Writer interview: Rebekah L. Pierce

     Rebekah Lynn Pierce

 

Rebekah Lynn Pierce is an extraordinary woman.  Originally from California she now resides in Richmond, VA with her husband of fourteen years and her two children, aged eleven and three. But she is not just a wife and mother; she is a veteran, a former college English teacher, professional developmental editor, motivational speaker and of course author. Rebekah writes everything from books to plays and films to life workbooks. She is an intelligent woman with three degrees under her belt: an Associates, Bachelors and Masters. She has been writing and teaching for more than thirteen years and likes her work to focus on contemporary women and their search  for purpose and identity. Rebekah has also written and directed several fully-length and short plays. And as if her life is not busy enough, she even has a little home-based shop called Buffy’s Goodies where she sells delicious self-baked goods! What a woman!

And as busy as this acomplished woman is, she was kind enough to take time out to do an interview with me.

 

 

INTERVIEW

1.What are you working on right now, and can you tell us a little something about it?

I just re-released my historical fiction novel, Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders. It’s a murder mystery set in the historic African American neighborhood, Jackson Ward (referred to in History books as “The Black Wall Street of America” in the early 20th Century) in Richmond, VA, 29 days before the infamous fall of the stock market crash – October 29, 1929. It features a rare character – an African American WWI veteran named Sy Sanford. He’s been hired by the Negro businessmen and women in the community to solve the murders of working class Negro women in the Ward. So, I am knee-deep in marketing this book to historical fiction readers, book clubs, bloggers, etc. I am also working on the completion of my new mystery novel series, Sex, Lies & Shoeboxes featuring the African American female protagonist, Bobbie Vale. This work is a traditional “gum-shoe” mystery novel set in the mid- 1990s in my hometown of Stockton, CA.  2. Can you tell us a little something about it? 

My name is Rebekah Lynn Pierce, and I am a veteran, author, playwright, motivational speaker and former college English teacher. I have three degrees: an Associates, Bachelors and Masters. I’ve been married for 14 years and have two children: 11 and 3 (don’t ask!); we live in Richmond, VA, but I am originally from California. I love to read mysteries, the classics and other great works of fiction. Writing is a HUGE part of my life; it’s my greatest gift. I am a storyteller across genres meaning I write novels, plays, films, short stories, etc. It’s important to me that no matter what I write, it empowers and inspires the reader in some way to be the best they can be and to live their life on purpose. I believe that we all have a purpose and a calling on our lives; we just have to accept what that is and not compare it to others – not try to live someone else’s dreams. 

2.Tell us, why do you write? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

 I write because it’s what I’ve been called to do; it’s my gift. Writing for me is like breathing. I cannot live without out it – it’s an extension of who I am. I draw my inspiration from the world around me. I call myself a socially conscious writer in that I write about issues that affect the lives of women and children, especially in my dramas and in my nonfiction work. I released a life workbook a few months ago for modern working women called Kryptonite Killed Superwoman: Turning in the Cape for an Authentic, Purpose-Driven Life. It speaks to the pull modern women feel to be everything to everyone, and how in doing so, we are dying physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially. I am NOT Superwoman. Claiming so means I have no time to stop, regroup/reflect/embrace the present moment and take care of myself. Women today must remove the cape. 

With regards to my novels, there is always a deep element of pain and joy in my characters. They are real in that people can identify with some aspect of that character’s persona or life events. I am an observer-participant, meaning I am inspired by what I observe happening in my surroundings and I participate in it by writing about it. I used to tell my students that it’s called “entering the conversation.” Whenever you write a response to what is happening in the world, you are entering that particular conversation about that topic. And that’s what I feel writers/artists ultimately are created to do. 

 

3. When I write, I require Jaffa cakes (and lots of them), do you have a writing must-have? 

No, I really do not require a must-have, although I am a little old fashioned in that I write by hand first on notepads and such. There’s something about the feel of the transfer of energy from hand to paper. It invigorates me and, in some strange way, it keeps me connected to my muse. I am, after all, just a conduit for the muse and the message it wishes to deliver to the readers.

 

4.What is your favourite book?

I have a lot of favorite books. For the classics, it would be Native Son, by Richard Wright. The depth of the writing style and energy in that story is so profound and haunting.  Llove to teach this novel because it is a clear example of the change from a social inattention and fear of change to social responsibility and accountability. We are our brother’s keeper, essentially. For current contemporary literature, I so loved Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. The novel chronicles the lives of four slave women – mistresses to their masters. One summer changes their lives when they have to decide between escaping North to freedom or staying behind to protect their children and, for one, stay with her master, whom she loves. He is all she has ever known. It is powerful reading! I love how Perkins shows you the dichotomy of the lives of these four slave women and the wives of their masters. These women were all pitted against one another for the protection and safety of a man, and that is ultimately the story of slave women and white women of that era. But in terms of mystery/suspense novels, it’s Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None, Alexander McCall Smiths’ “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series and the “Stephanie Plum” series by Janet Evanovich. Did I mention Ernest J. Gaines’, A Lesson Before Dying? Oh, my! You should have never asked me this question. Don’t get me started on plays, either!

