protagonist of Drive Me Crazy is a chauffeur named Driver. Driver is an ex-con who takes fifteen thousand dollars from Lisa, a woman with whom he is having an affair, in exchange for killing her husband Wolf, who happens to be his boss. Driver changes his mind about murder without changing his mind about keeping the money, which he uses to pay for his mother’s funeral. The situation becomes more complicated when a vengeful Lisa begins to stalk him and by the involvement of other women: Arizona, a con artist, and a trustworthy stripper named Panther. The result is a “hot, sexy” novel, according to Lynette Rice of Entertainment Weekly.
Other critics had similar assessments. Lewis of Booklist favorably compared Dickey to Donald Goines. She called Drive Me Crazy Dickey’s “best novel to date.” A reviewer in Publishers Weekly complimented the book’s “tough but likable hero and sharp takes on racial politics.”
An affair is also a central theme in Genevieve. The title character is a woman with many secrets and a reticent life. Her husband accompanies her from their successful life in Los Angeles to her hometown in Alabama for a funeral. There he learns much about his wife’s past and has an affair with his sister-in-law, Kenya. Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Abby West felt Dickey’s book features “some downright Shakespearean melodrama.”
Chasing Destiny deals with the impact of an odd triangle on a teenage girl. Offbeat Billie thinks she has met the love of her life in Keith, and together they conceive a baby. Then she learns that Keith’s estranged wife Carmen wants her man back and devises numerous plots to do so. Soon the three are playing a dangerous game with one another, one that backfires when Keith’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Destiny, runs away, sickened by the adults in her life. Now Keith, Carmen, and Billie must try to track down Destiny before she runs into danger. Library Journal contributor Lisa Jones termed this novel “an exciting read.”
Dickey takes a new direction in his writing with the 2007 Sleeping with Strangers, the tale of two hit men whose lives are destined to intersect. Gideon is hoping to retire and is available for any contract killing, as long as it hastens the day he can lay down his gun. Bruno, meanwhile, finds his domestic worries bedeviling his chosen “professional” life. Writing in Booklist, Shelley Mosley found the novel “suspenseful right up to the cliff-hanger ending, gritty, graphic, and often gory.” Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews critic concluded the book is “a violent, sometimes farfetched look at the desperate lengths people will go to protect the things that matter most to them.Higher praise came from Ebony contributor Lynette R. Holloway, who called the book an action-packed classic noir thriller that draws you in from the first page.” A similar assessment came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who noted, “The plot is taut, fast and bold—total blockbuster entertainment, replete with an abundance of sex, violence and James Bond touches.”
Dickey’s sequel to Sleeping with Strangers, Waking with Enemies, finds Gideon in London, himself the object of a contract. Evading the hit man, Gideon still manages to find love in this “solid, entertaining read,” as Library Journal contributor Lisa Jones described the novel. Jones also praised the “exciting plot and alluring European locales” in the book. A Kirkus Reviews critic felt the novel was “nearly as violent as it is explicit—a pulpy thriller boasting a free-love message,” while a Publishers Weekly reviewer thought that "there’s a lot of fun to be had in watching Gideon work his brutal trade, and the high-octane narrative will have readers burning through page after page.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 56, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2006.
Black Issues Book Review, November, 1999, review of Cheaters: Caught up in the Game, p. 28; November, 2000, Glenn R. Townes, review of Liar’s Game, p. 19; May, 2001, Nikitta A. Foston, review of Got to Be Real: Four Original Love Stories, p. 19; May, 2002, Glenn Townes, review of Thieves’ Paradise, p. 38; May, 2003, Glenn Townes, review of The Other Woman, p. 47; November, 2003, reviews of Naughty or Nice, p. 23, and The Other Woman, p. 17; May, 2007, Felicia Pride, review of Sleeping with Strangers, p. 42.
Book, May, 2003, review of The Other Woman, p. 58.
