Today our guest is S.K. Nicholls, author of yesterday’s book “Red Clay and Roses”. You can check out my review of the book here. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4Ge
Let’s find out more about Susan and her writing.
1) Where is your home town?
I was born in LaGrange, Georgia, USA, and lived in the surrounding area while bringing up my own children.
2) How long have you been writing?
I first had a short story published when I was seventeen and in high school. I put writing aside while focused on my nursing career. Upon retirement in 2011, I picked it up again. A visit to my father in 2012 stirred up an old story from my youth that I still wanted to tell. So I set myself to writing it down.
3) What key element inspired this book?
Based on a true story, it was finding the ledger in 1992 that truly propelled the development of the story, but there is something more. So many have this image of the Deep South as one of little old white ladies sitting on the front porch swing sipping mint juleps. Life and reality was more harsh than that for most people, especially the African Americans. I have mixed race grandchildren. I presented the world historically as it truly was for many. There was hardship, dilemma, and many secrets kept. We are more open and accepting now. I don’t want to see us go back there. We learn from history how to move forward.
4) Did you have to do a lot of research or did you interview people too?
The octogenarians were interviewed, and my father who is seventy five. An enormous amount of research went into the book to assure its historical accuracy. All of the events and setting locations are very real, and had to be researched.
5) I’m not sure what “Jim Crow Law” was, can you tell us more?
The Jim Crow laws were racial segregation laws enacted between 1876 and 1965 in the United States at the state and local level. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a separate but equal status for African Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African Americans that tended to be inferior to those provided for white Americans systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages, and leading to prejudice and severe racism. Even though these laws were declared unconstitutional in 1965, many communities continued the segregation long into the seventies.
South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina were the Confederate states, and Kentucky was provisional.
Some examples of Jim Crow laws were; the segregation of public schools, public places (swimming pools, doctors and dentists offices), and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, clothing stores, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated.
“Jump Jim Crow” was a song-and-dance caricature of blacks performed by white actors painted in blackface. That is believed to be where the name Jim Crow law for this collection of state laws came from.
6) Nathan took part in several campaigns for Civil Rights, can you tell the readers about some of them.
The Freedom Rides were a campaign for blacks to assert themselves in avoiding discrimination practices. The black men would ride in the whites only passenger cars on trains. Other black men would ride in the black cars in case there was trouble, which there often was, as the white passengers rebelled and fought. Many blacks were arrested and beaten for their actions.
The Sit-Ins were started by black university students who would sit down in whites only dining establishments for the same reasons and with the same outcomes.
There were many protests, marches and demonstrations, like Bloody Sunday, some peaceful and some not so, where blacks were joined by liberal minded whites who championed the causes of Civil Right.
7) Sybil faced her own demons when she became pregnant, but she dealt with the situation as best she could. Do you think she made the right decision?
For her, it was right, but I did feel she should have been honest with Nathan, to at least let him know about the pregnancy, yet I can understand why she didn’t. Althea, Bonnie Jean and Sybil all found different ways to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Who am I to decide what was best or right for any of them?
8) When Trent was sent to prison, Sybil faced several hardships, which was worst do you think?
I think the difficulties she ran into with trying to manage her business were the hardest for her, because she had put so much of herself into its success.
9) Which part of the book was your favourite and why?
I don’t know if I have a favourite part. I liked different parts for different reasons. I liked how Ms. Bea’s character developed. I liked Moses’ stories and his character…but then, these were real people I had met in my own life. The entire story demonstrated the sacrifices that real people made in order to attempt to achieve social progress. These were common ordinary people, who were deeply affected by politics on a micro-level. The very end, in the conclusion, has special meaning to me personally as it conveys a hope for future generations. Sybil and her family are my family.
10) I would describe your book as a window in history for readers to enjoy rather than a book with a massively pleasing commercial content, am I correct?
I did not write Red Clay and Roses with marketing in mind. I wrote the story passionately from my heart based on real life events. I did not deviate from what actually occurred in order to make a more sellable story. It is a fictionalized true story. Outside the realm of genre fiction, it is a niche read.
Thank you Susan for being our guest today.