I grew up among storytellers, musicians, sinners, and song writers, secrets whispering outside my window.
During the summer months, I walked through the southern soil in bare feet, the earth’s energy moving from my soles to my head, the taste of freshly-picked blackberries in my mouth, the sun hot on my fair skin. By the age of eight, I was skilled enough in the kitchen to fry chicken in a skillet popping with hot lard. It must have been good; nobody complained. It took me a bit longer to learn to cook grits. I tended to cook them on a too high setting, scorching them in the process.
Many readers have wanted to know more about my love for music, about how I came to include the blues in my first novel. I grew up listening to country music with my father. He loved Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. In my early teens, when I was alone, I listened to what my father called hippie music. In the 7th grade, when a friend needed money and offered to sell me some albums, I saved my lunch money and every penny I earned until I had enough to buy McCartney, an album by Paul McCartney. From the same friend, I bought Tapestry by Carole King, and, for the song Ruby Tuesday, I purchased the album Between the Buttons by the Rolling Stones. The albums were already years old when I bought them, yet the music was good and filling. I loved the bluesy sound of Bobbie Gentry singing Ode to Billy Joe. She possessed a sound that moved me. Music was important to me then and it is today. Some of my earliest memories involve music. It seemed only natural to make music a central part of my novel Dogwood Blues.
Thank you for reading! Numerous book clubs in the South invited me to their homes to speak about Dogwood Blues. I was touched by their kindness, interest in my book, insight into the themes and motifs, and the process of my writing.
I’ll leave you with a few comments I’ve received about Dogwood Blues.
“You writing is poetic, so much so that I feel that I’m reading both a novel and a poem at the same time. It’s beautiful. Please write another novel soon.”
“I loved to hate Nell. She’s my favorite bitch ever.”
“The theme of miracles in Dogwood Blues touched me. I noticed that Jasmine hopes for a miracle. Jake doesn’t believe in miracles. And Kevin catches a miracle. In the end I think they all receive miracles. Not miracles related to religion. Miracles of living.”
“I like the way you used Letter to the Editor of the newspaper to represent the issues of the community.”
“Thank you for addressing the issue of homophobia and racism. You made me think about my own life and how I treat others. We can all do better.”
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