GALLAGHER BUSINESS BLOG INTERVIEW
The Secrets of Heavenly
- Teresa, you’ve written a book entitled “The Secrets of Heavenly” tell my readers a bit about your book.
My historical novel is set in the time period just prior to the American Civil War on a rice plantation in South Carolina. It’s a dramatic story of the relationships between three of the Plantation Master’s children and a young house slave named Willa. Of the three relationships, one blossoms into a sisterhood, another a forbidden interracial affair, and the third a dangerous and dark obsession. The book deals dramatically with the complications of family allegiance, the loss of childhood innocence, and the theme of betrayal and deception.
- The title is catchy and I sense there is a story behind it. Please share.
“Heavenly” is the name of the rice plantation in the book, but rather than being a place of peace and solace as the name implies, the plantation is shrouded in secrets that threaten to tear apart the lives of its inhabitants.
- What was your motivation in writing this book?
I have always been interested in American history. A few years ago I happened to be reading a book containing several vignettes from the lives of antebellum slaves. One story involving innocent young slave women and their babies was particularly disturbing to me. I decided then that I needed to write about slavery and include that scene, describing it in a way that would truly touch others as it did me.
- You say in your bio on Amazon “Now she hopes her voice will be heard.” Tell me about that statement. What does it mean to you?
Well, as a child I was pretty shy and insecure. Rather than express my own feelings and ideas, I kept quiet. Now, although I’ve outgrown that shyness, I still fear the judgment of others. Writing this book and putting it out there to public has been scary for me. But it’s also liberating, as if I’ve finally released the voice of the person I once was.
- The book is well written and evidences that you’ve done your homework. What drew you to write on enslavement?
Thank you, Chuck. I’ve always been drawn to the plight of people who are slighted by others and society. There are so many stories to be told about people who manage to persevere. In the case of American slavery, an entire race of people overcame and forged ahead. Although it is fiction, I feel that my book gives voice to those who came from that. Any of the incidents I’ve written about could well have happened to multiple slave and plantation families.
- What do you hope the reader will gain from your book?
It’s important that my readers experience this book in a personal way. I want them to be absolutely appalled by the emotional misery caused by slavery. I’d like them to be involved in the story, to let go and fall in love with some of the characters, rejoicing with them, hurting or crying for them. As for the villains in my book, I hope I’ve painted an ugly enough picture of their participation in mistreating slaves that my readers despise them as much as I do!
- How, by the way, did you go about selecting the ideas included in your book?
Some of the ideas and scenes in my book were inspired by accounts from surviving slaves who were interviewed during the Federal Writer’s Project in the 1930’s. I also read a variety of books about the time period, absorbing what I could about the way of life on plantations them. .
- A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of your book?
There are many non-fiction accounts that document the physical horrors of slavery-the degradation, the beatings, the murders. “The Secrets of Heavenly” deals with some of this, but focuses more on the substantial emotional toll of slavery.
Slavery is an ugly scar that our nation will always wear. Scars, being evidence of something painful, serve to remind us about some activity we should never repeat. Anyone who might think that the subject of slavery has been sufficiently covered in literature hasn’t met the characters of “Heavenly” who put fresh, memorable faces on the inglorious subject.