Romanticized The Hell Out Of It
Book of Matthew Part I is a tale of forbidden love in rural Missouri in 1850 which was a tumultuous time in the U.S. What was the inspiration that inspired the setup to this intriguing novel?
It all began with a conversation. I had just started dating the man who is now my husband and we were still getting to know one another. He asked if I would vote in the upcoming election and I replied, “of course I will. My ancestors fought and died to give me the right to. Without their sacrifices I wouldn’t be able to vote, own property, read, let alone attend my university. I wouldn’t even be able to date you.” After that conversation I started to wonder how difficult it would have been to have an interracial relationship centuries ago and my first book was born.
I have always been a lover of suspense, mystery and horror so I decided to write in these genres. My goal was to create a Jack the Ripper sort of villain, while maintaining the drama, romance and personal conflicts that make characters relatable and memorable.
While growing up I noticed a double standard in regard to history. If you were white and you wanted to trace your lineage back to the Mayflower this was perfectly acceptable. People were intrigued to hear your family’s history and they encouraged and praised your vast knowledge of a bygone era… but if you were black you were often discouraged from learning anything about your ancestry. I was told things like, “Black people need to leave the plantation,” and “Black people live in the past and need to just forget things.” Yearning to educate myself about the past is not the same as living in it. I didn’t desire someone to blame or scapegoat, all I wanted was the same answers that other races of children were encouraged to seek out.
When I received correspondence from readers in England, France, Ireland and several countries in Africa they applauded my stories and said, “Wow! This was a fascinating look at American history.” Not Black history, nor African American history. Other countries acknowledge this topic as American history because that’s exactly what it is. When I am criticized for this subject matter my response remains the same,
I don’t write racist literature. Nor do I write black history. I write American history.
The book touches on sensitive social topics rarely discussed, slavery and the dynamic between master and slave. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
The main theme I wanted to capture was that every form of this institution was morally reprehensible. When I grew up in school most of my teachers refused to teach this subject whatsoever. We would skip over huge chunks of our textbooks just to avoid it. The few who did teach about it romanticized the hell out of it, and made it seem acceptable because “most slaves were like part of the family” …I actually heard this more than once. What I desired to express in this story was that even if you were a house slave who was treated better than others and much like part of the family, merely being owned endangered your life because someone has diminished your social standing from that of a human being to that of a piece of property. This fact alone placed even the best treated of slaves at risk for kidnapping, rape and murder with no law enforcement to save them.
Second, I wanted to make it known that when some of us are slaves, we all are. Destitute white men, minorities and women of all colors were treated as second class citizens because of that system of inequality.
Third, I wanted to acknowledge all the people who were adamantly opposed to slavery and fought against it at every turn. 400 years of Americans are blamed and villainized for what some people did. Though slavery was socially acceptable, not everyone agrees with 100% of what is socially acceptable. Disagreeing with social norms is what makes us individuals. Fighting against corrupt social norms is what makes us heroes. The people who stood against these heinous acts are rarely recognized, but without them our society would’ve failed to evolve.
Sarah is a slave that is targeted by a serial killer that murders with impunity. What were the driving ideals behind Sarah’s character development?
The driving force behind Sarah’s character development was the total lack thereof I have witnessed in similar stories. In many of the plantation novels I have read the slaves are faceless one-dimensional victims who serve as little more than background for white main characters. The female slave characters were poorly developed and served as little more than objects of lust incapable of inspiring true feelings of love and affection. Reading a plantation novel with no black main characters is like reading Memoirs of a Geisha with no geisha. These stories failed to capture my attention and I found the characters unrealistic and totally unrelatable. When I wrote a book I was determined to make sure there were black main characters as well as white ones, and that ALL of my characters have depth and unique personalities. I wanted Sarah’s character to have hopes, dreams, ambitions, drama and romantic conflicts of her own. I yearned to put a human face on a slave character, an aspect rarely seen in books of this nature. Though there have been many forbidden lust stories in this genre I wanted to give Sarah an against all odds forbidden love story readers wouldn’t soon forget.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Revelations: The Colburn Curse is a prequel to Book of Matthew that traces the Colburn family back to their beginnings in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this story Matt Colburn Sr. is a young plantation heir who has been given the duty of protecting an aristocrat named, Arial. He falls madly in love with the elusive heiress, but she is hiding a deadly secret that has made her the target of the Louisiana Strangler, a secret that endangers everyone she holds dear, especially Matt. This book is already available for purchase on amazon.com.
