a writer’s perspective
Hello and welcome, Author Ernestine Rose!
Would you like to share a bit about yourself?
Yes. I retired from teaching after 36 years: English, speech and theatre. I’m actively involved with several theater companies in Fort Worth. I teach acting classes and direct as well as promote plays. I started writing after retirement. Although I thought about it, there was never enough time when I was teaching and I enjoyed the breaks so much that I just chilled. I’ve been saving up my stories and struggling over the perfect word choice ever since. I’ve self-published three books on Amazon. My niche is family: I believe in the power of family, language, and love.
My website is familyaffairbooks.com. Family Affair Books by Ernestine Rose is my fan page. I blog about books, writing, creativity, and the importance of family. I enjoy supporting other writers by sharing their posts and reviewing their books. Many of them have done the same for me, and this sharing of creativity and encouragement is just beautiful.
My first book, 7 tips for a success marriage even when opposites attract, is a guide on marriage and relationships even when opposites attract. My husband of 38 years and I have learned to minimize our differences and maximize the things we have in common. I offer great advice and personal stories to support it.
Raising the Roses, is a personal memoir that begins in high school, follows me to college and meeting my husband, and recants my adjusting to marriage and motherhood. There are hilarious stories about raising four boys on a budget: a must-read for any struggling mother. Each chapter concludes with parenting advice.
Tales from the Family Tree, is a collection of ten stories about family, some that work and some that don’t. Some of the stories are mine (truly), and some are in my mind. They deal with relationships between mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, and fathers and sons.
The working title of my current work in progress is Monday Morning Blues, a realistic romance novel about a middle-aged woman whose husband abandons her for a younger woman, leaving her to keep it all together for their two children. I have plans for some young adult fiction and historical fiction along the way.
When did you fall in love with reading?
I always loved to read. I was an adopted only child of older parents who went to bed very early. So I entertained myself with classic movies and sit-coms on TV, and my mother kept me supplied with good books. I loved reading and discussing stories for school and taking the bus to the library. I still love good biographies, but my favorite genre has always been novels.
When did you fall in love with writing?
I remember writing an essay in fourth grade proclaiming my intent to become an author. I became so enthralled with dance and theater when I got to high school that I focused more on the arts, and I loved high school so much that I became a teacher so I could stay there. English was a natural, dependable major since I enjoyed it so much and I was really good at it, even though it wasn’t very popular in the militant seventies.
Do you remember your favorite place to read as a child/teenager?
I read everywhere: in bed, on the back porch, curled up in an easy chair, on the bus. Today, I still love to read outside more than inside. I have a closed-in patio, a swing in my back yard, and two chairs by the front door. Any of them will do, depending on the weather and the mosquitoes. I live in Texas.
If you could introduce two characters from two different books you have read, who would they be and why?
Toni Morrison is my favorite author. I just love Pilate from Song of Solomon (“If I’d a known more people, I’d a loved more people”). And at the end of Beloved, Paul D, “a man who would make women cry,” brings tears to my eyes (Sethe, you yo’ best thing.”) I would love to see these two get together.
Many authors are avid readers — how can writers separate inspiration from imitation, cultivate their craft, and mature into their own artist?
Sometimes when I start something new, I struggle with this. I decide that what I’ve written is not original, and instead of writing something new, I’m just subconsciously copying something I’ve read. I usually throw it out and keep starting over until I decide that I’ve found my own voice. Once that happens, I’m good. Writers have to be willing to see their own flaws and throw away their own words. Unfortunately, many writers aren’t and their egos make them see their every word as art. They’re not. We all have to struggle and critique ourselves, or be willing to get honest criticism from others, even the best.
Do you have any recurring themes in your books?
Yes, as I’ve expressed in my blogs, I believe in the power of love, language, and family. I also believe that your family are those who nurture you; it may have nothing to do with your bloodline, as I can attest. I’m also an incurable romantic, and I believe love and faith can conquer anything.
When do you feel that you are at your most creative?
I admire the romantic idealists of the 19th century, and I loved teaching about Henry David Thoreau, author of “Civil Disobedience,” whom I used to promote as the world’s first hippie when he protested slavery and the War. He gave up his material things to move to the woods. He cited in Walden, “All intelligence awakes with the morning. Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable actions of men, date from such an hour. . . Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. . . To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
He referred to his genius coming alive in the morning, and that is when I have the most energy and enthusiasm. I thrive on the sun. That is when I am most creative, when I am ready to get down to business. But occasionally, I am ‘in the zone’ at night and I can work until the wee hours of the morning. But usually, I prefer not to work late at night at all.
Do you prefer fiction, non-fiction, or do you love them both equally? (Reading and Writing)
I love the power of a good story, whether I’m reading it or writing it. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, as long as it’s a well-told tale. Though it may be historically significant, if a book is presented simply as a list of facts, it won’t engage me. I’ve learned more about history from writers like Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston, and Toni Morrison, than I ever did from history books. They get the feel of the time period, the frustration and limitations of the characters, as well as their emotions. They make us feel the lessons that history is supposed to teach us, and some people don’t get that. Of course I couldn’t put advice and “how to” books in the same category. I want to be able to relate to people, real or imagined.
I thoroughly enjoyed “7 tips for a successful Marriage, even when Opposites Attract.” Here is a bit of my 5 star review:
This book covers many issues, such as: marrying someone of a different faith, parenting, finances, expectations, infidelity, and just about any topic you can think of. One of my personal favorites, was the idea that it is okay to approach most situations with a sense of humor. For me, in my marriage, I agree: having a sense of humor is one of the best parts of realizing that we are both human and doing the best we can to conform and compromise.
What was the biggest inspiration behind “7 Tips for a Successful Marriage, even when Opposites Attract?”
My husband, of course! Once I’d come up with as many excuses as possible to start writing, I still didn’t know where to start. He asked me, ”What do you know the most about? I responded, “Being married to you.” We had been married thirty-six years, longer than anyone else we knew. And it was amazing because we are so different. We don’t read the same kinds of books or watch the same types of movies. I love plays and love stories. He loves sports and records five hours of news every day. I love revisiting books and movies; he never wants to see anything again. To pursue the “opposites attract” angle seemed only logical, and I realized that there are a lot of couples out there just like us, and too many of them just give up.
Would you like to share an excerpt from one of your books?
Of course! This is from the first story in Tales from the Family Tree, “The Reunion.” I was adopted at birth, and this story is about meeting my birth mother several years ago.
After her funeral years later, I learned that Aunt Dee had been run out of three towns in Ohio, and had even gone, fully packed, to the home of the white man in Kentucky who had killed her father. She relented when he and his wife begged for his life. The experience hardened Aunt Dee to men in general, as far as putting up with any mess. She outlived five husbands before her heart attack at seventy-seven, despite a serious back injury in her youth. When she buckled up her corset-like brace and donned her jewels and furs, she was stunning, like a black Mae West with a mole on her cheek. In their youth, the beauty of the Roebuck girls was legendary, but in a time and place where Black women had no voice, their beauty brought them as much tragedy as it did joy.
The Roebuck girls had been victims of every type of abuse from every type of man, black and white, stepfather and husband, lover and stranger. Determined not to be trapped in this cycle of insanity, Mattie opted to simply leave. She left Delilah, who had mothered her since her own had abandoned her; she left four protective brothers, all skilled brick masons trying to make it up north; and she left two babies that she thought would be better off in stable, two-parent homes.
And I was.
Beautiful excerpt, lovely chat! Thank you, Ernestine, for stopping by.
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