5.Which author’s career, alive or passed on, do you admire the most, and why?

I think I’ve mentioned most above. But again, I am a huge fan of and grew up reading Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys, Harlequin Romances and Louie Lamar westerns. Now, I am deeply influenced in terms of narration and POV by Alexander McCall Smith’s “No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series. With regards to humor and gum shoe detective stories, I absolutely love the style of Janet Evanovich. And for classic mystery/detective, it has to be Walter Mosley’s “Easy Rawlins” series. Of course, for the classics, the period I most identify with and generally love to teach/read, it’s the modernist period. Some of those authors are Hemingway, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, John Steinbeck, etc. The use of imagery and language is powerful as well as the themes of their words: social justice, the loss of faith, redemption, and more. 

 

6.Tell us something about yourself…an annoying habit or party trick perhaps? Can you speak a foreign language or have a hobby?

Well, I do not speak a foreign language, per se. I can speak a little bit of French, but not enough to make it on the streets of Paris, France. I am a baker. I have a little home-based shop called Buffy’s Goodies (www.buffysgoodies.yolasite.com). My specialty is red velvet and dark fudge chocolate chip cupcakes; I make a MEAN sweet potato and apple pie. And, honey, my chocolate chip cookies will put you in rehab. J On a serious note, I am also a professional developmental editor.

7.Do you have a blog, website or social networking account people can go to if they wish to learn more about you or your work?

Oh my goodness! Absolutely! I am on the following social media sites:

Website: www.rebekahpierce.synthasite.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorrebekahlynnpierce (author page) and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Murder-on-Second-Street/124154814274796 (Murder on Second Street book page)

Twitter: www.twitter.com/rebekahpierce

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7191171.Rebekah_L_Pierce  About.me: http://about.me/rebekah.l.pierce 

WordPress Blog: http://www.rebekahpierce.wordpress.com 

Amazon.com: Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E3XWN82 

8.And now, for the most important question of all: Jaffa cakes – love them or hate them?

What in the name of sweet baby Jesus is Jaffa cakes? I love cake, though. Can I get the recipe? Did I tell you I’m a baker?

 

I’d like to say a big thank you to Rebekah for such a fantastic interview and for taking the time from her busy day to do this lovely addition to my blog.Image

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Writer Interview: Evelyn Stewart

                                                     Evelyn Stewart

 

One afternoon a young woman walks past a fundraiser being held by a woman’s church group to help raise money to pay for the printing of a book that is aimed at women who are victims of domestic and emotional abuse. The young woman is a nervous individual and unfortunately its plain to see  –  a victim of abuse. She has only $3 in her pocket and had yet to buy groceries. As she is about to walk away from the stall empty-handed, a woman approaches her and seeing the signs of abuse upon this poor woman, gives her a copy of the book for free, which she clutches to her chest like a lifeline as she walks away.

The kind-hearted woman who gave her the copy of the book was none other than the author herself – Evelyn Stewart. A woman who was once told she didn’t have enough education to write a book. Clearly they did not know what a remarkable young girl they had before them. For Evelyn Stewart as had an extradonairy and sometimes sad and difficult life, and yet has come through the other side as an extremley strong, independent and incredibly beautiful person who at the age of eighty-six now devotes much of her time using past experiences and heartache to help women escape abusive situations and start a new life for themselves.

 

 

 

1.      What are you working on right now?

 At this time I am doing short stories for FanStory, which is an International Writer’s site. I felt so honored this morning when I saw I was in 2nd place out of 697 short stories writers. There’s times I feel like I need to pinch myself to be sure it’s real because I’ve always been told I didn’t have enough education to write a book. I am eighty-six years old and haven’t been to school for seventy years.

 

 

2.      Can you tell us a little something about it?

Currently I’m writing stories about my childhood. It was the happiest time of my life even though things were really hard during the Depression years. I’m the youngest of twelve children. I was raised by loving, Christian parents. It was at a time when the slaves were freed. Many of them came to my great-grandfather and grandfather for shelter and protection. These people became our family of color. So, I have many unique and fun stories to share with my readers. There are stories also about my African American Nanny.

The other short stories are segments taken from my book, Behind Closed Doors. That way if anyone doesn’t have the money to buy my book I can still share enough to hopefully help spare others from suffering the kind of pain I did due to abuse.

 

 

3. Why do you write? Where do you get your inspiration?

I write because I know it is something God has called me to do. He is my inspiration. I so desire to help others avoid the nightmare I lived through. I’m very concerned about our young people today. Abuse is on the increase. We’ve nearly overdosed them with sex education but we are failing to train them to evaluate the behavior of the person they are dating. Are they obsessed with me? Do they try to keep me separated and isolated from my family and friends? Do they have to know where I am every minute? They need to ask the hard question: “Am I dating/marrying a potential abuser?” It took me ten years to write this book and I shed a river of tears. But if just one person is spared the kind of life I lived it will be worth every tear I shed and all the time it took. I was told I could never write a book. My formal education ended with the 7th grade, so really I’m what I’d call self-educated. God has taken what Satan meant to destroy me with and now God can use my suffering and sorrow to help set others free. To me, that’s getting good out of what Satan meant for bad.

