15 Questions for Bonnie Parker Pre-Clyde

This week the Debs gals take on the point-of-view of their characters. 

Many hear the name Bonnie Parker and think: American outlaw, bank robber, or of her counterpart, Clyde Barrow. But, who was Bonnie Parker before becoming part of the infamous ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ duo? With little known about Bonnie’s life pre-Clyde, I’d like to introduce you to Bonnelyn–the fictional name I give Bonnie at the onset of my novel BECOMING BONNIE–through a quick Q&A.

1. Bonnelyn, can you tell us a little about yourself?

via bonnieandclydehistory.blogspot.com

Sure. Well, I’m seventeen, born on October 1, 1910 in Rowena, Texas. But, after my daddy died, my ma, older brother, little sister, and I moved to Cement City, Texas.

2. A middle child, something to come back to. But first, what’s Cement City like?

It ain’t much, I can tell ya that. Got its name because of a big ol’ cement plant along the river where my brother works. Besides that, we’ve got a physician’s office, general store, and telephone connections building. Though that last one doesn’t do my family a lick of good since we can’t afford a telephone. But that’s it. That’s Cement City. We don’t even have a school. We cross the tracks into Dallas for that.

3. So you’re saying you’d rather live somewhere besides Cement City?

It has its favorable qualities, too. My li’l town is a pocket of good. I’ll be honest I haven’t put any real thought into living elsewhere. This is where my family is.

4. Your family is a big deal to you. Do you think they’ve influenced who you are today?

via Texas Hideout

For sure. Buster, my brother, is a bit of a wild child. My sister, Little Billie, is as sweet as pie. I keep ‘em both in line since our ma has to work so much at a factory in Dallas. With it being summer, and since school let out, I work in Dallas too, at a diner—though Mr. Banks keeps cutting my hours because we’ve been slow.

5. You have a lot on your plate. Any room for boys?

There’s Roy. But there’s always been Roy. We’ve been together since we’ve been knee-high to a grasshopper.

6. Do you think you’ll marry him?

Who, Roy? Maybe one day. We’re only seventeen, and this here is the 1920s. Women can vote; women are equals, wanting to make a name for themselves. I’m no exception. There are things I want to accomplish before becoming Mrs. Roy Thornton.

7. Like what?

Stupid li’l stuff. Standing at the front of my very own classroom. At a bank counter, depositing my payroll checks. Shaking hands with a salesman, purchasing my first car. I want Bonnelyn Parker to be somebody. Then, my daddy will look down on me and smile, knowing I ain’t struggling, I’m thriving. I’m more than poor.

8. Were you young when your father passed?

Yeah, I wasn’t even double-digits yet when the Great War took him. He was a good man. In fact, my ma always jokes, proclaiming him a good Christian man after he got the rest out of his system. The gentlest man who’s ever gone and held a shotgun.

9. Who else is important to you besides Roy and your family?

Well, there’s Blanche. Though we couldn’t be any more different. She’s impulsive and loud. A horrible student. Jumps from boy to boy like they’re going out of style. But she’s my best friend. Really, she’s more like a sister. Roy hates her. When we were seven, she convinced me to pocket money from the offering basket so we could buy candy. Ever since, he’s convinced she’s going to corrupt me at every turn. Probably ‘cause she does try. Hasn’t though. I’ve got a good head on my shoulders. Pull straight As. And, every Sunday, I sit in front of a piano at church, press my fingers into the keys, and let the Lord’s words roll off my tongue.

10. So, you like music?

Oh yes. To me, singing is the purest form of feeling free. My daddy said it’s ’cause those words, those melodies, come from deep within.

11. Do you ever sing in front of people?

*Shrugs* In the choir. A talent show at school. Nowhere fancy. Blanche is the one with the courage to really put herself out there. Not me.

12. How would you describe yourself?

Well that question ain’t fair. I feel weird talking ‘bout myself that way.

13. Okay. Well, smart, based on your grades. Who’s your favorite author?

William Butler Yeats. I’ve read many of his poems. Though he has this one line: But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I use it to encourage myself. Almost like I’m going to prove that line wrong. I’ll have money and dreams.

14. Some say middle children tend to be successful. Also, they’re very faithful to their partners. And, they’re often attracted to other middle kids. Is Roy a middle child?

No, he’s an only child.

15. Ignore that last part, then. Last question: What is your most treasured possession?

My dreams.

***

To continue to get to know Bonnelyn as she transforms into “Bonnie,” pick up BECOMING BONNIE <3

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Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years ​chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia's countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni's passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet. BECOMING BONNIE (Tor Forge/Macmillan, 5/9/2017) is her debut novel that tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s. SIDE BY SIDE, telling Bonnie and Clyde's crime spree story, will be released in the summer of 2018. Please learn more about Jenni's books at jennilwalsh.com.

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