“I can be changed by what happens to me. I refuse to be reduced by it.”
Maya Angelou ~
Today I have Rebekah Lynn Pierce, author, playwright and English Professor in my Chat Chair. If you are not familiar with her work,please click on the book covers below; they are Amazon linked. So grab a seat and relax while we learn more about Ms. Pierce!
It’s 1929 and a local negro neighborhood called Jackson Ward in Richmond, Virginia is booming. In fact, it’s called “The Black Wall Street of America” by economists of the day. Things are booming for the negro community, but then a series of what appears to be random murders begin to happen and everyone is on edge, especially the negro business owners. They hire haunted World War I veteran and alcoholic Sy Sanford to catch the cold-blooded murderer, but murder is not the only thing threatening to destroy “The Black Wall Street of America.” The real Wall Street is about to come tumbling down and turn Jackson Ward and its infamous 2nd Street into a darkness they may never recover from.
Book trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsHv-2D3y2I&feature=youtu.be
Sex, Lies & Shoeboxes! (Now in edits and will be available Oct/Nov)
When private investigator and recovering alcoholic Bobbie Vale is hired to find Carmen Vasquez, the missing bride to be of Alberto DeLaRosa Lopez, mob boss wanna be, her search digs up more than she ever expected. Lopez has a dirty little secret that will blow the roof off the macho mystique of the mob and Carmen is only too willing to sell the secret to the highest bidder in order to save her life and destroy Bobbie’s. So, with the help of her sexy secretary, part-time body guard, Eddie Dillon, Bobbie must battle the demons of her dark past, dig through deadly lies and shameful secrets, and a closet full of shoeboxes to save her future and solve this case before all hell breaks loose in the small town of Stockton, California.
A writer who dares to challenge our sensitivities by touching on subjects ranging from prostitution and miscegenation, to spiritual miracles and facing one’s sexual identity, Rebekah Pierce is a fiery force on today’s literary scene who forces us “to check ourselves” with the prejudices, judgments and egos we possess. On The Cusp Of Humanity is a fitting title for a series of six award-winning plays that are Polaroids of the human condition. Sam & Roger will leave an audience incredulous at the lack of compassion in our society today. The story forces ethical questions that will not be easily answered about gender and love. That Woman’s Child tackles the misunderstood concept of forgiveness, making it clear why we need to forgive the pain from our past. Sarah’s Blood is a heart-wrenching story about the bravery of a young girl, who will face the brutality of her abuser to protect her sister’s innocence. Coffee Break (a love story) takes us on a journey back in time to a lost love over a cup of coffee. The Briefcase challenges the mythical American Dream, showing its emptiness; but then replaces it with a hope beyond the limitations of money. Finally, the sci-fi/fantasy inspired Lulu’s Dance asks the viewer/reader to suspend reality as they are given a look into the dark mind of a time traveler who’s been waiting for Him.
Well let’s get into the interview!
1. Who is Rebekah L. Pierce? What are your passions outside of writing?
Rebekah L. Pierce is a socially conscious writer whose work focuses on empowering women live a life on purpose. I am also an advocate for women and children being a mother myself as well as a former English teacher. I am also an entrepreneur having successfully published a motivational magazine for women called Average Girl Magazine 2003-2010. I was inspired to create the publication after the murder of my cousin at the hands of her abuser. Outside of writing, my passions are reading and public speaking. I love to encourage people to walk into their purpose and fulfill their dreams, whatever that may be. I also enjoy traveling, going to the theatre and spending time with my family and friends.
2. Where are you from?
I am originally from Stockton, CA. I came to Virginia by way of the U.S. Air Force in 1994. I have lived here since then, having married and raising two children.
3. Tell me about life growing up. How does it affect your writing?
Life while growing up as a pre-teen and teen was difficult. My father left our family when I was 12; I say he took his education and money with him. Before leaving, we lived in nice suburban neighborhoods and went to great schools. After he left my mother, we were homeless and went to what was considered the worst schools on the southside of Stockton. But that experience shaped me tremendously because it made me see the value of an education and the strength of a mother. I may have gone to a “bad” high school, but I had teachers who encouraged and inspired me to be great. I never would have gone to college without their love and support, especially when it came to my writings. So, I’ve always wanted to be a writer – knew I would be one – because throughout the stresses of moving around from place to place, seeing my two brothers go to jail for selling drugs and being in gangs (the Crips), I wrote my feelings in a journal. I began to create short stories and I kept my nose in books like Agatha Christie, Louie Lamar and Harlequin Romance. Reading took me away from fear, pain and doubt.
4. When did you know you were a writer?
As I said above, I knew I was a writer probably from day one because I have had books in my life for as long as I can remember. I was always reading and creating stories. My favorite stories, though, to create were mysteries. In fact, in the 8th grade, I wrote my first mystery book, Fast Times at Coolmont High (yes, a parody of sorts of the film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) I won first place in the book fair for that book. I also knew I was going to be a writer when I started writing love letters for my friends in high school. 🙂 I was good at that. Then, my senior year in high school, I wrote the final class play and we won a competition because of it. So, writing has been an extension of me my whole life. I went to college to be an English teacher because I loved to read and write. And I became that teacher.
