Welcome, Jacqueline. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Although I try not to write myself into my characters overmuch, inevitably bits of my personality, philosophy of life, and values end up either spoken by a character or as a part of his or her actions. I think I probably write much more of what I aspire to be into my characters than what I truly am.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
That’s a hard one for me. I did a mind search and concluded that probably the quirkiest thing I have ever done is never to have done anything quirky enough to mention! However, I suppose the antics I go through to entertain my four-year-old granddaughter might qualify as a distant cousin to quirkiness.
And that is fun, isn’t it? When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I was brought up in the country and mostly got to see leisure books when the bookmobile came around every six weeks or so. Although at six years old I had no concept of what a writer does, I think the sheer joy of holding a shiny, large, colorful book to my chest spoke to the future writer in me. It was not until I majored in English/literature that I knew I someday wanted to craft a book of my own.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Now that I have published novels, I’m afraid my reading range is quite limited. Other than the Scriptures, I mostly read historical fiction which is what I write. My preference is a longer book that allows me to live with the characters a few days and savor the experience of having gotten to know them.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I pray a lot and try to pace myself, understanding that the choices of what is available far outstrip my ability and capacity to embrace them. Simply put, I prioritize—all the time.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Mostly they just “materialize” in my head, and I know instantly the name that fits the personality I’m trying to develop. Now and again, I have to rethink names, especially if they sound too much like someone I know (or know of) or if I find I have too many characters with the same initials.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I think I am most proud of the opportunity I was given to design and teach an honors world literature course for advanced-level college students. I was able to choose classic works and teach them to the most receptive students of my teaching career from whom I am sure I gleaned much more than they could ever learn from me.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
My animal of choice would be a bird. I love how, at a moment’s decision, they have the ability to soar and simply leave it all behind.
What is your favorite food?
Shrimp dishes in their myriad variations are my most popular choices. I’ve never seen a shrimp I didn’t like.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest roadblock in writing has always been plotting. I have little or no problem with theme and characterization, but the details that drive the aforementioned present a challenge for me. It forces me to corral my thinking in an organized way so that the use of words that I so love will, hopefully, engage the reader through action.
Tell us about the featured book.
In Pursuit of an Emerald is a sequel to my debut novel, A Most Precious Gift. I confess to having villainized the character, Violette, in the first book, but I always felt she was worth redemption. Now she is the main character in Emerald. Violette is an ex-slave single mom living at the onset of Reconstruction, but ever in remembrance of what she has done and the people she has hurt to protect her daughter, Emerald, she remains a slave to her sordid past until she reconnects with Benjamin Catlett who has a devastating secret of his own. It takes the grace of God and a number of other mistakes before healing occurs for this couple and they find each other in love.
Please give us the first page of the book.
November 1, 1869, Riverwood Plantation
Natchez, Mississippi, Monday night
Violette McMillan pressed her back into the wall space just above the floor, the familiar pain twisting up her spine like a hostile whirlwind. There had never been so much as a bench to sit on in this cold, small space. Neither had there been a man to share it with if that coveted resting place had ever existed. She hunched forward. Rubbed the sides of her arms to fight the chill. Eyed the span of the tumbledown room.
What I wouldn’t give for just one padded chair.
But as for that species called men, she planned never to entangle herself with them again.
Seated on the splintery planks, Violette resumed her evening ritual of reading—tonight racing against time to finish the last few pages of a chapter of Uncle Tom’s Cabin before the wick of the lamp licked up the last bit of oil. Her lips moved in step with Augustine St. Clare’s monologue as she nodded to the brutal truth of the character’s words . . .
“If I was to say anything on this slavery matter, I would say out, fair and square, ‘we’ve got ’em, and mean to keep ’em,—it’s for our convenience and our interest—’”
Oh, no. Not the lamplight.
Violette pushed her face closer to the page. Squinted as she watched St. Clare’s words become one with the blackness. She grasped the lamp’s tiny metal knob. Advanced the wick.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Jacquelinefwheelock.com (website); @JFWheelock (twitter); Jacqueline Freeman Wheelock, Author (Facebook)
Thank you Jacqueline, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me. I’m eager to read it.
Readers, here are links to the book.In Pursuit of an Emerald - Paperback
In Pursuit of an Emerald - Kindle
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