A Palace Theatre audience enjoys author Terry McMillan during the Stark County District Library speaker series.

 CANTON After captivating and humoring a Palace Theatre audience with reading from the new novel, "I Almost Forgot About You," best-selling author Terry McMillan shared some insights through her down-to-earth manner into her career as a writer whose had her work popularized in movies.

McMillan has written novels which showcase the intimate feelings of black women by dealing with romantic themes. A native of Huron, Mich., McMillan has written novels which were adapted into movies. Among them are "Waiting to Exhale" and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." These movies featured such actresses as Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston. McMillan is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. 

McMillan's appearance Wednesday was arranged by the Stark County District Library as she is one of the Dr. Audrey Lavin Speaking of Books Author Series speakers. She opened up by asking the Palace Theatre audience how far away is Lorain?

"I used to have a boyfriend from there," she said, drawing laughter from the audience. "I don't know what happened to him. He is not in here."

The "here" McMillan referred to was a copy of her latest book, which she was holding in her hand while on stage.

For about a half hour, she read a passage from "I Almost Forgot About You" that involved a conversation between a woman and man, Georgia and Michael, whose marriage had failed years ago, but were reunited in a restaurant to have a heart-to-heart conversation. McMillan again frequently drew laughter from her audience as the book passage was written from the woman's perspective, delving into her thoughts, which at times seemed to border on contempt and the cynical as she ponders what happened to her once-ideal marriage over the years.

Some of the language was blunt, which some in the audience seemed to find humorous.

One member of the audience, a woman named Margaret, interrupted a question-and-answer session by telling McMillan what an inspiration she has been. McMillan promised the woman a copy of a book during the book-signing session.

As the woman tried to continue talking to McMillan, the author interjected humor again and said, "Well Margaret, look, this party isn't just about you. If you want the book, you had better sit your butt down."

The questions, which arrived earlier by social media, were read to McMillan while she sat on stage. One asked if McMillan visited the filming sets as the motion picture industry created the movies based on her novels. She recalled being in Arizona for the filming of "Waiting to Exhale."

"They wanted me to be an extra," McMillan said. "It was kind of boring. You have to do the same thing over and over again. You have to do it from different angles."

When she embarks on producing other novels, McMillan said she rises in the predawn hours and takes a walk at the Rose Bowl at her Los Angles-area home.

"I write usually every day when something like an election isn't happening," she said. "You have to be consistent, like you go to work every day."

During a brief interview prior to her stage appearance, McMillan said she did not anticipate the movie industry creating a film version of her third novel, "Waiting to Exhale," in the 1990s.

McMillan described her goal through literature is to obtain "our empowerment as women, how to validate ourselves; African-American women, mothers, daughters, friendships, children, all of it.  I just tell stories about African-Americans. Most of them happen to be women. It is not written to be didactive or explain anything. It is to dramatize."

While seating capacity for the Palace Theatre is 1,489, about 730 people attended the event, and most of them were women.

"We are happy with the turnout," said Marianna DiGiacomo, community services director for the Stark County District Library. "This is a good turnout for us."

Among those in attendance was Lasheena Weir, who described herself as a fan of McMillan.

"I have seen her movies," Weir said. "I read two books. I love her. She is one of my favorite authors. I can relate to her. The characters in her books relate to African-American women."

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