The Infinity series is based on the many star crossed lifetimes of Sarah and Matthew. I wrote this series for readers who enjoy historical suspense but prefer a tale with less violence and adult content. Three of the ten books are already available on amazon.com.
Book of Matthew II: Ancient Evil will be released December 2018.
Author Links: Barnes & Noble | BookBub | Website
Women of color are not a priority of law enforcement in 1800’s Missouri. They are not even considered human. These social injustices allow a serial killer to run rampant. Sarah, a beautiful black slave, finds herself in the crosshairs of a monster who murders with impunity. The only one concerned with her plight is the master’s son. Will Matthew find the strength to rescue this slave girl, even if he lacks the courage to admit he’s in love with her…
It’s Jack the Ripper meets Roots in this pulse pounding historical thriller. House of Whispers packs the chills of a Stephen King book, the romance of a Nicholas Sparks novel and the in your face irony of an M. Night Shyamalan flic.
Buy on Barnes & Noble
Posted in Interviews
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The Contemporary Christian Colouring Book
Mindfulness and mediation are creeping into more parts of society. Things that were once meant for children are evolving for adults to enjoy as well. One of these is colouring books. No longer is this pastime reserved strictly for young children. There is a soothing sense that one can derive from colouring an image. It does not require much artistic talent either. Along with this shift to the adult mindset comes The Contemporary Christian Colouring Book by Rev. Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriada. Coupling the peaceful activity with biblical themes and images this book is a perfect gift for the devout. Each image evokes the idea of a stained-glass window one might see inside a church depicting various scenes from the bible. There is some melding of these scenes with modern technology which just serves to remind us that Christ is still present today.
The book begins with a lovely forward from Ruth Finnegan, operator of Living Tree Publishers that has produced this colouring book. In it, she seeks to remind us why we are drawn to art and why we colour. It is the marriage of that simple meditation with something tangible. A brief biography is also given of the artist who designed the pictures, Lozada-Uzuriada himself. The images are carefully crafted to convey the message of a particular scene or passage from the bible in a format that is easily understood. Titles are given to each piece to help the user remember which part of the bible and which story the scene belongs to. The line work is heavy and dark; much like stained glass itself. This is useful for those who colour because it easily defines which sections are contained.
Given that the images impress upon this writer scenes in stained glass windows, it serves to mention that the content of this colouring book is better suited for adults. The expressions of various people within the scenes could be taken as angry, frightening or scary. Young children need to have faith in the beauty and gentleness of the Bible and exposing them to this colouring book without proper context might serve to scare them, rather than inspire them. That aside, this book is a wonderful compilation of some of the more memorable pieces of scripture that one might want to colour and perhaps display in their home. Christ is a central figure in most of the pieces of this book.
With the world’s attention focusing more on mindfulness and meditation for the adults in the world, colouring has become a de-stressor for many. The Contemporary Christian Colouring Book by Rev. Ernesto Lozada-Usuriada is a must-have piece for those of the Christian faith who would like to colour while they meditate. Being able to add a personal touch to such moving and important points of Christian faith allows those who use this book to come closer to the inner workings of their faith. It is nice to see how something as traditional and sacred as someone’s faith can mix and meld with the current needs.
Pages: 46 | ISBN: 1326968165
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
Tags: amazon, amazon books, art, author, bible, biblical, book, book review, books, christ, christian, color, coloring, coloring book, Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriada, faith, jesus, meditate, meditation, picture, publishing, religion, review, reviews, ruth finnegan, The Contemporary Christian Colouring Book
One of the joys of childhood is sitting with someone and reading a favorite story over and over again. The kind of story that sticks with you, and works it’s way into your heart. The Grumpface is that kind of story. It is about a grumpy old man that is cursed and lives in the forest of Ho. He captures unsuspecting travelers that get lost in the forest and they must complete a challenge to earn their freedom. If they cannot complete any of the three challenges they are trapped in the forest forever. In this story an inventor named Daffy Dan is looking for a rose to win the love of a girl named Bella. Bella sells flowers in the village but longs for a rose that she cannot grow. Dan thinks that if he can bring Bella a rose, he will have the courage to finally speak to her and win her heart. As he searches the forest of Ho, he gets caught by Grumpface and must find a way to escape or he will never have the chance to see Bella and tell her how he feels.
