Finally. My book project is coming to life. My dream of writing is here. As I learn new things or have something interesting to share, I promise you, I’ll post it here. Now. Here is the story of my (first) book:
The Trouble with Virginia is a historical novel based on the true story of my great-great grandmother, Virginia. She was the daughter of a prosperous white plantation owner and a mulatto slave who lived openly as husband and wife — a dangerous way to live in the antebellum South. Virginia grew up with many privileges of her white father, yet her father had to buy her a husband from a nearby plantation. Her first two children were born into slavery—her father’s property. Then came the Civil War, marching right through Virginia’s front yard.
But this isn’t just a story about our distant past. My parents married in 1958–a time when it was still illegal for them to marry in sixteen states; like Virginia, my father is white and my mother is black. My parents believed there’s no such thing as race or color. I didn’t understand until I grew up how defining race still is; it may have been a hundred years later, but when I left home, neither side knew what to do with me. My parents loved me, but they didn’t prepare me for the fight that awaited me out in the world. I had no idea race was such a defining issue.
Though I’ve thought about this for quite a while, I’m now three years into serious research and have discovered a treasure-trove of historical documents and juicy tidbits and fascinating details about my ancestors’ shoulder-brushes with history. Add colorful family lore and my own childhood memories from summers at “the Homestead,” built for Virginia upon her marriage in 1850 and still standing, and the result is that I’ve unearthed quite a saga.
Part of the process, for me, has been researching to discover who I am; in doing so, I found not just my story but a story of America.