So twenty years ago I had an idea . . .
Over twenty years ago I took a graduate class in Multicultural Psychology. Through the coursework and extra reading, I began to learn about Jim Crow segregation and how it ruled the South. After the class ended I wanted to know more. I searched for books to read, both history and autobiographies. When I finished one book, I couldn’t wait to start the next.
As I read each story, pictures formed in my mind. I could see the small towns and the rural landscapes. I imagined the relationships, both good and bad. I saw moments of kindness sprinkled in with racial hatred. My heart raced when I read of fearful situations. Tales of cruelty and tragedy-filled me with sadness. I began to wish the children could step away from the bigoted world created and perpetuated by adults. What if they could erase the divide? As a result of my daydreams the main characters of Silent Ties, Missy and Addie, were born.
Telling the story from the first-person point-of-view of Missy was my only option. I could not fairly relay Addie’s feelings or point of view. I have lived a life of white privilege. I had to write about Addie as an outsider who is not allowed into her hidden world. Reading about real experiences of people such as Anne Moody, Ray Sprigle, John Howard Griffin, Clifton Taulbert, W. Ralph Eubanks, and others instilled compassion. But a true and total understanding of Addie’s feelings or the reality of her life was not possible. I could not speak for Addie. I am Missy.
Writing Silent Ties took almost twenty years. As I wrote, fear and lack of confidence ebbed into my mind. I walked away from my computer for years at a time. In 2014 I decided I had to tell their story. I spent a year finishing the manuscript. As you can imagine twenty years of writing resulted in a mammoth document. Over the next two years, with the help of several gracious beta readers, I was able to reduce the book to a manageable size.
I always thought about this story as an exercise in social consciousness. When I asked individuals to read and critique the document, I described it as a social conscience book. There is no category for that in the world of novels. I have come to call it “Historical Fiction;” however, for me it will always be the vehicle in my path that forced me to open my eyes. I still suffer from ignorance, but I am striving to understand.
Throughout those years I never told anyone about this book except my husband. I shared this great secret with my children and parents a few years ago. Even now it is difficult to tell the world, “I wrote a book.” I hope you will be kind. Most importantly, my wish is that Silent Ties inspires you to want to know more, understand more, and will lead you to work toward an evolving social conscience.