Monday, 8 August 2016

Q & A with Janie Dempsey Watts

Return to Taylor's Crossing
by Janie Dempsey Watts 

Summer, 1959. In a small Georgia town, dairy worker Abednego Harris, 19, not only stands out for his skillful handling of bulls, but because of his color. When Lola James, 17, arrives to do day work for a nearby family, Abednego is smitten. As the young couple falls in love, racial tensions heat up, threatening their world. A violent attack tears them apart and spins their lives in different directions. This is their story, and the story of four others whose lives are forever changed by violence. One of them will return to Taylor's Crossing seeking answers. 

Paperback, 277 pages
Published October 27th 2015 by CreateSpace

Find Return to Taylor's Crossing on Goodreads
Buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Read It & Reap:  February 12, 2017

A Chattanooga native, Janie spent much of her childhood in north Georgia at her family's farm riding horses. After high school, she left for California where she studied journalism at the University of California, Berkeley (B.S.) and at the University of Southern California, M.A.

She has written for newspapers and magazines, and for television. She also penned screenplays before turning to writing short stories and her two novels, "Moon Over Taylor's Ridge" and "Return to Taylor's Crossing" which has won several awards.

Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines, while here non-fiction stories have been published in the "Chicken Soul for the Soul" series and other anthologies.
She currently lives in North Georgia near Taylor's Ridge and her family farm. She enjoys spending time with her family, her American bulldog and three horses.

Q & A with Janie Dempsey Watts 

Tell us a little bit about your main characters. 
The story is told by six different narrators, but the two main characters are Abednego Harris, 19, and Lola James, 17, both African American. It’s 1959 in a small North Georgia town, and Abednego stands out not only for his skillful handling of bulls at the dairy farm where he works, but also for his color. He is the only African American working in Taylor’s Crossing until Lola arrives to work for a prominent family, the Buttrills.  Lovely and smart, Lola has big dreams for herself after she graduates high school—until the persistent Abednego charms her with his attentions and sense of humor. All of this is noticed by Lola’s boss, Sewell Buttrill, a racist and community leader, who grows uneasy with the shapely Lola working in his home. Other characters who play a role in this story are Abednego’s feisty younger sister, Marvelous; Iris, Marvelous’ best friend and a horse lover; and Adelaide, the always pregnant wife of Sewell Buttrill.

The story unfolds over the course of 50 years and shows how hate crimes affect the main characters over a lifetime.

Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
For Return to Taylor’s Crossing, I collaborated with a talented friend, writer Amber Lanier Nagle.  I provided the cover shot of Taylor’s Ridge, a real and historic place in North Georgia. One morning I was on the way to a book signing for my first novel when I was about to drive over the ridge and thought the view looked mysterious with so many shades of blue. I pulled over and shot the scene with my cell phone. I knew it would be perfect for my second novel, which is also a bit of a mystery. I told Amber what I was aiming for, and she sent over a few samples. She was easy to work with, and immediately got the concept of what was needed.  She is now working on the cover design for my short story collection, Lovers, Mothers, Sons, and Other Strangers. Once we come up with a cover design, I feel the book is “real,” and I am inspired to get through the final edits.

Describe your ideal writing spot.
A room with a view and some tools: an empty, lined notebook and black pen, a thesaurus and a dictionary, a fast computer with internet access, and a frosty iced tea, unsweet.  Background music, perhaps some French café tunes, would make this the ideal environment to take me to other times and places.    

What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Mama always told me, “Education is something no one can take away from you.” Taking her advice, I studied journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, for my B.A., and journalism at the University of Southern California, for my M.A. The research skills I learned have served me well in writing my novels, both of which have historical elements.  As always, Mama was right!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Horses were my passion.  For many years, I showed my horses and I planned to become a horse trainer. When I was about 13, I read Catcher in the Rye and decided I wanted to write.

Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks? 
Paperbacks. I love e-books, too, but I can’t take them in the bathtub or swimming pool.   

If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
I would choose time travel. I would love to be able to visit the area where the fictional town I use in both my novels, Taylor’s Crossing, is located. First, I’d travel to the early 1800s when the area was part of the Cherokee Nation.  I’d watch my great-great-great grandmother visiting with the Cherokee around a cauldron of stew bubbling over a fire. After that, I’d zip forward to 1959 in the same area. I’d go visit the old general store that was the heart of the community and sit in a rocking chair while I drank a cold orange Nehi. I’d visit with the old timers and find out what they liked to talk about. And after that, I’d time travel to the 1940s where I have another story brewing.   

What book are you reading now?
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio. The story is about a girl with Tourette’s Syndrome.  

1 comment:

  1. I love covers and knowing about an author's input. Glad that was one of your questions/answers and how fortunate for you that you were in the right place at the right time. :-) Sounds like a great read.
    sherry @ fundinmental