Connie Briscoe's Hearing LossQ: You lost your hearing in your 20s due to sudden hearing loss. Can you describe that experience?
A: I didn't understand why I was losing my hearing. To go from having a sense to not having it or having it deteriorate quickly, is frightening. Suddenly I could no longer communicate with my friends and family with the same ease I could before. I used to love talking to my girlfriends and boyfriends on the telephone and lost the ability to do that. Fortunately, I read lips well and was able to compensate when talking in person. But I lost the ability to do a lot of things that I took for granted like movies and television (this was before closed captions became common).
Q: When did you get a hearing aid?
A: I wore a hearing aid way before I became managing editor of AAD. I first got a hearing aid as a child but my hearing loss was mild then and I didn't always use it. When I got older and more conscious of my appearance--you know, boys and all that--I just stopped wearing it altogether. Then when my loss became more severe as an adult I started wearing one again, about 15 years before I became managing editor of AAD.
Q: When did you learn sign language?
A: I learned sign language while working at Gallaudet University as managing editor of American Annals of the Deaf (AAD) in the 1990s.
Q: Why did you decide to get an implant? How much benefit are you getting?
A: I got a cochlear implant in the summer of 2003 and have regained almost all of my hearing. I've done very well with the CI. Technically I've gone from having an 80-90 decibel hearing loss to have a 20 decibel hearing loss last time it was tested. It's getting better all the time. I'm using the telephone with ease now. In fact, I'm conducting interviews over the telephone for my next book. There's no way I could have even dreamed of doing that before I got the CI.
Connie Briscoe's Career/EducationQ: What is your college degree from Hampton University in? When did you graduate?
A: I graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor's in Human Ecology. I finished at American University with a master's in government and public administration in 1978.
How did you come to be a managing editor of American Annals of the Deaf? I'm not sure how I found out about the vacancy but I just applied and got it.
Connie Briscoe's Personal IdentityQ: Do you still consider yourself part of the deaf community?
A: I still consider myself deaf. In fact, I often joke that I become deaf again every night when I remove my hearing aid before going to bed. I have a deaf daughter who attends Maryland School for the Deaf and I keep abreast of what's happening in the deaf community because of her. But I haven't had much contact with the deaf community otherwise since I stopped working at Gallaudet University, and I miss that. I was recently invited to become a member of the board of the Maryland School for the Deaf. I'm excited about that because if all goes well it will help me get plugged into the deaf community again.
Q: How do you think of yourself first - deaf, black, or a writer? Or, would you describe yourself as a "deaf, black woman who writes" or as a "writer who happens to be deaf, female, and black?"
A: You know, this would change given the circumstances. If I'm somewhere and can't hear, that comes first. If I'm giving a book reading I'm an author first. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I love being able to switch in and out of all my roles. I actually think it's made me a better fiction writer as I'm able to empathize with others very easily. But as a rule, I would describe myself as a black, deaf, woman author.
Q: Are you active in either the hearing African American organizations or the deaf African American organizations? If so, what positions have you held in them?
A: I'm a member of Jack and Jill with my son. That's an organization of mothers of black children that supports and encourages their children to become successful in life.
Connie Briscoe's Published BooksQ: I'm honestly not familiar with your books, but know they are not about deaf topics. Will you ever write one that has to do with deafness?
A: Probably, although I can't say when or what it will be about.
Q: When will your next novel be published? What is the topic of the nonfiction book you are working on?
A: My next book is a nonfiction book about successful black women. It will be published in the spring of 2007. I expect to go back to fiction eventually but I'm not sure when.
Q: So far all the books you have written are for adults. Will you ever write a children's book?
A: This is doubtful.
Q: I've never read any of your books. Which one would you recommend I read, if I only have time to read one of them?
A: The latest one, Can't Get Enough, or its prequel PG County.