It’s been a while since I added to this post due to several personal tragedies. I am glad to be back. This is the second installment of the making of my upcoming novel, “Slaves of Destiny”. It is unique in that it encompasses a heart-wrenching love story amidst a gut-wrenching era in United States history. The following are my notes taken during the research phase of preparing to write:
In order to help the reader connect with the characters, I knew I must rely on authentic voices from the past. The former slave’s narratives of the Born in Slavery project quickly became the catalyst to bring those voices to life. Each documented chronicle is written in broken English, giving the closest account of the person’s language, slang, and speech. This also gave a priceless gift to those reading them as it creates in the reader’s mind a total picture of the person speaking. In my novel series, The Tapestry of A. Taylor, I write with a dialect to help readers experience the story in a genuine way. Many who have read the series thus far have commented that those characters, particularly Annie Mae, leapt off the page and came to life. The realistic speech of a character is what changes the reader’s perception of him or her from being only a character in book, to becoming a friend-like person that they begin to care about.
While this love story presented in Slaves of Destiny is a tangled web in itself, I want to give a very real account of the complicated life of the late 1800’s. As per my vision of “creating stories that are both entertaining and inspiring, encouraging readers to live confidently and never to give up on their dreams”, I always strive to incorporate truth, knowledge, and inspiration in every story I write. In The Tapestry of A. Taylor, Abriella Taylor, must muster fortitude and tenacity to survive changes her life and that of her family. In the sequel, The Weaving of A Warrior, Abriella grows and overcomes life’s struggles while discovering her own strengths and weaknesses. These are lessons that every person must learn in order to be successful. My target audience, adult women, relate to my protagonists for this reason- inspiration to become the whole person we are to become, strength of integrity when faced with adversity, and compassion for those around us on the same life journey. Even in my sexy, almost erotic, novel The Uncommon Waiter, (under my pen name Kasey Mitchell), the protagonist must face her personal history and possible future uncertainties in order to connect with another human being on every level. The inspiration to overcome personal tragedy does not have to be boring! On the contrary, in The Uncommon Waiter, Mia Montgomery has the opportunity to live every woman’s fantasy IF she can face her demons.
As much as I am enjoying the research for Slaves of Destiny, I look forward to the writing process that I hope to begin soon, that is, if I can pull myself away from the stories that help inspire it! If it is true that “It takes a village to raise a child” then I presume that it takes a world to appreciate a people. The United States’ history will be tarnished forever by the practice of slavery; nothing can change that. However, in writing a novel of this magnitude, I hope to give a loyal and empathetic voice to the people of that era whose integrity was roused to change the dark spot of our nation’s history. I am indebted to all those who made these chronicles possible.
The writing project collected narratives in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writer’s Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). These narratives were then assembled and microfilmed in 1941 and became the seventeen-volume collection called Slave Narratives: A folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The website for this project is here: “Born in Slavery” Slave Narratives from the Federal Writer’s Project 1936-1938 . This online collection came about thanks to the efforts of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress. The online collection includes over 200 photographs from the Prints and Photographs Division. I must note that Citigroup Foundation contributions are the reason we are able to access Born in Slavery today. No doubt, the purpose behind this federal project was to retain, restore, and to retell the nightmares as well as the triumphs of that generation. I am grateful to every former slave who was willing to relive his or her life, to every writer who painstakingly transcribed their story into a written account, and to all people who contributed to creating our ability to read these tales on line.
My hope is to recreate a world that contained both evil and good, selfish and caring, and hopeless and inspiring characters- a world much like ours today. Although some may feel this historic time was eons ago, in so many ways, we today can find inspiration and courage to live our daily lives from their example.