Welcome! Pull up a seat and enjoy a chat with Today’s Tease Rebekah L. Pierce
Your Name or Pen Name you use: Rebekah L. Pierce
Title of the book you are promoting: Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders
Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Romance
Welcome RLP:..I, LH have some questions for you ;
LH: I wanted to be a ballerina, race car driver and a private detective when I was little. What did you want to be when you grew up?
RLP: A writer. I have always wanted to be a writer. I used to get into so much trouble as a kid for always having my nose in a book. I’d get lost in the world of the stories I read. I loved to read, and I so wanted to put to paper the stories that came to mind when I’d read those lovely books. It has also saved my life literally and metaphorically. When I was 12, my father left the family and I went through a very dark period. I couldn’t express how I was feeling except on paper. So, journaling kept me going. And now, I am a writer. I am also an English teacher, teaching others how to write. It’s my purpose.
LH: I didn’t really have a literary influence, I just decided one day to start writing. Who influenced you in your writing career?
RLP: Okay, this is a loaded question for an English! I’ll try to be brief. I am a huge fan of and grew up reading Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys, Harlequin Romances and Louie Lamar westerns. I am deeply influenced in terms of narration and POV by Alexander McCall Smith’s “No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series. With regards to humor and gum shoe detective stories, I absolutely love the style of Janet Evanovich. And for classic mystery/detective, it has to be Walter Mosley’s “Easy Rawlins” series. Of course, for the classics, the period I most identify with and generally love to teach/read, it’s the modernist period in America. Some of those authors are Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, John Steinbeck, etc. The use of imagery and language is powerful as well as the themes of their words: social justice, the loss of faith, redemption, and more. The mother-daughter duo of Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft have had a huge impact on my work and my advocacy for women and children and for the portrayal of the frailty of humanity. For theatre, William Shakespeare, of course, Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun), Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman and The Crucible) and Aristophanes (Lysistrata).
LH: I self published all of my books and was then “discovered” by a publisher. Are you an Indie or published author?
RLP: I am an indie published author with aspirations of becoming a “traditional” published author. But if that does not happen, life is still good. There’s always a way to make your dreams come true.
LH: This is easy for me…I’d invite Johnny Depp and I would not discuss movies! Who would you invite to dinner, living or dead, and what one topic would you NOT discuss with them?
RLP: Langston Hughes and I would discuss EVERYTHING with him except food. I want to hear from him personally his philosophy on culture, jazz, the responsibility of literature and art to the community and what it was like to travel the world on a boat. I want to know what and who truly inspired him to pick up the pen. I think that would be an awesome conversation.
LH: I personally think that there is way too much sex and violence everywhere in society these days and it’s everywhere but that Hollywood is one of the biggest contributors. Do you think that society as a whole is subjected to too much sex and violence and are you concerned about it? Ever feel conflicted and if so, why?
RLP: Yes, I do, and yes, I am. As a teacher and parent, I am very concerned about what is being marketed as “family TV” when it is darn near close to pornography. I know our children need to learn about sex, but at the age of 5? I don’t think so. But because sex is viewed and portrayed as easy and no big deal, we now find ourselves having children having children. So, we must teach sex education early. My son’s school sent the letter of agreement home in the 4th grade. I dang near passed out! But it’s necessary, and as long as my husband and I can confirm what he has learned and answer additional questions within reason and age appropriate, I am fine with it. But, lord!
LH: I’m a huge softy and by no means a beauty queen… lol but, I truly would want world peace in the blink of an eye if I could make it happen…If you could change one thing in the world, in the blink of an eye, what would it be?
RLP: I’d make racism disappear in a flash. Racism is a learned behavior, not an innate behavior. It’s a socially constructed ideology designed to keep people in a box and confined. It is so crippling to love. And that is all that matters, truly, in this world: love. There would be no hate and ignorance if racism were eradicated because then there’d be no fear. Racism was created out of fear and greed. I’d love to see it go away; then, imagine what a world we’d have!!
LH: With the traditional bookstore becoming obsolete and everyone turning to buying books online, I don’t buy the hype that “the cover is everything”. How important do you think book covers are now that almost all shopping is done online?
