Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance was originally written by Lillian Jones Horace 68 years ago. What inspiration did you find in this book that made you want to publish an annotated scholarly edition?
I am certain that most of my admiration stems from my appreciation for Horace, the African American southern woman writer, who remained true to her commitment to write “creatively but constructively.” Before I began conducting research on Horace and her writings, she and the archival material treating her life and works were largely overlooked by scholars.
The protagonists she created all exemplify the kind of determination that Horace herself demonstrated throughout her life.
I wanted to create an annotated scholarly edition to help Angie Brown find its way into the literary canon, where students and scholars of African American literature could weigh in on its value.
Angie Brown is a strong women that is finding her path through troubled times. What are some things you admire about her character?
I admire Angie’s determination, practicality, openness to learning, friendly nature, and commitment to progress.
What kind of research did you do for this novel and Lillian Jones Horace?
I conducted extensive archival research to better understand Horace and the characters she created. A comprehensive list of the repositories I visited appears in my first book-length publication on Horace titled, Recovering Five Generations Hence: The Life and Writing of Lillian Jones Horace (2013). I have been researching and writing about Horace since 2003. Her papers are held in the Fort Worth Public Library, Fort Worth, TX.
I understand you contacted some of the Horace family for this book. What were their reactions to you pursuing this 100 year old story?
I contacted her niece and two of her great nieces. Her great niece, who remembered her well, knew that Lillian Horace was a respected educator, but she had no idea that Horace had written two historic novels. Most of what I shared with her and other family members about Lillian Horace was new to them.
Do you have any other books in the works?
Yes. I am working on an edited version of Lillian Horace’s diary, and a book project comparing and contracting the trajectory of Horace’s life and works to those of her younger and more popular southern African American contemporary, Zora Neale Hurston.
“Angie Brown is a romance migration novel set in the Jim Crow era. Angie, the protagonist, determines to embrace all life has to offer despite the social restrictions facing young black southern women like her. Angie holds fast to her desire to find financial success, personal fulfillment, and true love, but she does not achieve her dreams alone, nor do they unfold in the same place. From Belle, her confidant; to Betty Yates, the teacher; to Chester, the pool hall owner; women and men from various social stations in life and different places share nuggets of wisdom with Angie. With their love and support, she overcomes tragedy, welcomes fresh possibilities, climbs the social ladder, and opens her heart to love. Angie’s progressive journey reflects the migratory trek of many African American Southerners of the Jim Crow era, who left the South for greater educational and economic opportunity. Her quest leads her from a small segregated community to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and eventually to the Midwest, including St. Louis, Missouri, Chicago, and Southern Illinois. As Angie travels from place to place, she gradually comes into her own and learns key life lessons. Angie learns that struggle is universal. While doing domestic work, she discovers that whites, who live on “The Other Side,” also experience pain, suffering, and grave disappointment. Love eludes white women, too, and they, too, face gender discrimination. Having overcome her fair share of personal losses, Angie reaches across racial lines to console Gloria, a member of the Parker family, for whom Angie does domestic work. Her experience with the Parker’s is juxtaposed to her dealings with the Mungers, a rich, Northern white family she meets. Although the Mungers are kind to Angie, she learns that life beyond the South is not perfect. Yes, she and other blacks face less virulent forms of racism outside the South, but economic stability and educational opportunity are not easily achieved.”
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Our tale centers around the life of one woman, Angie Brown, as she struggles to live and love in an unforgiving world. Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance was originally written by Lillian Jones Horace 68 years ago. Angie Brown is a window to the past: a look at what life was like for black people during the Jim Crow era. It opens with heartbreak as Angie is denied medical care for her ailing child. Angie is at a disadvantage for her entire life simply for being black. Her child is black. Therefore, they are treated as less than second-class citizens. The beginning of Angie’s heartbreak occurred before that moment, but is amplified as her child dies in her arms: denied a potentially life-saving treatment solely based on the color of his skin.
Many books about this subject can feel like textbooks, but this book is beautiful and heartfelt. Wrapped up in an emotional love story, Angie Brown will teach its readers about life from the point of view of a young woman. She has loved, she has lost both her husband, Jim, and her son. She finds herself abandoned with no way to return home. Her religious mother has forsaken her and Angie must persevere if she wants to survive. Through her sorrow and her uncertainty Angie rises above the hand that life has dealt her. She works her hardest to become someone she can deem as worthy.
