“I grew up in a home where reading was not requested, it was required.”
I’m a West Coast native, born and raised, and grew up with my nose in a book. I jokingly refer to my mother and grandmother as my first librarians. As a child I’d ask my mother a word definition. Her response never changed: “get the dictionary.” Mama knew the answers, but she intentionally taught me to seek knowledge and be comfortable in a world of words. My Granny? She was a little more subtle. She simply read. Constantly! While her days were filled with the duties and obligations of a housewife, mother of 9, grandmother of 22, (not to mention great grands) church mother and friend, Granny still managed to read. One of my fondest memories is my grandmother sitting in her favorite overstuffed chair, my cousins outside ripping and running, Granny with a book in her hands and me sitting at her feet with a book in mine. Those quiet moments, just the two of us each lost in our own literary worlds, were priceless and treasured. My grandmother loved her “cowboys” (not Dallas!) and devoured every Zane Grey western she could while I immersed myself in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s prairie life. (Peek in my book collection and you’ll find a tattered, well-read copy of Little House of the Prairie—a gift from Granny). My grandmother passed away in 1996. When she did, she left a fully-packed, backyard storage shed. What was inside? Books! A love of literature was her legacy.
My childhood was filled with reading—with Granny, at my public library, at my good friend’s house, she on one twin bed, me on the other, both of us lost in pages, oblivious to her houseful of siblings. Even as a teen, I devoured books. My aunt’s home library proved a treasure chest. That’s where, at the age of 14, I discovered Alex Haley’s Roots. I read it cover to cover. And a few other things my mother wouldn’t approve of…like Mandingo and… Never mind!
A love for reading provided a natural bridge to writing. I wanted to pen my own stories. As a child, I loved doodling and creating short stories or writing poetry. I had my first taste of publishing when my poetry was included in creative journals published by my junior high school, and later by my alma mater, the University of California Santa Barbara. I remember being admitted to UCSB and not knowing what major to choose. Scouring my options, I was torn between English and French (which to this day I still can’t speak). Then I saw Black Studies. I could actually earn a major by studying my own culture and history? Something clicked. I told myself: “One day you’re going to be a writer and you want your work to breathe historical and cultural accuracy beyond your own day-to-day experiences. Major in Black Studies!” I did. I graduated with high honors. The rest is herstory.
So, here I am: wife, mother, baker, and a wannabe gospel singer blessed to have provided vocals on numerous recordings. I’m a former stay-at-home mother (14 years, y’all!) and homeschool teacher who still reads voraciously. My…
ALL-TIME FAVORITE NOVEL: Sugar by Bernice McFadden
SECOND PLACE CONTENDERS: Standing at the Scratch Line (Guy Johnson) and The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner (Andrea Smith)
MOST JAW-DROPPING BOOK EVER READ: Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace
FAVORITE BOOK SERIES: Alexander McCall Smith’s Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
MOST-HEART WRENCHING: Billy (Albert French) and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (John Boye)
MOST BELOVED AND ZANY: Ernessa T. Carter’s 32 Candles (love it!)
FAVORITE AUTHORS: Dianne McKinney-Whetsone, Mary Burnett Smith, Andrea Smith (The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner); Claudia Mair Burney, J.D. Mason, and Trice Hickman
MY LITERARY GIANTS TO WHOM I PAY HOMAGE: Dr. Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Alex Haley, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alice Walker
MY GOOD MUSIC: India.Arie, Ledisi, Oleta Adams, Will Downing Jr., Anita Baker, Lisa Fischer, Rachelle Ferrell, Jessica Reedy, Ernest Pugh, and Stephanie Mills
FAVORITE FILMS: Old black & whites! I’ll take Stormy Weather, Lena Horne, Ethel Waters, and Bette Davis any time!
That’s me in a nutshell. A former columnist for MommyToo! Magazine, member of The Golden Key National Honors Society, founder/president of the Literary Ladies Alliance and co-founder of Reel Sistas (a movie club), I also write.
Thanks, again, for sharing time with me.
*You can peek at some of the books I’ve read at www.goodreads.com
Visit my Amazon.com author page at: amazon.com/author/