RLP: I have to disagree with you here. Visual rhetoric is everything. People purchase based on what their eyes are attracted to. I think a good, clear, specific book cover that relates to the storyline is IMPERATIVE to book sales even online. For me, if the book cover looks generic or poorly presented, I won’t take a second glance at it or read the synopsis. It shows a lack of respect and appreciation for the reader. So, yes, you still must have a beautifully, cleanly designed book cover, and preferably designed by a professional – even if that is the writer themselves. Editing and book covers are two keys to success for a writer in my humble opinion. If you want to be taken seriously,
LH: I can remember wanting to write as a kid. I got a really late start! Have you always wanted to write and when did you start?
RLP: Yes, I have always wanted to write. As I said before, my ferocious love of reading moved me to put pen to paper. I started writing stories at a very young age – 5, I believe. But it wasn’t until the 8th grade when I wrote and submitted my story to a book fair for middle schoolers that I knew for sure writing was my purpose.
LH: I love to see if I can see myself in a character. What interests you most about a story?
RLP: What interests me the most about story is the portrayal of humanity at its darkest, most loving or funny. I look for authenticity and an obvious pleasure in storytelling on the part of the writer. I love imagery and colorful, full language that paints a picture in my mind and moves me to action.
LH: For me, I just get hit with this whole movie in my head and start writing. How do you come up with your stories?
RLP: I firmly believe in the power of the muse. My stories are given to me by my muse. There are stories that must be told and artists/writers must be open to telling them. I have to tell the story, no matter how ugly or painful it may be. For example, in both of my novel series, Murder on Second Street and Sex, Lies & Shoeboxes, the protagonists are troubled individuals. Both suffer from PTSD as a result of horrific things done to them or experienced in their past such as abuse, murder, etc. So, writing about the frailties of humanity and demonstrating strength of dignity even in the moment of despair – that hope is always there – motivates me. I do the same for my plays. I don’t do happy endings because life is not over for these characters or for us. We do not know the ending yet. But I also do that because it’s probably who I am as a teacher. I am always s teaching, and so I want to readers to walk away affected by what they have read/seen to the point where they begin to evaluate their own lives in relation to what has been witnessed, and hopefully, come out the wiser and more connected for it.
LH: I can’t tell you or I’d have to…lol Are you working on anything now?
RLP: Yes, I am working on the following: 1) a second book in the Sy Sanford series (Murder on Second Street) and the re-release of Sex, Lies & Shoeboxes, which was originally a novella, but I have since added book 1 & 2 together to create a novel in two parts. Super excited about that release coming in the winter of 2013. I have also released a collection of 6 of my short plays called, On the Cusp of Humanity, so if you love plays, then this book is also a great purchase. Several of the plays have been performed on Off Broadway and are award-winning pieces. So, I hope to produce more of those plays for the stage as well as my full length plays.
LH: I write for fun I don’t even dream of riches…Do you write for fun or money?
RLP: I write because that is what I was created to do. I love what I do, and when you love what you do and understand your divine purpose, then money will come from that love. That’s how the universe works. It gives in response to love. I know, I’m on a whole other level. J
LH: Some of my family members had a bit of a problem with me writing my first book “A Beautiful Liar” because the character Maggie West is basically me…to a point 😉 They had a problem with the genre and me “putting it all out there” so to speak so I took a pen name. They eventually came around as I have never cared who knows who I am what I’ve done or what they think of me. I’ve never wanted to be famous, just infamous! What has been your biggest problem when it comes to family or friends when writing?
RLP: Well, not everyone is going to understand your vision in a work. I learned that a long time ago. What’s important is that you stay true to the story you were given to tell. My mother gave me the greatest gift when she said to me after I left her read one of my erotica stories and a play about transgendered males, “I never told you what you couldn’t write.” This is HUGE for me because we grew up strict Pentecostal. My mother was the First Lady of the church. What I write is not what many church folk want to hear, let alone read because it ain’t “Christian-like.” But I write what is given to me by the universe – I call him God. We aren’t supposed to preach only inside of the church walls and only church stuff. We are to go out into the world and minister. That is what I do in my work: I tell the stories of people on the outside…without judgment.
LH: I have never experienced writers block…I have experienced writers “don’t want to”… Have you ever experienced writers block and if so, how did you overcome it?
