Please join me in welcoming B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree Katelyne Parker to A Literary Vacation today! Award-winning author, Katelyne Parker, was born in 1972 in Brooklyn, New York, but came of age in South Florida. After she graduated from Barry University, she worked as an educator for over fifteen years. Her debut novel, Hosanna, is a captivating story that will confront the mind and inspire the soul. Today, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.
Thank you so much, Colleen.
Hosanna is a story of a young woman born illegally to a black man and a white woman during the reign of Jim Crow. To hide the truth of Hosanna’s birth story, her racist maternal grandmother forces her to be a maid in her own home.
After years of rejection and pretense, Hosanna grows infuriatingly rebellious toward her tight-lipped family and insists the truth be told. But she learns soon enough, that sordid truths aren’t welcomed in this small Georgia town where social traditions and segregation laws are a bulwark standing between her and the family she desperately craves.
Hosanna first appeared to me in a dream in 1998 when I saw Miss Margret, Hosanna’s maternal grandmother, sitting on the porch railing of her stately antebellum home. It wasn’t strange to see her drinking out of a cup as gracefully as she was, but it was strange to see her unfazed as she witnessed a fire blazing from a distance. That’s when I awakened, confused but curious. The questions came suddenly: Who is this woman? Where is she from? And why isn’t she troubled? After all, a fire was blazing! That’s when I took pen to paper and began recording what I recalled from that vision and started my frequent visits to the local library to research Georgia segregation history. I’ve always been attracted to stories of the South like, To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone with the Wind, so Hosanna’s story was a natural evolution from those beloved classics. I knew in short order, that this unexpected dream would become one of many scenes I felt compelled to expand and build around.
I can imagine many readers relating to Hosanna’s feelings of rejection and her relentless need to feel valued. And I’m almost certain that quite a few of us, out of all generations, have had to wrestle with our views on race at some point in our lives. Perhaps older generations would have raw recollections or experiences from that era and could relate to Hosanna in that way. Conceivably, individuals of all ages and ethnicities could draw parallels to the racial tensions we currently have in our country today. But I too, can imagine many of us wanting to find a semblance of hope on the other side of those tensions where we could see a way forward. I’d like to think Hosanna could be that launch point for such a discussion and that discussion would then lead to a newer way of seeing these issues, and that new way, I hope, could lead to a more profound healing that many well-intentioned people seek.
Yes, I researched Georgia and U.S. History from the pre-Civil War era to 1967, the year the Supreme Court ruled state bans on interracial marriage were unconstitutional.
I found the first person accounts from blacks and whites during that time the most riveting. If any reader believes the characters in Hosanna ring authentic, they can credit the real life people who left accounts of their experiences during the era of Jim Crow.
As for historical research that didn’t make the cut, I purposely and without regret excluded the events of southern history I felt would not move the story forward. If a historical event or fact did not relate significantly to the plot, then I had no desire to bring it in, especially if I felt it would detract from the reader’s understanding of the story.
I admire people like you who have broad historical interests. But I’m afraid I don’t ever jump around time periods. I am particularly fixed on reading and writing about southern history from the pre-Civil War era through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Well, I’m a homeschool teacher, so my mornings are primarily dedicated to my son’s academic and athletic development. Since we have full control over our schedule, I teach in the mornings, then write and conduct research when necessary in the afternoons, evenings, and weekends.
I balance my time by creating a schedule that we try to stick to in earnest. There are rare times that I wake up at two or three o’clock in the morning inspired to write pages and pages of scenes. So I don’t hinder that inspiration. I wake up and immerse myself in the world of my characters. There are times when I’m devoid of inspiration, so I read, research, or ask myself questions to provoke creativity. And that seems to work well for me.
In the end, I go with the flow of life. If life tells me, my family needs more of my time, I follow that gut instinct. If life tells me that my inspiration is overflowing and a scene must be unveiled, I go with that. I don’t force what’s not there. I live in the present. And have learned through experience to exercise what I call extreme patience.
Are you working on anything now that you can share with us?
Years ago, Danelle McCafferty, a wonderful editor with amazing foresight and talent helped me in the very early stages of this project. From her insightful feedback, I decided there was more to Hosanna’s story, but it didn’t have to be all in one book. I learned to zoom in from the bird’s eye view I found myself perched on. Then I removed two extensive story-lines from Hosanna. One of which, I’ve now entitled, M’donia. For those who’ve read Hosanna, M’donia is a section of Midville where a group of black residents were living on land designated white-only. Sadly, these residents suffered persecution for refusing to vacate land that they strongly believed was rightfully theirs. Hosanna’s love interest, John Irvin, is the main character in M’donia and he tells his story of overcoming adversity and opposition with perseverance and grace. I am extremely excited about this project. I strongly believe M’donia will be just as engaging, powerful, and thought-provoking as Hosanna.
It’s no secret that traditional publishers are inundated with author queries. I strongly believe it’s almost impossible to find all the quality first-time writers in that kind of environment. In the early years, I sought traditional representation, but that door did not open to me. However, independent publishing provided me the forum to express myself freely, to take my work directly to the readers, who I’m convinced are the ultimate arbiters of excellence. Those same readers are my unbiased reviewers. They provide me with invaluable feedback and that feedback encourages me and informs me that this work has brought inspiration and enjoyment to their lives. I’m profoundly humbled for the opportunity to reach my audience through independent publishing. But that doesn’t mean I am not open to traditional publishing, it only means independent publishing is the most viable avenue for me at this point in my career.
I began by learning more about the book industry. I soon discovered that if an independent author wanted to distinguish themselves from the innumerable books in the literary marketplace, they would first need to write a quality book and acquire recognition through reviews and awards. So I submitted Hosanna to one of the most prestigious literary groups available to independent authors today—indieBRAG.
It means so much to be honored with the B.R.A.G. Medallion for literary fiction. For years, I had been seeking validation for the painstaking work I had put into Hosanna. And so to win this award fulfilled that desire. I will be forever honored and grateful to indieBRAG, the vanguard of the literary world, founded on the magnanimous mission of recognizing and promoting quality works of fiction to the reading public, who’d otherwise be unaware of emerging authors like me.
Thank you so much, Katelyne, for sharing your answers with me today!
You can learn more about Katelyne and her book on her website and well as the IndieBRAG site. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
You can purchase a copy of Hosanna on Amazon.
A Message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Colleen has chosen to interview Katelyne Parker, who is the author of Hosanna, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ® , a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Hosanna merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.