Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Q&A with Linda Williams Jackson


Linda Williams Jackson is the author of Midnight Without a Moon, a novel for kids, and its sequel, A Sky Full of Stars. They focus on a girl named Rose Lee Carter who is growing up in Mississippi in the 1950s. Jackson is based in Mississippi.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Midnight Without a Moon, and for your character Rose Lee Carter?

A: I have always wanted to write a story about a sharecropping family in the Mississippi Delta because of the stories I heard about my own sharecropping family from that area.

Rose’s character is inspired by a cousin who was indeed left in Mississippi to be raised by my grandparents when her mother migrated to Chicago (the true story is VERY different, by the way).

Of course, children being left behind during this period was quite common, so Rose could have been any young girl who was raised in the South while her parents sought job opportunities up north.

Q: The book includes the story of Emmett Till. What did you see as the right blend of history and fiction as you were writing your novel?

A: I tried to make the story as historically accurate as possible. So for the tie-in, I fictionalized Rose’s grandfather as an “old friend” of Emmett Till’s great-uncle Mose Wright. Since Mose Wright was a tenant farmer in the Mississippi Delta, it is not too far-fetched to blend that fiction with fact.

What I did not want to do, however, is bring a “living” Emmett Till into the story and attempt to fictionalize his life in any shape, form, or fashion. I wanted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.

Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that particularly surprised you?

A: Most of my research was done on the Internet. I read tons of articles, including archived copies of Jet magazine (which was quite fun actually). I did have to buy a few books, but most of what I needed was on the World Wide Web. I watched YouTube videos in addition to reading articles.

The thing that surprised me was how little I actually knew about the history of the Mississippi Delta and about my own African-American history.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?

A: I hope readers will grasp an understanding of what type of environment Emmett Till stepped into when he got off that train and traveled to Money, MS.

Emmett Till’s death wasn’t just about a wolf whistle. It was about Brown versus Board of Education. It was about voting rights. It was about Jim Crow. It was about the White Citizens’ Council.

All of those things encompass “keeping people in their proper place,” and that is what the Emmett Till murder was all about—not a wolf whistle.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Truthfully, I’m not working like I should be. But when I do, I will find myself telling the rest of Rose’s story, plus telling a story of about happenings in the Mississippi Delta during the ‘70s.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Hmmm. Nothing that I can think of except, thanks for the interview!

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

Jan. 17

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Jan. 17, 1706: Benjamin Franklin born.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Q&A with Allegra Huston


Allegra Huston is the author of the new novel Say My Name. She also has written the book Love Child, written and produced the film Good Luck, Mr. Gorski, and is on the staff of the magazine Garage. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Newsweek and Vogue. She lives in Taos, New Mexico.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Say My Name, and for your main character, Eve?

A: I wanted to write a love story, and I wanted to base it on my fantasy—that one of the great songs would have been written for me. It’s my first novel, and I wanted Eve to be somewhat similar to me, so I made her 48. I didn’t want an old rock-and-roller, but a guy on the verge of making it big. That led into the story of an older woman and a younger man.

Q: Do you think attitudes have changed over the years regarding relationships between older women and younger men?

A: I think they’ve changed to some extent, though not enough. It’s still, "Ooh, an older woman"--a programmed-in response that older women are more knowing and experienced. There’s something predatory, lubricious, forbidden, edgy about the whole deal, though certainly as you look around, there are more relationships between older women and younger men.

The cougar thing drives me mad. What is a cougar? A beast. There’s a sense of desperation…It’s extremely demeaning. It’s annoyed me that women have bought into this. It’s another way to demean women.

I know a lot of people in relationships of that kind, and virtually without exception, it was the man who did the chasing. The idea of a predatory cougar chasing down a boy, or a man, helpless in her wiles is so offensive.

Q: How did you think of the unusual musical instrument that you feature in the novel?

A: I can’t remember how I cane up with the idea of an instrument bringing them together. They are hard people to bring together! I came up with the idea of her doing antique hunting.

I wanted him to be a reluctant rock star, with a close and authentic relationship to a kind of primal music. The music Micajah plays when he’s not being a rock star is the kind friends of mine play—Andalusian, Middle Eastern.

His journey at the end is a reverse of [the film] Latcho Drom…he’s following the evolution of music from the far desert to Europe. Micajah does it in reverse.

Q: Is it a real instrument?

A: It’s based on a viola da gamba, but it’s smaller. The viola da gamba, you play like a cello, but you hold it between your knees. I kind of made it up, but then I researched the viola d’amore, and I imagined something that [already] existed!

Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: The original title for the book was "Night Blooming Jasmine"; that was going to be the name of the song. But the publisher felt it sounded like an epic set in the Far East.

We moved on to "For Eve" as the title…but we tried to come up with a name that would convey romance. "Say My Name" is not as accurate a title, but I hope it conveys the flavor of being intimate and close.

The relationship between the two of them is based on being seen. It’s wonderful when you have a relationship with someone who sees you for who you are. That’s what draws Micajah and Eve together…

Q: What are you working on now?

A: The screenplay of this. And my next book, which is going to be fairly different. It’s a psychological thriller.

I hope it will hit the same thing—what I wanted to do with Say My Name was to write a novel that has a popular storyline but is well written, thoughtful, and authentic: the thinking woman’s sexy novel. Maybe the next one will be the thinking woman’s psychological thriller!

