On August 1, 2013, I re-released my historical fiction novel, Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders, to much hoopla. It was the second edition of the novel having first published it in 2010 after completing it for the National Novel Writing Month contest in November 2009. Readers of the first edition had been waiting nearly 3 years for this moment. You see, this edition was quite different than the first in that it had: 1) a new cover, 2) a few new character additions, and 3) but most importantly, at the advice of an agent, more focus on the setting of the novel – historic Jackson Ward in Richmond, VA.
Historical fiction is probably one of the most difficult genres to write for many because there is much research involved on top of having to create fictional characters or plot around the history. But I have always loved History, even though I teach English Literature. I especially love African American history because it is filled with the trials and tribulations of a people who have fought to not only be free physically and mentally from the chains of slavery, but to live the “American Dream.”
So when I walked into the Black History Museum in Richmond, VA with my African American Literature students in April 2009 and saw old photographs of well to do dressed people of color surrounded by luxurious items in grand ballrooms or laughing and dining in fancy looking restaurants, I was intrigued. I asked the curator what it was I was observing and she proceeded to give me a brief history lesson on one of the most glamorous and prosperous times in Richmond history: Jackson Ward – or the “Deuce” as it was called – in the 1920s was one of the wealthiest, vibrant, entertainment hubs in the south – in America. These people were living the American Dream. They were wealthy, educated and proud. And I had to write about it. This former immigrant neighborhood, these people, had more to offer the world than the grand architecture of several prominent buildings, and, dare I say it, the legendary Maggie L. Walker.
The end result is Murder on Second Street, a blend of history, suspense and romance, and the 5 star reviews are demonstrating that this novel is not only entertaining readers, but educating them. I am receiving calls and emails from readers thanking me for teaching them about the role Negro men played in “The Great War,” and how much racism and hate they suffered against (several Negro soldiers in the south were lynched in their uniforms) once they returned home heroes – in the eyes of Europe only, it seems. Or how they didn’t know that “The Black Wall Street of America” was filled with wealth and educated people who were proud of what they had achieved in owning their own homes and businesses. In short, “The Roaring Twenties” was a remarkable time in this country, and not just for white America.
This is the genius of historical fiction when written well. It can serve as a reminder that we all want the same thing – black, white, yellow or brown: to be treated with dignity and respect. To live out our dreams – the American Dream.
Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E3XWN82. Check it out on Goodreads where an excerpt is now available: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18275244-murder-on-second-street. Join the fan page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Murder-on-Second-Street/124154814274796) to get the latest updates and news on book signings, etc.
I am available for interviews. Please send inquiries to the email address given on this page. I wish you an enjoyable reading experience.