Posted by Literary Titan
Cleon’s tells the personal story of co-author Amy Grantham in a wistful picture book about growing up in her family’s homeplace in Southwest Tennessee. How did the idea for this book begin and how did you come to collaborate on the project?
I talked to April a lot about the place that we consider to be our “homeplace.” Generations of my family had lived in the house and on the land there. It’s such a special place to us that I wanted to share it with her as well. We had visited the place together, and she had heard a million of my stories from me and other family members before the project ever began.
I loved the pictures in the book. How did you decide which pictures to include?
April was responsible for the photographs that are used at the center of each page. She, with the permission of my cousin who owned the place at the time, went there and took the photos without me. She put them together in a scrapbook with the story and surprised me with it as a gift. When I started putting the project together for print, I added photos and keepsakes to the background that came from my family’s belongings. There’s a receipt from my granddad’s days working at a local hospital. There are letters that my great-uncle Cortez sent to my aunt, Cleon, from when he was a soldier in World War II. Pins, coins, paperclips, and other items came from my grandparents’ things. The only old photo in the book is of my aunt, Cleon, who owned the place most of my life. She was a pivotal person to us all, and was our matriarch for so many years.
What were some ideas, or emotions, that were important for you to convey in this book?
After April gave me the scrapbook, I shared it with my family. So many of them loved it so much that they asked us to reproduce it. We wanted to share our love for the house and land with others. We knew other people had their own “homeplaces” in their lives and could relate. Cleon’s, as I call the place, feels like the quintessential Tennessee homeplace to me. A friend mentioned that the book conveyed “object permanence.” We all have those tangible things and places tied to so many memories. People outside of the family won’t recognize every little thing in the photos, but they may be able to tie it to the things that they remember and feel nostalgic about.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m not sure what our next project will be, but I’m looking forward to working with April again. This was our third book together, and I’d love to add many more.
Posted in Interviews
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