Booklist, September 15, 1996, Lillian Lewis, review of Sister, Sister, p. 220; September 1, 1997, Lillian Lewis, review of Friends and Lovers, p. 56; May 15, 1999, Lillian Lewis, review of Cheaters, p. 1666; February 15, 2000, Vanessa Bush, review of Cheaters, p. 1082; April 15, 2000, Lillian Lewis, review of Liar’s Game, p. 1522; October 15, 2003, Lillian Lewis, review of Naughty or Nice, p. 356; July, 2004, Lillian Lewis, review of Drive Me Crazy, p. 1797; March 1, 2007, Shelley Mosley, review of Sleeping with Strangers, p. 61.
Ebony, April, 2007, Lynette R. Holloway, “Artist Spotlight: Eric Jerome Dickey,” p. 32.
Entertainment Weekly, May 30, 2003, review of The Other Woman, p. 120; December 19, 2003, Clarissa Cruz, review of Naughty or Nice, p. 83; July 23, 2004, Lynette Rice, review of Drive Me Crazy, p. 81; May 13, 2005, Abby West, review of Genevieve, p. 94; April 13, 2007, Clarissa Cruz, review of Sleeping with Strangers, p. 79.
Essence, April, 2007, “Love, Lust and Lies: Eric Jerome Dickey’s New Sexy Mystery Will Keep Fans Guessing until the Very End,” p. 91.
Jet, September 18, 2006, “Eric Jerome Dickey: Enjoying Success of 12th Novel, Chasing Destiny,” p. 46.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1996, review of Sister, Sister, pp. 1171-1172; April 1, 2003, review of The Other Woman, p. 493; March 15, 2006, review of Chasing Destiny, p. 251; June 1, 2007, review of Waking with Enemies.
Kliatt, July, 2006, Nancy Chaplin Crowder, review of Chasing Destiny, p. 43.
Library Journal, November 1, 1997, review of Friends and Lovers, p. 96; October 15, 1998, Emily Jones, review of Milk in My Coffee, p. 96; May 15, 1999, Emily Jones, review of Cheaters, p. 124; January, 2001, review of Liar’s Game, p. 200; November 1, 2003, review of Naughty or Nice, p. 103; May 1, 2005, Jennifer Baker, review of Genevieve, p. 70; May 1, 2006, Lisa Jones, review of Chasing Destiny, p. 77; July 1, 2007, Lisa Jones, review of Waking with Enemies, p. 73.
MBR Bookwatch, January, 2005, Shirley Johnson, review of Naughty or Nice.
News & Notes, May 2, 2007, “Eric Jerome Dickey on Writing Black Best-Sellers”; August 13, 2007, “Steaming up the Book World Again.”
New York Times, July 29, 2004, “Chick-Lit King Imagines His Way into Women’s Heads,” p. 1.
Publishers Weekly, August 5, 1996, review of Sister, Sister, p. 428; September 1, 1997, review of Friends and Lovers, p. 92; June 7, 1999, review ofCheaters, p. 72; August 2, 1999, review of Cheaters, p. 26; May 22, 2000, review of Liar’s Game, p. 70; December 4, 2000, review of Got to Be Real, p. 53; June 25, 2001, review of Between Lovers, p. 48; May 6, 2002, review of Thieves’ Paradise, p. 36; April 14, 2003, review of The Other Woman, p. 48; October 6, 2003, review of Naughty or Nice, p. 59; June 28, 2004, review of Drive Me Crazy, p. 31; February 5, 2007, review of Sleeping with Strangers, p. 39; June 4, 2007, review of Waking with Enemies, p. 28.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), November 30, 2003, review of Naughty or Nice, p. 7.
USA Today, August 16, 2007, “5 Questions For,” p. 4.
Comic Book Resources,http://www.comicbookresources.com/ (October 28, 2005), Jonah Weiland, “Marvel Taps NY Times Bestselling Author Eric Jerome Dickey to Write ‘Storm’ Ltd. Series.”
Eric Jerome Dickey Home Page,http://www.ericjeromedickey.com (January 27, 2008).*