The first thing that grabbed me about this book, was the amazing illustrations. Grumpface at his worst is still funny enough to not frighten my four-year-old daughter. She fell in love with this book the first time she saw me reading it and saw the bright pink bird in the first challenge. The images throughout are all done with detail and colors that draw you into the story more. They complement the text in an artistic way as well as helping convey the emotions. The rhythm of the rhyming makes the story entertaining and flow smoothly. It is perfect for young readers, but not too silly that it will make parents want to hide the book after a week. One of the great morals of the story is to find the humor in life even when things don’t go your way. Daffy Dan is clumsy and riddled with bad luck it seems, it makes him relatable to young readers that are often clumsy themselves. Dan’s creative inventions all sound like great ideas and spark the imagination of readers as well. Grumpface is like the teacher or parent that just stares in disbelief at the crazy things Dan does. Together the pair make a memorable story that will leave you laughing.
B.C.R. Fegan and D. Frongia have created a beautiful and enchanting tale with The Grumpface. They manage to convey the fear and concern of Dan throughout the story, the disappointment he feels as things don’t go his way, and the joy he feels as he thinks he finally got it. The story touches the hearts of adults and keeps children entertained. It the teaches morals of persistence, compassion, and friendship. This is a book you will want to keep on hand to read for years to come.
Pages: 34 | ASIN: B06XFFK7VZ
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
Tags: adventure, amazon, amazon books, amazon ebook, art, author, bcr fegan, beautiful, book, book review, books, challenge, children book, children fantasy, color, compassion, d frongia, ebook, ebooks, enchanting, fairy tale, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, folk lore, forest, frienship, fun, fun story, goodreads, image, imagination, kids, kids book, kids fantasy, kindle, kindle book, kindle ebook, literature, love, magic, moral, myth, novel, persistence, picture book, publishing, reading, review, reviews, short stories, stories, the grumpface, writing
Bully Route Home
Bully Route Home by DJ Havlin is a coming of age story. It follows Robert William Robertson, aka “Pooch,” as he learns some of the hard lessons of life including racism, standing up for what’s right and learning how to handle different situations. As he does tasks that seem mundane such as taking a catfish off a hook, he is taught valuable life lessons. The story focuses on the effects of racism on a small town in a time where hatred ran rampant. As Pooch tries to avoid a beating from the bully, he inadvertently creates chaos within the town. He finds a new friend in Carver, a black boy from the “quarters”, and in turn Pooch’s father hires Carver’s father as a supervisor much to the dismay of the town. The after effects of Lee’s decision effects not only Lee and the plant but also the children at school. Havlin provides an honest and uncensored look at the negative aspect of the human species.
Pooch is a young man full of innocence and naivety. His opinion of a person doesn’t stop at the color of his skin. This viewpoint within a young child and his father spark a rebellion within the town. While Pooch is learning lessons of life and growing up faster than he should, readers are learning as well. This is a book that will cause readers to think. The book is beautifully written and addresses a subject that too often we are afraid to address. While the novel uses certain language, it is done tastefully and in a manner that portrays the viewpoint and culture of the time being depicted.
The characters are complex and grow with depth as the book progresses. Pooch is an incredibly strong character with strong moral values. He doesn’t intend to spark change when he befriends Carver, it just inevitably happens. Throughout the town struggle we see the harsh reality of hatred. Havlin portrays this marvelously through not only dialogue, but the action of the towns folk. I found myself worrying about the Williams family and hoped to have seen more of Carver throughout the hardships. I enjoyed Rebecca’s character as well. While we seen the negativity of human character through many characters, we also see innocence and purity in Rebecca, even when she wants to fight those who challenge her. Lee Robertson is another strong character supporting his son, and displaying the beliefs and actions he wants him (Pooch) to learn. He risks everything to do the right thing and doesn’t back down in the face of adversity. He wants Pooch to learn to the same values and while he seems a strict parent, he does what he thinks is best for all his children. He reminds me a lot of Atticus Finch, fighting for what is right and enduring the aftermath of his decisions.
Havlin’s descriptions are elegant and on point, he doesn’t spend too much time with fluff. His words are direct and to the point. He knows exactly the right words to say in order to expertly evoke emotions from his readers. I cannot begin to say how times I wanted to cry or gasp out of surprise. There were other times when my heart just sank at the actions of one human towards another. DJ Havlin takes one of the dark shadows on our history and brings it to life, brings it to reality. We all heard the stories in school; DJ Havlin’s novel makes it all too real. He doesn’t shy away from the horrors one group of people caused another. It became a story something different from what I was expecting. This is definitely a book that needs to be read just as much as Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer or Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.
Pages: 356 | ISBN: 1938002512
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
Tags: adversity, amazon, amazon books, book, book review, books, bully route home, bullying, color, dl havlin, ebooks, fiction, literature, publising, race, racism, reading, writing