Hello, Karen, and welcome to Divine Caroline. Please introduce yourself to the readers here.
Thanks so much for inviting me. It’ s a real privilege to be here. I would describe myself as a quilter who surrendered to my passion for writing and became an author. Although, I can say that writing a novel is a lot like quilting in that I stitch thousands of words together to create an intricate pattern of theme, plot and characterization and then layer all the pages, to produce what I hope will be an interesting and powerful story. I taught African American quilting for over twenty years before I gave that up to start seriously writing.
I received my bachelor’ s degree in Animal Husbandry, M.A. in Foreign Language and International Trade and M.S. in Historic Preservation from Eastern Michigan University. As a historic preservationist trained in heritage interpretation and administration, I have designed exhibits for museums and historical institutions that deal with issues of cultural diversity and racial reconciliation. Additional things about me, I am a foodie and own way too many cookbooks, I also love animals, especially horses and dogs.
You’ re currently on an online tour to promote your book, Act of Grace. Tell us about your book.
Act of Grace is the story of Grace Johnson an African American high school senior who saves the life of a Klansman named Jonathan Gilmore. Everyone in her hometown of Vigilant, Michigan wants to know why. Few people, black or white, understand her act of sacrifice especially since rumor holds that years ago a member of the Gilmore family murdered several African -Americans including Grace’ s father. Grace wants to remain silent on the matter but Ancestors spirits emerge in visions and insist she bear witness to her town’ s violent racial history so that all involved might transcend it.
Grace begins a journal, but she warns readers upfront that if they are looking for a simple or rational explanation for her actions then they need to look elsewhere. She knows that her accounts of her ability to speak to the dead, along with her connections to a trickster spirit name Oba, will be hard for most people to believe. With insight shaped by the wisdom found in African American mythology and the book, The Velveteen Rabbit, Grace recounts a story of eye-for-an-eye vengeance that has blinded entire generations in her hometown
What inspired you to write Act of Grace? Where did the initial idea come from?
Act of Grace is loosely based on an incident that happened several years ago in my hometown during a Klan rally. When what was supposed to be a nonviolent protest became violent, a young black woman saved a white man, (who was simply wearing a confederate flag T-shirt), from being beaten by throwing her body over him. She got involved because she believed he had the right to his beliefs even if she and others felt he was wrong. For weeks after the event people argued about whether she was a guardian angel or just crazy. My opinion was that she was a compassionate and brave person, worthy of admiration and respect for living up to her values. Five years after this rally I had a very vivid dream about a young woman named Grace and during the dream she yelled out what is more or less the first line of the novel.
Act of Grace deals with a lot of hard issues, not the least of which is revenge. What kind of research did you do to bring life to this story?
My novel comes out of my lifelong interest in how some people are able to forgive what seem to be unforgivable acts and deeds. I am also interested in the subjects of altruism and justice. Especially justice, because while I believe it is my duty as an artist and writer to illuminating injustice, I also believe it is my duty to acknowledge how complicated and sometime messy getting true justice is.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Act of Grace?
I write speculative fiction or contemporary fantasy, in part, because it offers innovative avenues for looking at the world’ s problems. It is my hope that my novel Act of Grace leaves readers thinking about justice, community, tolerance, love, family, and struggle and healing in new and different ways. I also hope my novel will enable readers to have more honest and hope filled conversations about these universal issues.
Where can people find you on the internet?
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/klsimpson
Blog : http://lafreya.blogspot.com/
Is there anything you would like to add?
I would just like to say thank you so much for hosting me on your site. I truly appreciate the opportunity.
Thank you so much for your time. I wish you the best of success.