It is very difficult to write a book. You start off with this great idea and jump in long before developing any set notion of tone or voice or even method or structure. Nearly everything you get down will have to be rewritten. But it doesn't matter because you finally did it! You started a book!
That elation wears off quickly, though, leaving you with little more than awful drudgery that lasts for a long but otherwise unknowable amount of time. Until you finally finish (one way or another), nothing can save you from the constant nagging weight of your task because you started a book, you dummy.
Madea Lives! A Film-by-Film Guide to Loving Tyler Perry took me eight months to write, roughly the amount of time it takes to carry a premature baby. And like some premature babies, it spent a good amount of additional time being poked and prodded and augmented and molded into something presentable to the world.
Now that I'm on the other side of this, I can say without doubt that it was worth the effort, whatever the book's ultimate fate. I wrote Madea Lives! mostly to appease my own curiosity. Its chances for publication didn't really concern me. The fact that it has in fact reached publication, through a company I love and believe in no less, has little bearing on the pride I feel for it as an accomplishment in and of itself.
One of the main concerns I had regarding this book was that I would run out of new things to say about Tyler Perry's films, which on the outset interested me greatly but also seemed limited in scope and diversity. It's a testament to his strange complexity that I never had to wrestle with this. Some of his films were easier to discuss than others for sure, but Tyler Perry has yet to make a film that didn't challenge his limitations in some way or offer interesting windows into the fascinating conflict between what he thinks his films say and what they actually communicate.
While I assume Tyler Perry would disagree, I do not consider this a negative work. My goal was simply to analyze how Tyler Perry's films function, not because they are bad but because they are so brazenly unorthodox and unique. Whatever conclusions I developed, I came by them honestly. And make no mistake - there are genuine triumphs in Tyler Perry's body of work. The further I followed his development as a filmmaker, the more invested I became in his positive qualities, especially regarding his open and not always successful attempts at maturity and growth. I now find myself a lot more enthusiastic about what he does well than what he does not.
A nice byproduct of writing a book about Tyler Perry is that I already wrote a book about Tyler Perry, so I can let it do the rest of the talking for me. This is something I felt a strong need to say, especially since no one else was saying it. My ultimate ambition for the book is right there in the title. I hope you buy it, and I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you take it with you on your journey through this filmmaker's surprisingly complex body of work. But I mostly hope you buy it.
This publication would not have occurred without the openness of Devin Faraci, who I don't think likes Tyler Perry very much but nevertheless recognizes the validity of investigating his work. Meredith Borders edited the book in her free time, making it readable and far less embarrassing than it would have been otherwise. Cara Jackson put together the amazing cover. Roger Erik Tinch formatted the book and did all the actual publishing. Henri Mazza is generally in charge of everything to the extent that I have no idea what he actually does, just that his was a vital contribution as well.
More than anyone, however, I need to thank my wife, Tara Kuba. Tara has been pushing me on this thing since 2009. When I did finally start writing in 2012, she stayed on my ass whenever I procrastinated too long. At the time I found her physical and verbal assaults degrading and abusive, but I now realize the necessity of her tactics and see the scars they left as proof of her love. And if this book doesn't sell ten million copies she says she'll kill me.
So please prolong my life by purchasing the book here. It would mean a lot to me.