RLP: No, not really. And I say this because I teach my students to practice free-writing. That is, just write on the page what comes to mind, even if it’s, “I have no idea what to write.” That opens up creative energy. Writing, or rather storytelling, is an exercise – a voluntary act. Whether we want to believe it or not, we are participating in the act of writing every day. But when it comes to creative writing, you just need to understand that it is voluntary; you do not have to open up to the creative energies of the universe. But if you want to be used by this energy to share tell your story, then you will relax, breathe and let the energy – the muse – deliver to you what it wants for you to have. You are voluntarily opening up to it. So, there is no “writer’s block” if you are open to what the energy wants, not necessarily what you want.
LH: I get asked all the time “Do you have any advice for new writers?”… Do you?
RLP: My advice to aspiring authors is to: 1) Learn your craft. Writing is a skill that needs honing and protecting. 2) Hire an editor for your team. Yes, you need a team to help you produce credible, quality work. That team could include: beta readers, editor/copywriter, PR/Marketing, book cover designer, etc. 3) Create a solid, clearly defined platform. Who are you? What do you stand for? 4) Have a strong support network. I call them the Crying Angel Network. These are the folks who keep it real with you and keep you uplifted in prayer not because they’ll get anything out of it, but because they believe in a higher power which guides our lives and purposes us for greatness. Finally, never give up, and be realistic. When that rejection letter comes in, and it will, don’t let it knock you down. Read it, take from it that which is true and go back to the work and make it better. Keep trying, keep writing, keep revising! Remember why you write: because it’s like breathing for you.
LH: I would not change one thing in my life as I would not be me if I did… If you could go back in time and change one thing in your life, what would it be?
RLP: Nothing! Everything is as it should be. I am where I am supposed to be at this moment in time. The past helped to shape this moment. To wish to change something about my life is to regret, and I have learned to let that kind of thinking go because it holds one hostage to what was, what could have been, etc. I live in the present moment – the NOW. It’s a gift, and I want that gift.
LH: If I could go back in time and tell someone something, I’d go back and tell the founding fathers they were doing a few things wrong…If you could go back in time and tell someone something, who would you tell and what would you tell them?
RLP: If I could have a conversation with someone from the past, it would be my ancestors. I would tell them “thank you” for holding on to what could be, what was promised to them. It is through their faith and self-sacrifice that I am here – that we are here. And I think it’s imperative to our present and our future that we honor our past: that we give thanks.
LH: I would freak out if someone contacted me and said they wanted to make one of my books or my series of book into a movie as I am really very shy in person and I’d probably go into hiding. I don’t think I could handle it. How would you handle it? Who would be the first person you told?
RLP: Well, I already have two screenplays sitting on the desk of a buyer in Los Angeles. When I first got the call, I nearly passed out. It is what an artist longs to hear, but it can’t stop me from creating more work. It’s nice that they want to make my stories into film or made for TV, but I ain’t gonna hold my breath and not move on. Things take time, and we must not live only for that moment. So, yeah, I am super excited, but I’ve got to keep working. As for who I told first, my momma, of course! I know, I am a total momma’s girl! J
Thank you for that fun and informative interview RLP…Now… for the fun stuff!
Favorite Beverage? Sweet tea & Diet Coke
Exercise or Bubble Bath? Bubble Bath
Favorite Color? Blue
Take out or Dine in? Dine in
Camping or Hotel? Hotel
Sports or Chocolate? CHOCOLATE!!!!
Dogs or Cats? Neither
Favorite Food? French Fries and Cheeseburger
Favorite Song? “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” by Whitney Houston
Favorite Movie? Last Holiday – Queen Latifah & The Mummy – Brandon Fraiser
Sex or Chocolate? (The answer “Both” is totally acceptable 😉 Um, let me think about this…BOTH!!!
And now for the essay part of the interview 😉
LH: If you could go anywhere for a week, with anyone you wanted and no one would ever find out about it…where would you go, what would you do and who would you take?
RLP: If I could go anywhere for one week, it would the island of Oahu with Hugh Jackman – lord have mercy, Jesus! We walk on the beach holding hands, consume fruity drinks, watch the sun set and rise, eat tons of food and laugh our behinds off. And it wouldn’t hurt for him to have his shirt off the entire week. Yes!!!
Thank you for spending this time with us. Make sure to pick up your copy of Rebekah L. Pierce’s
Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders