50% off coupon for Honor and Lies and the link to buy the book at the bottom of this blog.
I suppose I should start this at the beginning, so I will.
I’m the product of a southern home. Not the Mississippi twang, Georgia Peach or Darlington tobacco farmer south, but the rowdy Oklahoma and outlaw Texas south.
In 1982, when I walked into a relative’s house with a friend chatting away about the wonders of sixth grade, the relative stopped us and told my friend to step away from me because he didn’t want her talking to a “nigger lover” like me. (author aside: His words, not mine. I know they’re full of hate. I don’t write the word lightly, but it’s the truth of what was said, and it’s important to the rest of the story.)
The source of his agitation was the gold and yellow ribbon and feather barrette I had hanging in my hair.
That was my first introduction to bigotry, and it made an indelible print on who I am today. And with that mark came the first whispers of soul for the characters in Honor and Lies.
Those first whispers became shouts in 1987, although I didn’t know it, when a great uncle of mine who wanted to be a part of the Sons of the Confederacy started his genealogical research, bound and determined to show an ancestor had voiced a rebel yell during the Civil War.
His search brought fantastic results. Ancestors had not only fought, they had a plantation in South Carolina, and it was still standing.
Immediately, he went in search of this missing family, more than ready to tell them about their long lost relatives in God’s country.
He searched a long while before finally finding a small church on the outskirts of this town, and there he learned that not only was there a plantation, there was also a road named after the family.
And so his quest began in earnest. He drove the “family” road up to the ancient house that stood a bit off the ground, with a great, sprawling porch around the entire structure and an equally ancient, old granny sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch with a shot gun across her lap.
When he got out of his car and approached the house, the old granny spit tobacco juice off to the side and asked him in direct terms what he wanted.
My uncle told the woman he was looking for the family place. He was a distant relative who had been tracing his ancestors and wanted to meet them.
My uncle says the old lady laughed. I imagine it was more of a cackle. Then she put the gun to the side, stood up and opened her arms up wide, saying, “Come and hug your granny, son.”
Or at least that’s the way the story goes.
Now my great uncle told this story to a house full of family in Oklahoma, and I could see the anticipation for the story’s end, a slide show made highlighting my uncle’s travel.
The lights went out and the slide projector came on, and there, on the screen before us, was the oldest, blackest person I’d ever seen.
She was Granny. The house was hers, and she was raising a whole new set of great grandchildren in it.
I wish I could have taped some of the reactions in the room. I bet a few of those people wished they weren’t in my grandma’s house because they sure did want to cuss.
With the Granny story, my characters slowly started on a road to fruition.
But the writer in me was afraid of them. So I waited.
I started my MA in 1997 with the full intention of doing my thesis over a comparison of 19th century northern women’s literature to 19th century southern women’s literature. I’d spent a great amount of time researching the topic and the century, and the whole women’s sphere idea interested me.
But then, Doctor Hoffman gave us a choice for our final paper. We could write the beginning research for our thesis, an in-depth study of the works we’d covered in class, or a novel written like or about the 19th century.
Granny whispered in my ear, and Honor and Lies was born. I hope you enjoy!
Honor and Lies coupon: 50% off for one month: coupon code is LH94Z
You can find the book here!