Fun Reading Stimulates Insightful Q&A
Lots of fun last week with a well-attended reading and book signing of my novel, The Lies That Bind, at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where I teach adjunct. The Q&A discussion afterwards was lively and far-ranging, with many historical and other insights from the audience, few of whom had yet read the book. The myths surrounding slavery (which my novel attempts to debunk), gender in the antebellum South, the Civil War — so many great discussion threads were followed. I was even invited to speak to the English department's Civil War literature class. I loved every minute of it. The conversation could have gone on for hours.
The reading was sponsored by the gender studies department and coordinated by the English department. As a nod to gender studies, I began the reading with excerpts from Chapter 2, where we first encounter the reclusive Missus Marie Brussard French, and her strange son, Devereau. A volatile scene, indeed!
Special thanks to Lynn Staley of English, who initiated the reading and worked so hard to put everything together — even cake! Kudos, too, to the folks at the UMSL bookstore. The student “womaning” the sales got so involved in the discussion that she bought a copy of the book for herself!
An educator I spoke with recently thought The Lies That Bind should be taught in schools. Frankly, I always believed that myself. It would be an innovative way for twenty-first century students to get a sense of what it might have been like to live in a nineteenth-century slave society (or any society based on lies). The book also could serve to illustrate how no one can escape the tsunami of war, but rather how we are sometimes swept by folly into doomed blunders. Vietnam, Iraq II are very strong parallels.
Honor Among Outcasts Discussion
I also touched a bit on the second novel in the DarkHorse Trilogy, Honor Among Outcasts, which I am working on now. Most of the main characters from The Lies That Bind appear prominently in Honor, plus some minor characters rise to the top and become very important. I can’t wait to see readers’ reactions to the surprises, although the book can be read independently. For research, I’ve found Guerrillas in Civil War Missouri, by James W. Erwin, enlightening.
Again, thanks for all the kind words and interesting feedback.
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