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Decadence, a modern day My Fair Lady

29 May 2005

Cecil Leslie, author of Water Colours, is ready to launch his latest novel this Friday at the Delta Toronto East Hotel.  Set in Toronto, Decadence, is a modern day My Fair Lady.  It’s the story of Alicia Skinner, a young woman who evolves from a tough street gangsta to a savvy, cultured businesswoman, through the mentorship of an altruistic business owner and his wife.  The story is told from a West Indian/Canadian perspective.  “It deals with a lot of our internal politics, such as being labeled a sellout if we are doing well,” says Leslie.  “It gives a lower class perspective, a middle class perspective, represented by Marcus, Alicia’s love interest, and an upper class perspective and their responsibility or lack of responsibility to the world.”

Leslie is not afraid to address some of our “internal issues”.  In Water Colours, he looks at interracial romance.  “I didn’t want to do the usual black/white relationship.  I wanted to do something different, like Denzel Washington in  Mississippi Masala.  I wanted to take two different cultures, minorities, such as Asian and West Indian, and bring them together, addressing all of the issues that come with interracial romance.  In Decadence I wanted to address the issue about each class taking responsibility.  The book puts the discussion out there.  It may be controversial but it’s what we face everyday.”

Many of the characters in Cecil’s novels are loosely based on real people, real names.  Alicia Skinner is actually an aspiring actress.  “Who she is today, is who the character in the novel evolves to be,” says Leslie.  In Water Colors, the lead character is Catherine Lee.  The story is based on the real Catherine Lee and her interracial dating experiences.  She is a teacher both in the novel and real life.  “People that you see at the book launch are stars in my book,” says Leslie, “except for the lead males, they are a compilation of many different people.  The only people I create are the antagonists, since I don’t think it’s fair to make those characters based on my friends,” laughs Leslie.  “I find our lives interesting.  Everyone has a story to tell.”

A technical support analyst by day, for the Toronto Film Festival, Cecil’s interest in writing began with the creation of Water Colours as a screenplay. The 300 page screenplay quickly became his first novel.  Cecil is still hopeful it will soon become a film.  In the meantime, he is working on his third novel.  A story about relationships told from a male perspective.  If it’s anything like his last two novels, we can look forward to some thought provoking and lively discussion.

For more info on Water Colours and Decadence visit www.cecilleslie.com

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