Thomas, Trisha R. 1964-
THOMAS, Trisha R. 1964-
Home—Seattle, WA. Agent—Marie D. Brown, Marie Brown Associates, 625 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.
Novelist. Worked variously as a marketing consultant, bridal store owner, artist, designer, and teacher.
Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Image Award, finalist, 2001, for Nappily Ever After.
Nappily Ever After, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2000.
Roadrunner: A Novel, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2002.
Nappy Ever After was optioned for a motion picture.
Tricia R. Thomas received thirty-five rejections for her first novel, an African-American mystery that Thomas later realized "wasn't what was supposed to happen." Thomas told reporter John Marshall, of her hometown newspaper the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the success of other contemporary African-American authors "lit a fire" in her, and she tried again. Her second effort worked: the 2000 novel Nappily Ever After was sought after by literary agents and eventually won its author both a multi-book publishing contract and a nomination for the prestigious National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Image Award. Her best-selling debut was also optioned for a major motion picture planned for release in 2003.
Nappily Ever After is the story of Venus Johnson, an advertising executive who decides at the age of thirty-four to change her hair and change her life. She leaves her boyfriend, Clint Fairchild, a doctor who will not commit, and perhaps more significantly she cuts off her long, chemically straightened hair, leaving her with a close-cropped, "nappy" afro. In her newfound freedom she is forced to face the conventions of beauty, her own self-image, and her desire for security with a hard-to-find "good man." Venus also faces sexual harassment and racism at work, and a "black Barbie" who becomes her rival for love. Critics found that, if the basic plotline covers familiar territory, the book also offers surprises, insight, and wit. Reviewer Delorese Ambrose, for Black Issues Book Review, wrote that in Nappily Ever After "Thomas delivers up a powerful, funny and sensitive coming-of-age novel." Booklist reviewer Vanessa Bush said "Thomas offers painful but amusing insights" into relationships, beauty, and black culture itself. In the Washington Post Rhonda Stewart favorably compared Thomas's thoughts on beauty and self-acceptance to those of African-American feminist bell hooks. Stewart wrote, "Thomas deftly uses the premium placed on long and straight 'good' hair to tackle a host of sensitive issues in an honest and compelling way: the internecine politics of skin color, the dreaded 'good black man' shortage and the contortions that black women put themselves through hoping to measure up."
Thomas's second novel, Roadrunner, tells the story of a professional athlete who loses his career due to an injury, which has also left him addicted to painkillers. Increasingly moody, Dell neglects his family and abuses his wife. The novel, described in Kirkus Reviews as "another solid drama" from Thomas, recounts the efforts of Dell and Leah to save their marriage while also coping with unwanted attention from outsiders. A writer for Publishers Weekly praised Thomas's narrative skill and observed that this novel "packs a punch."
Speaking of the role of writing in her life, Thomas told CA: "Writing is the personal truth of the author. I'm inspired by finding the truth."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, January, 2001, Delorese Ambrose, review of Nappily Ever After, p. 17.
Booklist, November 15, 2000, Vanessa Bush, review of Nappily Ever After, p. 620; June 1, 2002, Vanessa Bush, review of Roadrunner, p. 1689.
Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia), February 4, 2002, Darrell Giles, "All Hail Oscar Favourite Halle," p. 20.
Essence, December, 2000, review of Nappily Ever After.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2002, review of Roadrunner, p. 697.
Library Journal, November 1, 2000, Ann Burns and Emily Joy Jones, review of Nappily Every After, p. 102.
Publishers Weekly, November 6, 2000, review of Nappily Ever After, p. 71; June 17, 2002, p. 45.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 15, 2001, John Marshall, "Double Exposure: Washington Writers in the Celebrity Spotlight for NAACP Image Award."
Washington Post, July 23, 2001, Rhonda Stewart, "The Tress Code," p. C3.