While there is activism in this book on Angie’s part, it doesn’t overshadow the romance. It is important to understand that Angie is not going to take her fate lying down. As she learns and exposes herself to the world she begins to understand that she can make a difference if she wants to. Her eyes are opened to the trappings of the world and she realizes that someone must stand up for the young black children who are disadvantaged solely because of their skin color. Described with powerful words the reader may feel as though they are there as Angie involves herself with politics and does her best to support Roosevelt in his bid for president. He desires to be a president for all people, something that Angie believes in.
Angie loves. She loses and she finds herself in sorrow. She sees the disgusting side of the world and she sees the beauty in it as well. She builds herself up from the timid young girl to the successful woman at the end of our tale. Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance by Lillian Jones Horace will show readers the beauty and agony of love against the backdrop of a time where injustice was rampant in the South. There are reading comprehension questions at the end of the book which make this an excellent selection for further classroom reading or even as an addition to a book club roster. The romance is beautiful in this tale but the underlying message is just as important. Whether you’re reading for fun or reading to learn more, you will not be disappointed with this book. Even though so much time has passed, this timeless piece remains poignant and elegant.
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Hidden in Plain Sight follows Jason White as he discovers a devastating family secret about the identity of his biological father. This is an intriguing setup to a well-developed novel. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
The inspiration was a reoccurring dream I had for over a year starting in 2001. I quite literally had the dream every single night, sometimes multiple times per night. It was very disturbing not just because of the imagery but also because of HOW I experienced the dream. As I went through the mental movie each night I would become a character. For example, one night I would be Jason. I would have all of Jason’s thoughts and memories from birth to present. I would think like Jason and see things the way Jason saw them. Not only that but I would dream the exact same dream with the exact same dialogue but from Jason’s perspective. The next night I may go to bed and become Lucy in the dream!
The dreams were so incredibly vivid that when I awoke it would take a few seconds for me to come back into myself again. I experienced phantom pain and the emotional residue of the character as I regained consciousness. I honestly thought I was cracking up! Long story short I tried and failed to journal the dream in a notebook. I sat down at the computer and began to type it out instead. Months later I finished and had over two million words. It was a story! I knew the name was Under The Shadow Of The Almighty because it deals with living in the shadow of the ‘almighty’ celebrity types but also living under the Shadow of an Almighty God as outlined in Psalm 91 (Bible). I was advised that I had a series on my hands and needed to break the book down into smaller books. The first installment is Hidden In Plain Sight.
I thought you did a great job drawing the reader into the culture surrounding the life of the families that make these super churches function. Is there any moral or idea that you hope readers take away from the story?
I would like the readers to realize that religious leaders are people too with families and lives to live. Leaders have histories and not all of them are pretty. I want people to develop a compassion for leaders rather than being so quick to tear them down. At the same time I also want people to understand that no person is worthy of a pedestal. Respect is one thing but worshipping a person is another. We live in a church culture that has created rock stars out of their leaders. Even if the leader is a good, honest person, the rock star mentality is dysfunctional and often corrupts sparking a sense of entitlement.
Mega churches are essentially large corporations and due to the size of the membership need to be run as such to make sure every ‘I’ is dotted and every ‘T’ crossed. That being stated, some neglect the faith aspect in favor of the dollar which causes situations like Bishop Stewart. Others neglect the business side in favor of faith which often results in IRS charges, church foreclosures and other financial embarrassments. As with everything else, there needs to be a balance.
I also need for people to realize that just because someone calls themselves a pastor, bishop (or whatever), does not mean they are called to that role. It also does not mean they are honest, good, operate in integrity, etc. Too many churches are led by Quincy Stewart-types. It is obvious to the naked eye but the members choose to remain blind to it or if they see the shenanigans, they makes excuses because it is easier to ignore than to confront.
I felt that Jason White was a complex character. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?