 

 

4. When I write I require Jaffa cakes (and lots of them), do you have a writing must have?

I’m sorry i don’t know what a Jaffa cake is but it sounds like it might taste mighty fine. I don’t think I really have a writing must. I like keeping little cans of Beanie Weinee’s and peanut butter and crackers in the little packages so I don’t have to stop writing to go fix something to eat. My biggest thing is spending some quiet time with God and before I know it He has given me the words to share. All of my writing is based on truth, nothing but the truth.

 

 

5. What is your favorite book?

Truthfully I’d have to say the Bible. Back when I was young there really wasn’t any other book to be had. My mother was an awesome story teller. She read us the story of Daniel and the Lions Den, Moses and the Parting of the Red Sea, Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors. Every night after supper and the dishes were done we would all head for the living room. Mother had her a little podiem. She’d read us a Bible story or a Scripture that gave instructions as to proper behavior. She always seemed to know which one to read that dealt with the misbehavior that had occurred during the day. I would often see my brothers squirming in their chair. Yes, sometimes I squirmed too. They used the Word of God as a means of correcting our misbehavior. We were never beaten. We were taught that God loved us and we had to obey His rules just like we had to obey their rules. Then, Mother would tell us her “funny” stories. She would send us all off to bed laughing.

 

 

6. Which author’s career, alive or passed on, do you admire the most and why?

John Steinbeck stands out foremost in my mind as an admired author, and such books as Grapes of Wrath and The Color Purple. The truth needs to be told and they told the truth about a very sad time in history. I was so privileged to receive a review from Alan Wilkerson, President of Ozark Business Weekly. I would like to share his review.

“This is a period piece, a historical reference, a lifetime saga roled into one riveting book. The word spellbinding is appropriate because you are drawn in and can’t put the book down. The characters come to life and scare you even when you know they are not present, but most of all, and unfortunately for this family, it is a true story. The “Grapes of Wrath meets “Disclosure and Roots all come to mind as partial comparisons. This will make an awesome movie someday.”

You have to remember I am an eighty-six year old woman with a seventh grade education. This kind of review brought tears to my eyes and I rejoiced for I knew God had helped me get my story down in a way that it would change other peoples lives.

 

 

7. Tell us something about yourself…an annoying habit or party trick perhaps? Can you speak a foreign language or have a hobby?

I was born in Shulerville, South Carolina. I am the youngest of twelve children. I was raised by loving, Christian parents. Things were hard during the Depression but Dad taught us to work hard, and even enjoy the work we were doing. Our community was made up of my mother’s family, my father’s family, and our family of color. At thirteen there really wasn’t anyone for me to consider dating, as everyone was family. My older brother worked in Charleston, South Caolina, fifty miles from our home. At thirteen I was put on a train and sent to Charleston to get a room and go to work in the cigar factory. There I would be able to meet a young man that I could marry. My older brother had lost one of his hands in an accident. So, he was a trained electrical welder and worked at the navy yard since he couldn’t be sent into battle during WWII. He worked every hour his body could handle, therefore, he wasn’t free to check on me too often. I was really self-sufficient and did well until he introduced me to his co-worker. I wasn’t prepared for the type of person Larry was. It was never sexual. It was all about control and obsession. I never had time for partying. I worked sixteen hours a day, six and often seven days a week until I married. Then I devoted myself to raising three wonderful children. I spent much of my time protecting them from their abusive father. Every minute I wasn’t working was spent with my children. Now, they make sure that I don’t need anything.

I only speak English. I’m not much into tricks but I do like to tease as long as it’s not something that can hurt someone’s feelings. At eighty-six you might say reading reviews on my stories from FanStory might be considered a hobby. It does bring me much happiness to know I am touching others hearts.

 

 

8. Do you have a blog, website or social networking account people can go to if they wish to learn more about you and your work?

I am on Facebook. Just ask to be friends with Evelyn F Stewart and I’ll be ready and waiting. I share many of my short stories on Facebook so others can read them. I do have a webpage that is being worked on www.evesdvhelp.org (Eves domestic violence help). This site is         ” under construction” and should be updated soon. My email is: stewartevelynf@yahoo.com.

 

9. And now, for the most important question of all: Jaffa cakes – love them or hate them?

Darling, I don’t even know what a jaffa cake is. Sorry J Obviously you like them. I would like to know what they are though.

 

TPW: I hope you enjoyed reading this interview. Evelyn Stewart has been one of the most amazing and interesting authors I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing and I encourage all of you to support the fantastic work this brilliant woman is doing. To follow Evelyn and her work, or to help support her cause please find the necessary links below.

 

Facebook:  Evelyn F Stewart

www.evesdvhelp.org

 

I would like to say a big thank you to Evelyn’s friend, Janie King, for helping us do the interview!

 

TPW