It’s a real honour to welcome Beverly Jenkins to the blog today as part of Diverse Books month. Ms. Jenkins has published more than thirty novels and specializes in 19th century African American life.
Her achievements, as listed on her website, are astonishing:
She has received numerous awards, including: five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards; two Career Achievement Awards and a Pioneer Award from Romantic Times Magazine; a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild, and in 1999 was named one of the Top Fifty Favourite African-American writers of the 20th Century by AABLC, the nation’s largest on-line African-American book club.
She has also been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Dallas Morning News and Vibe Magazine. She has lectured and given talks at such prestigious universities as Oberlin University, the University of Illinois, and Princeton. She speaks widely on both romance and 19th century African-American history and was the 2014 featured speaker for the W.W. Law Lecture Series sponsored by the Savannah Black Heritage Festival.
You can read more about Beverly at her website http://www.beverlyjenkins.net/ where you’ll also find a listing of all her upcoming appearances and her published novels.
She has kindly agreed to answer some questions for us; here they are:
1. What does the term “Diverse Books” mean to you?
To me the term means books featuring characters that are outside the mainstream.
2. Your book “Belle (Kimani Tru)” explores the life of a young woman in the Southern US at a time in history when slavery was still a way of life. How did writing and researching that affect you as a person and has it influenced your work since?
Belle’s story tells the history of my race as it waded through the tough times before the Civil War. All of my twenty plus adult historical and contemporaries feature heroes and heroines of color because if writers of color don’t tell our stories who will?
3. Your Blessings series has a strong faith aspect, with your main character trusting God to provide her with a purpose. What do you see as the challenges facing authors wanting to write fiction with a strong faith aspect?
The challenge that writers of faith based stories sometime face is getting readers outside the genre to take a chance on your work.
4. You have released two historical novels in the Young Adult category. Would you say it’s important to have strong diverse role models in fiction and, if so, why?
It’s important that all genres feature diverse characters. It is a diverse world after all and literature should reflect that. Children especially should have the option of reading about characters that look like them and reflect their cultures.
5. Please share with us some of your favourite diverse authors and/or books.
Some of my favorite “diverse” authors are: Junot Diaz, Toni Morrison, Nk Jemison, Daniel Jose Older and Saladin Ahmed.
Thank you so much for taking part today, Beverly!