Ah, yes. Jason. It was important to understand the slights Jason experienced in his childhood with regard to his sister’s fathers and the majority of his external family. He was unwanted and they had no problems telling and showing him how they felt. An impoverished childhood with an oft absent mother who worked three jobs put a very large chip on his shoulder. That chip caused him to also strive to be the best which he accomplished thanks to educational intervention from his aunt. Then his mother’s sudden lifestyle switch had her turning to God when he was a preteen. That change rubbed Jason the wrong way. It made anything dealing with faith a turn off for him because he saw it as a intrusion into his life that took more than it gave. All of those things also speak to Jason’s misogyny in the form of using women as a means to an end. It also speaks to his resentment of men in authority / father figures.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be published?
I am currently working on the second (yet unnamed) installment in the Under The Shadow Of The Almighty Series. Although it was written 14-15 years ago, it requires a lot of clean up. Now that I have been through the publishing process once I am viewing it with fresh eyes and a better understanding of what it takes to tell a story. I have no idea when it will be released I hope it will be out at least by this time next year but that all depends on how long it takes me to complete it as well as my publisher’s timeline.
When Philly-born playboy, Jason White, discovers a devastating family secret about the identity of his biological father, he launches an angry quest to find and confront the man. A lengthy investigation into his father, a prominent pastor of a large church in North Carolina, spurs a quick, covert, out-of-town visit to the pastor s church on Easter Sunday. Will Jason follow through on his desire to destroy the man he believes left him alone and in poverty? In Raleigh, North Carolina, the greedy and lecherous Bishop Quincy Stewart’s less than discreet history of deceit and all around messiness is threatened with exposure when he loses control over his manufactured persona. A chance encounter and life-changing lunch unlocks the chains holding Stewart s wife, Lucy, hostage and sets the stage for a much needed shift in her life. In a desperate act to break his wife s spirit and force her into compliance, Bishop Stewart does the unthinkable. Will he go down for his horrific actions? Will Lucy ever be set free from the pain he has caused her? The Camelot-like existence of popular and honorable Bishop James Collins becomes shrouded in an indefinable dark cloud when his wife, Victoria, invites an unstable element into their lives. Will Bishop Collins overcome being blindsided by the ugly truths he s forced to face or will his life and ministry be forever changed?
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A man of God does not always equate to a Godly man. In Sharon Moore’s novel Hidden in Plain Sight the reader is submerged into the life of two Bishops; Bishop James Collins and Bishop Quincy Stewart. Both minister to super churches in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina. They have competing congregations that appeal to similar groups but the two Bishops have drastically different goals and priorities. Both men are married and like their churches, their marriages are different and mirror their situations. Playing off well known images of the African American society Moore draws the reader into the culture surrounding the life of the people and families that make these super churches function. The novel also reminds us that just being ordained in the house of God does not remove one from all sin and does not make one perfect.
This story takes place in modern time, going back to the early 60’s when the characters meet. You learn how James Collins and Quincy Stewart meet their wives and start building up their mega church communities. The readers are also introduced to Jason White, the 29-year-old, grew up and out of the ghetto man, that has a chip on his shoulder and is out for revenge. It is discovered early in the novel that one of the Bishop’s is his father, but it isn’t said right off who. Jason’s mother, Bridgett, has recently died and his aunt tells him the truth about his family and father. This sets him off and he decides to seek out his father for revenge but he is unsure what exactly he wants. While seeking out his father he himself starts finding himself taking an interest in becoming and more Godly man. While James Collins appears the model Bishop with a happy family life, there is some underlying tension with his oldest son Lee. Quincy Stewart is quickly shown to be an abusive and manipulative man who cares only for his own needs and appearances.
The stories of the bishop’s families and Jason White all intermingle by the end of this novel. Outside influences play a large part but so do the internal struggles of each character. One disappointing point of this novel is the ending. This book is the first in a series, typically in a book series, one story line would be concluded with tie ins to the next novel, this book ends like a TV series season ending, cliffhanger with no resolution and just many questions. I found this frustrating especially given the volatile situation one character ends up in.
Moore does a good job bringing out the personalities and culture of her character’s environment. The use of traditional African American dialect is used not to be profane or show ignorance, rather it is indicative of the normal conversational language of the culture. She also does a good job showing how the mega church culture is more than just a church, it is a life style for those that their entire lives revolve around the church. Hidden in Plain Sight shows the good and the bad involved with the community and struggles and challenges it presents, especially on the families living it. Over all it is a great start to the series and I look forward to seeing how things go in the lives of all the characters.
Pages: 290 | ASIN: B01JBKHIZY
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