Author Suzette D. Harrison is back with another dual timeline historical fiction novel. I recently spoke with her about The Dust Bowl Orphans.
Tell me about your latest book
The Dust Bowl Orphans opens in 1935 in Oklahoma during the worst dust storm the U.S. ever experienced, a storm that results in our 15-year-old protagonist, Faith Wilson, and her baby sister being separated from their family. They’re left alone, on the road, and must decide where to go. It is a multi-generational, dual timeline novel featuring two dynamic heroines from two different decades: 1930s and present day to be exact. Faith Wilson and Zoe Edwards are each on a quest. One is searching for lost family, the other for the answers to a mystery. Their individual quests ultimately bring them together in dynamic ways that are life-changing. Satisfying. Settling. The Dust Bowl Orphans is a riveting, harrowing tale of separation and risks; but it’s also an homage to women who have experienced loss but still choose to love and live.
Why did you decide to write it?
I loved writing The Dust Bowl Orphans because it provided another opportunity to salute, honor, and celebrate those who have gone before me. My great-grandfather moved our family from Oklahoma to California when my grandfather was a child. They were in search of better opportunities, better living. Their migration occurred around the same time as Faith’s in The Dust Bowl Orphans, and my family could easily be classified within that opus of “Okies.” John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath shone a light on the plight of white Americans during the Dust Bowl. Yet, it’s not often that we see African-Americans included in this phenomenon or the mass migration that occurred because of it. We’re omitted, erased (or marginalized) from the narrative. This is my tribute and acknowledgment of those brave ancestors who dared to leave the familiar in search of better. This is my way of highlighting those who are overlooked, forgotten.
What do you want readers to learn from the story?
I’d love for readers to walk away with a sense of the power of family and love. I want each reader to feel the beauty of connection to ourselves and those around us, and that our ancestors are always nearby. They may have passed to the other side, but they’re for us, helping, guiding our steps to success; and even leading us back to each other.
What do you want readers to learn from your life?
Tenacity. Resilience. The ability to get up and try again. I would want readers to see an example of an imperfect woman who has made mistakes, lost out on opportunities, even self-sabotaged, but still pursued and achieved her dreams.
If you could pick another profession, what would it be and why?
I work 40 hours a week as a customer service agent. The profession I desire is that of full-time writer. It’s my top pick, without contest. But if I were forced to choose something else it would be gospel singer because I’ve sung since before I could talk, and I love music. But my gospel renditions would flow with jazz influences far from tradition.
What’s something readers would be surprised to know about you?
I hate heights and winding mountain roads.
What books are you excited to read?
I’m looking forward to diving into Pamela Samuels Young’s In Firm Pursuit.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently in the writing cave working on my third dual timeline novel, the title of which I can’t release yet. It’s guaranteed to be another heart-wrenching tear jerker celebrating the resilience and triumph of Black love and Black women.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
As always, thank you very much, Chandra, and BFA for sharing your time with me!
Use the Black Fiction Addiction affiliate link to purchase your copy of The Dust Bowl Orphans.
To learn more about Suzette D. Harrison, author of The Dust Bowl Orphans, visit her website or connect with her on social media.
Website & Newsletter: http://bit.ly/sdhbooks