Almost a decade ago a character came into my mind—a little 9 year-old African-American girl from Georgia—Macey May Johnson. She refused to leave, so I sat down at my computer and wrote the first chapter of Threshing of Straw, and then unsure as to where the story was headed, I put it away and left it there, for years.
Macey May was never far from my thoughts though. She played in the recesses, asserting herself and asking me when I was going to finish her story. It was a few years later that the rest of the novel came to me. The characters. The lives I felt I needed to write, the relationships I wanted to explore.
I am aware of the position this novel places me. I am not African-American, nor am I from the South. I am a New Englander transplanted as of late to the Mid-West. Some will argue that I have no right to pen a story from the POV of a skin that does not match mine or from a place that I have no roots. Some will argue that the job of a writer is to step into spaces outside our own and see through other lenses.
This story is about a family, the secrets they keep from each other, and the way they reconcile their past in order to live in the present and have a future. If readers come away connecting with the characters’ brokenness and hope, then I have done what I set out to do. If readers find themselves propelled into the larger discussion regarding cultural appropriation in literature, then I have done much more than I thought possible.