5. What genre do you write?
I write in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre. I have two series I am working on: Murder on Second Street and Sex, Lies & Shoeboxes. The former features a WWI black male protagonist set in historic Jackson Ward in Richmond, VA in October 1929. The latter features a female investigator in my hometown of Stockton, CA during the mid-1990s. I love this genre because I am attracted to the psychology of the people: what makes them operate/their intentions and therefore their actions. Mysteries allow one to fully use their powers of analytical thinking, critical thinking and imagination. I love that! Plus, I grew up reading Agatha Christie and now love the works of Alexander McCall Smith and Janet Evanovich.
6. What motivates you to write?
What motivates me to write is my muse; I have to tell the story, no matter how ugly or painful it may be. For example, in both of my novel series, the protagonists are troubled individuals. Both suffer from PTSD as a result of horrific things done to them or experienced in their past such as abuse, murder, etc. So, writing about the frailties of humanity and demonstrating strength of dignity even in the moment of despair – that hope is always there – motivates me. I do the same for my plays. I don’t do happy endings because life is not over for these characters or for us. We do not know the ending yet. But I also do that because it’s probably who I am as a teacher. I am always s teaching, and so I want to readers to walk away affected by what they have read/seen to the point where they begin to evaluate their own lives in relation to what has been witnessed, and hopefully, come out the wiser and more connected for it.
7. How much of what you write is based on personal experiences?
For my novels, not much. I do use a lot of historical context, though. It’s because you cannot write great literature without connecting it to history in some way. Nothing new is ever written under the sun, they say, and that is correct, I find. But I am so inspired by the successes and failures of social and political movements in America’s past and present that have shaped who we are as a people, a county and as individuals. As for my plays, yes, some of it is at least in terms of the emotional triggers/reactions behind events. I have never experienced being molested, for example, but I know what it’s like to be betrayed by your father: to want to be loved by him and it not happen. The anger you feel at being abandoned is real. Also, I know what it’s like to be a working mother with big dreams that society says I have to put on hold because I am a “mother.” I don’t believe that’s fair or just. Everyone has a purpose, and bearing children is not my only purpose. You cannot teach your children to dream if they do not see it being practiced.
8. What is your research process when preparing a book?
I do a lot of research especially when I am connecting the piece to history or a social phenomenon like gender and sexuality. As I said, I am a former English teacher, so I always research via primary and secondary sources information I need to get the plot, setting or character development correct for the story I have been chosen to tell. So, I research before I write, while I write and after I am done with the first, second and even third draft. I also give it to my readers who happen to be fellow teachers – History & English – or for my plays, directors, dramaturgs, playwrights, actors, etc. I never want to purposely offend anyone, so I make sure to get the historical context right.
9. What genre do you read? What authors do you admire?
As I said before, I love mystery/suspense novels, so I am a huge fan of Alexander McCall Smith and Janet Evanovich. I also am a lover of the literary greats: Hemingway, Twain, Wright, Gatsby, Frost and Hansberry. I love their sense of honesty and truth telling. Their characters are always so rich, and flawed, but capable of forgiveness, forgiving. And imagery! I love how they all use imagery – so colorful and rich – and the dialogue of real people. That is so important to me as a writer – to present realistic dialogue. It must not sound as if it were written. It must sound like the neighbor or auntie or you.
10. What advice would you give others about writing & in general?
Storytelling is a gift. Stay true to your storytelling. If the character cusses like a sailor, don’t try to change them because you are afraid that people will say something to you. Don’t change an aspect of a character because people are “offended.” If that is what the character is, then that is what they are. Be open to telling a story – not just one kind of story. Meaning, whatever you are inspired to write – what the muse gives you to tell – tell it. Do your research on the subject and the genre, and get to writing. Study the art of writing; it is a gift yes, but also a craft that needs constant honing of the skills. I am a novelist and a playwright as well as an academic writer (I have published essays/papers in academic journals). Also, don’t be so sensitive that when your reviewers/editor tells you something doesn’t make sense that you will not go back in and look at it. If the reader is confused, then you have not done your job as a writer. Know who your audience is and write to them. I think Shakespeare’s Polonius from Hamlet said it best: “To thine own self be true.”
11. What would you like people to know that they might not know already?
I’d like people to know that a true artist does not create for the sake of money, but because writing is like air to them. They cannot breathe without it. If you want to be a writer, don’t do it because you think you’ll make millions because you won’t. You do it because, well, you cannot move to do anything else. Everyone has a story, but it does not always have to be made public and even more so, told for profit. Finally, don’t let anyone put you in a box. In other words, I do not only write about this or that because I am this or that. I am a storyteller, and whatever the muse gives me to write – whatever I am inspired to tell – I should be allowed to freely do so and m y skin color or sex or class not hinder its emergence into the universe of readers – be it 1 or 2 people. It’s not about me; it’s about the message that must be delivered.
12. What are you working on and when can we expect a release?
I am currently working on the final edits for book 2 of Sex, Lies & Shoeboxes (to be released Jan 2014) as well as book two of Murder on Second Street (shooting for a Jan 2014 release date as well. I have a few plays in the works as well appearing in various Off Broadway festivals throughout New York and D.C. So, I am grateful that I am given these stories to tell – that I have been chosen as the conduit through which to deliver the message
I can’t wait until the sequels are complete as well as the plays in the works! Thanks so much for dropping by and helping us to get to know you a bit! It has been an honor to have you in my Chat Chair! Please continue to follow Rebekah on Twitter, on her Facebook, & Amazon pages. She also accepts emails at: email@example.com