Pride and Prejudice. The Good Earth. The Chosen. 1984. A Raisin in the Sun.
These are some of the works of fiction I read in a high school for fun. That’s right, I read them for fun. Okay, don’t judge. I lived in a small rural southern town.
I didn’t grow up surrounded by books or lovers of books. I don’t remember being read to either. I do remember being taken to the library and then there was the book mobile, an RV loaded with books from the public library that came to our lonely country road deep in the swamp.
As a child, I read because there was little else to do. Truth be told, I liked reading. And reading led to writing. Nowadays I read far less than I did as a kid (I do have a day job, you know) but I still read the same kinds of work. Eclectic is the best word that describes my book diet.
My writing grows out of what I like to read now and what I grew up reading. I don’t write what you would expect a black girl from the backwoods of North Carolina to write. I’m not writing this post to apologize for that. I’m writing to explain why I break tradition.
My break from the traditional ‘books for black folks’ mold has cost me followers—and book sales. On one hand, this has been frustrating and disheartening. But on the other hand, I know deep down I have to be true to my writer’s heart.
I can’t write any other way.