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: For me, it is a love story, but it’s really the story of a woman’s self-empowerment through the medium of a love story. I didn’t want it to have a regular happy ending, “happily ever after” updated, because that didn’t feel real to me…

What is a happy ending for a 48-year-old woman whose marriage has ended isn’t finding a younger guy. That’s great, but the idea is to feel confident. She, having felt seen, can see herself…

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

Jan. 16

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Jan. 16, 1933: Susan Sontag born.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Q&A with Simon Van Booy


Simon Van Booy, photo by Ken Browar
Simon Van Booy is the author of Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things, his first novel for kids. His other books include Father's Day and The Illusion of Separateness, and his work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times and the Financial Times. He lives in Brooklyn and Miami.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things?

A: It evolved over about eight years...sketching out characters and scenes. I've never felt completely at home anywhere in the world--so I created the mythical island of Skuldark.

Q: Why did you decide to write a children’s book this time?

A: I love Roald Dahl, and wanted to write books for children that were adventurous, but funny and scary too...

Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?

A: That fear brings out the worst in people. Strength is not power, but the absence of fear.

Q: Is this the beginning of a series?

A: Yes! Book Two is out in September....no plans for Book Three yet though...

Q: What are you working on now?

A: A novel about five rabbits that live in a dusty old shop in New York City.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Although stories are made-up, to me they feel true. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Simon Van Booy.

Q&A with Patricia Hawse


Patricia Hawse is the author of the new book Divine Daily Messages: A Year of Daily Channeled Messages and Journal. She also has written Messages for Lightworkers. She is the founder of KarmaFest, which focuses on holistic health.

Q: How did you first get involved in daily channeled messages, and how did the book come about? 

A: I started doing my daily channelings for the most obvious of reasons: a boy broke up with me and I was devastated. I was so devastated that I asked God/Higher Powers what I was to learn from the pain. 

I wrote on a piece of paper: “what would you have me know today?” and received an answer that didn’t seem in my words, at all. I thought the messages were just for me until other people would talk of their experiences and I would think, “My message today might help you.” 

Then I realized the messages were general enough that they could help most anyone and everyone regardless of age, sex, religion or cultural affiliation, etc. So six years ago I began posting the messages each day. 

I have not missed one day of “channeling a message” regardless of being sick or on vacation or if it was my birthday: not one day missed in over six years so I have over 2,000 of these messages. 

From there I created a small version of this book several years ago called Messages for Lightworkers, for I wanted to encourage the young people to hang onto hope and to help them through their days of struggle. 

From there, people asked for a full year of messages where they can journal beside it (some groups were even using the Messages for Lightworkers book in their spiritual groups for discussion and reflection). That is where this book came from: the past year of channeled messages which seem to be getting more sophisticated in nature as we move along (higher spiritual concepts explored).  I don’t edit the messages and if I do it is simply spelling. 

The words they give me are 99 percent accurate in grammar and meaning, even if they seem foreign to me and don’t make sense: when I look them up, they are correct. I am honored people enjoy these messages and plan to put them out there for as many people to enjoy as possible.

Q: How do you hope readers interact with the book, and what do you hope they gain from it? 

A: I hope it is a reflection tool as well as an inspirational tool. I’ve found that everyone wants a guru and teacher ~ I am not that. I believe the teacher is within so I pray people will use the words to “work on themselves” to become better humans, in general, and more “enlightened,” in particular. 

For this Daily Channeled Messages and Journal, the ultimate goal would be for them to not only “journal” beside the daily reading, but to try channeling their own daily message and see what they come up with! From Self to Source we can glean all we need to know, to grow!

Q: Who do you see as the likely audience for the book? 

A: Anyone and everyone who is trying to make this world a better place and/or is trying to grow spiritually; anyone who is suffering; if read daily, they will find tools and words to help them with greater higher dimensional understandings which do indeed affect the everyday life of any individual for the better. 

Better humans create a better world. A healed heart creates a healed world. Start with healing self and the rest will follow.

Q: Can someone start working with the messages at any point, or should someone start at the beginning of the year? 

A: They can surely start at any point and just go to that date and work from there. Time is a manmade structure and enlightenment is a lifetime of work so you one might as well start where they are and go from there! So if you begin in February, you can just eventually get to January next year! The circle continues to spin ~ no time is lost.

Q: What are you working on now? 

A: I am working on a book of my awakening process. I thought there have been too many people writing too many books on “their awakening,” where people would be bored of another. 

However, I’ve found in my healing and enlightenment work, when it comes to spiritual concepts and elements, I often refer to stories of my own spiritual awakening to help explain things. 

That is where my next book will come in: to help those on the path know there will be the ups and downs and to try to put into words and stories that which is esoteric and hard to find in a manual of life.

Q: Anything else we should know? 

A: My goal is to help the planet by enlightening the human condition with love. Each heart that is healed, or on the healing process, and each spirit that is enlightened by words of encouragement, is my end game. 

If my daily channelings help in that regard, I will continue writing them. They are the best part of my day: when I am connected to Source/Guides/Angels, “The Higher Realms,” so it is perfect for me and my growth, as I hope it is for others, as well. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

Jan. 15

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Jan. 15, 1929: Martin Luther King Jr. born.