I was at a regularly scheduled meeting and my wife was revising “Festivals by location” for me (see right sidebar) to delete the ones I had just attended and add some future ones. As she added my next one – The Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 15 – and clicked on the link to it, suddenly a face she recognized floated across the computer screen. It was Dolen Perkins-Valdez who was scheduled to speak at the Gaithersburg Festival and also at our local library about her book, Wench: A Novel. Barbara remembered that I had wanted very much to attend this presentation but would miss it due to my meeting. On the evening we picked up the flyer (see post “The book that was not a book”) I had said to her, “Maybe somebody else could go to this for me.” She had stashed the flyer in her notebook to look at later but, after the face appeared on the computer screen, Barbara found the library flyer, shut down the computer, and went to the library, luckily minutes away. Perkins-Valdez opened by telling how the novel came to be. In reading DuBois, she had learned of a resort in Ohio where southern slaveholders brought their concubine slaves with them when they stayed there, among prominent abolitionists who frequented the resort. When she could not find any original source material from these enslaved women, she decided to try to tell their stories as fiction. Thanks to Dolen and Barbara, I now have an autographed copy of Wench: A Novel, which I look forward to reading as soon as I finish The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper.
Dolen’s story reminded us of how Well Considered came to be. When I was researching the history of Don Speed Smith Goodloe, the first principal at Bowie State University when it was a normal school, I came across an interview in which someone said there was a lynching in an area of Bowie as late as 1907. I was shocked and decided to see if I could find some confirmation of the statement. However, after doing much research on 1907 and lynchings in Maryland, including reading all of The Baltimore Sun newspapers for that year, I was never able to corroborate the statement. But it did trigger the idea for my fictional story, which contains much of the history I learned in my research.