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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Author Rosalie T. Turner: Using Fiction to Share the World's Truth

 


by Cyrus Webb

One of the things I appreciate about author Rosalie T. Turner is how she uses her gift of storytelling to not just entertain but get readers to thinking. I first learned about her through the novel MARCH WITH ME. Now she has an equally powerful book about race and the sacrifices that comes with change called LAYERS OF TRUTH.

We talk about the book and what she hopes readers to take away from it in this conversation.  

·         Rosalie, you and I first connected with your book MARCH WITH ME. What has it been like to see the response to your work?

Cyrus, it’s been so rewarding to me to see the response. When MARCH WITH ME first came out, most people didn’t know about the Children’s March of 1963 which got us the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I especially enjoyed speaking in schools and universities. To see young people become interested in this important civil rights history really touched my heart.

·         Your book LAYERS OF TRUTH is one of Conversations’ Summer Reads for this year. What inspired it?

I like to find topics that most people don’t know about, and few people really know what happened during Freedom Summer. We’ve lived in Mississippi and as I was doing research and setting up the details to bring university students there for a civil rights history tour, I met several of the foot soldiers. I realized how those foot soldiers had put their very lives on the line working to get Blacks registered to vote. Their names would never be in a history book, and I wanted their names to be known. I wanted to say their names and to tell the unknown backstories. I think that’s important.

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What I love about your work is that you help us to discuss turbulent times in history in a way that can bring people together. When did your own love of history begin?

I think it’s just in my DNA, Cyrus. All my family loves history. When I was in high school, I read KILLERS OF THE DREAM by Lillian Smith. I think that was the first spark for my interest specifically in civil rights history.

·         Outside of writing you visit a great deal of historical places, especially with young people. Why has that been important for you?

Making those trips with students and others has become the focus of my husband’s and my life. We fell into it unexpectedly when a professor at Texas A & M U-Commerce (my husband’s alma mater) put together a 3-credit hour class with a week’s tour to historic sights and hearing actual foot soldiers as part of it. My husband and I make all the arrangements and during the tour, we give a lot of background information. We do one tour of Alabama and another for Mississippi every year, and have been doing this for 10 years now, reaching several hundred students and adults.

·         What should our audience expect from you next?

 I’m feeling that “itch” to be working on something, but I’m not quite sure what I want to do next. Right now, I'm working on the rewrite of a story about homelessness for the Middle Grade market. However, there are so many little-known avenues to explore in civil rights history and it is so important that we learn that history. I’m always tempted to write something in that line.

·         Any advice you want to share when it comes to others pursuing their own goals and dreams?

I would continually urge people to pursue those dreams, especially when it comes to writing. We all have stories within us, and it is with the sharing of these stories that we are all enriched.

·         Thanks again for the time, Rosalie. How can our audience stay connected with you?

People could go to my website at www.rosalieturner.com and connect through that or follow me on LinkedIn or Instagram. Thanks so much, Cyrus, for this opportunity and for all you do and all you are.

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