School of Hard Knocks is finally out on all platforms and ready for you to read. This one is different. It’s a historical. It’s Southern Fiction. It would be called Women’s Fiction in the NYC publishing world. It has a touch of mysticism in it, because I wrote it after all. Here’s what it’s about:
“The segregation lines are clear in 1950s North Carolina, but the bloodlines—not so much. The past and present intertwine when Maggie Winters risks a friendship with Lily and rescues her daughter and Lily from abuse by the same family that tormented Maggie as a young girl in the 1890s.
Raised on a decaying plantation in 1890s North Carolina, Maggie Winters sees it all—a woman beaten nearly to death, hidden in the barn, and healed by her African-American mother; a man lynched; and the machinations of a white woman hired to teach her to read but who has become determined to marry Maggie’s widowed white father. When Maggie’s father is forced by his Virginia family to marry someone more appropriate, Maggie and her mother are left without protection.
In the 1950s, young Caroline Hauser copes with her mother Lily’s descent into madness by reaching out to the spirit world. Caroline’s mother begs Maggie to help save her child from damnation.
Will appeal to readers of The Secret Life of Bees and The Help.”
This book started in journal writing from the 1980s and expanded into more bits and pieces when I took Beverly Donofrio’s workshop at the Moravian Writers’ Conference. I was inspired by her brutal honesty of Astonished, the account of her attack by a serial rapist. Such lyrical beauty and terrifying realism.
I finished a polished draft about a year ago and sent it out to agents since it’s on the literary side and I hoped to land a big contract. But I was disabused of this notion by a literary agency that wanted to buy the book, but they were concerned about a white woman writing one major character who was African American.
But I knew Mamie, who is Maggie in the book. She was my mother’s friend and she did help me and my mother out of a very frightening time. Perhaps today my mother would have been diagnosed with post-partum depression, but she was also struggling with a man whose only role model for being a father had been abusive. He later worked his way out of this, but when I was an infant and toddler, life was tough. And he did have that accident driving home from a bar that landed him in jail. And me being psychic (I inherited some of this from my mother), I reached out to the spirits who were hovering around trying to help me through a terrifying time. We all made it through, in large part thanks to Mamie, so this one’s for her and my mother.
So you can see this book is part fiction, part autobiography. By now, it’s hard to separate the two because when we write about a real event, it tends to take a different shape on the page. And obviously I wasn’t alive in 1890, at least not in this form, so I made up a childhood for Maggie.
I hope you like it, but don’t worry if you prefer my Visionary Fiction. My next book is #3 of the Power Places series. Stay tuned. (And remember, we writers depend on reviews.)