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About the author:
I'm a writer, drummer, researcher, actor, voiceover artist and more. I studied creative writing at UNC Chapel Hill and took Poetry for the People at UC Berkeley. I won the first Pearl Street Publishing author fellowship and a Gemini Magazine poetry contest.
What inspired you to write your book?
a certain actor I won't name
Here is a short sample from the book:
Chapter 1 Selections
I pause near the right of the back of the stage, enthralled. I drink in a sparse drumset and an exquisite drummer with long, dark hair and cinnamon skin.
The drummer twists to her left and manipulates a cymbal. She flaunts a pert C-cup breast held by tight, thin fabric. Her beauty eclipses all others in the room. My mouth waters. She turns, facing forward. She's stunning, elegant. She dabs the corners of her eyes.
The singer says, "Alright, my kings and queens, here's the last one of the night."
As the singer babbles, I appreciate the drummer's butt. This is a rear that, even seated, deserves cherishing. Hers is the perfect size and would whisper of paradise under a loose, flimsy dress so simple to pull up or rip away.
The drummer's long dreadlocks sway as she retrieves drumsticks from her right. I'd very much like to grab her locks in my hand. I'd very much like to slide down the pink bell bottoms she has on. I'd very much like to sit at her drum throne, bend her over my knee and listen to what sound she makes to match the beat of my hands smacking and caressing her ass.
I must know if she belongs to anyone else.
Am I little orphan Virginia now? Should I wear a ribbon in my hair and sing showtunes? Can a 36-year-old be an orphan? Would any other grown woman care?
No. I need to remember what I'm about outside of the slow crawl to anguish.
I want an explosion of life, of color vibrant like blood. I need rivulets, barbecued ribs, pasta noodles with silly shapes, curly mops of hair, luscious fros, and afropuffs.
She’s gone. Why not erupt, why not see, eat, free, claim and want it all?
Victor coughs and says, "Mom would've loved this limo ride. It's so smooth."
"Hmm," says Sunny in a soft voice. "She would’ve loved the cars going so slow, taking they time."
The carbon footprint of the event would’ve saddened Mom. We were planning an eco-tour to Costa Rica. I better cancel that. No, I better stop thinking about plane tickets and algal blooms. What’s wrong with me?
Oh yeah, Mom died. Quitter.
Ugh, I’m so bad. But she loves me — loved me, the baby of the family, the little drummer girl. The smarty pants who didn’t make her go to the doctor sooner when she complained of fatigue and a fever after Japan. How could I let her down? She never failed me.
My vision blurs. The procession stops. I grab Victor's hand and climb out of the back of the limo.
My siblings, dressed in black from hat to polished heel, greet people as we cross a brittle, brown lawn in the Carolina summer heat. We enter the pale blue structure. Inside the cool church, I pass tissues. I say nothing.
"Cousin Evelyn, thank you," Victor says. "Mom is looking down right now and smiling. The Lord has blessed us all to be here today to celebrate, yes, to celebrate the life of Mrs. Sarah Jean Mabe Will. Let the congregation say, 'Amen.'"
"Amen," I mouth more than say.
I know what's coming. A flutter of sharp awareness concentrates my senses and brings too much into focus, the bending grain in the wood of the floors, the smell of baby powder and the crackling of a candy wrapper behind me and to my left.
"We know Mom wanted her baby girl to lift us up at this time. Yes, we do," Victor says.
Amens hum. Tambourines rattle. Stomp-claps burst.
I must be broken. Stomps rumbling through a wooden floor usually make me smile.
This is for Mom. I can do this. I'll rock this.
"Miss Virginia, bless us with your gift," Victor says.
“Yes, child”s and an amen choir urge me up. I collect my drum, sit on a chair and close my eyes. My hands hover over a jembe I haven’t held between my thighs in years.
I strike. On the crests of the bass note, I rise. I strike again, and bounce through time. Mom speaks me through Dad’s passing, wisdom shining through her every action.
Count your blessings and move on. Count your blessings and move on.
Mom lifts my arms. She massages my heart. We groove. I hear what we play, analyzing nothing. I blend into the rhythm of breath, beat and release.
I know that’s what she wanted, and I know what I have to do now. I just don’t know how.