Today on the Debutante Ball, I’m excited to welcome a fellow historical novelist, Jennifer Latham, whose book, DREAMLAND BURNING, is one I’ve had my eye on for a while and also one that’s accumulating one starred review after another (Congratulations, Jen!!). Here’s what it’s all about:
When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past…and the present.
Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery the night Tulsa burns.
Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to life and raises important question about the complex state of US race relations—both yesterday and today.
I almost want to drop a mic right here and now because that book summary is so dang good! Right? Lucky you, you can enter to win a copy by retweeting on twitter:
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) February 18, 2017
Or you can share our post from Facebook. We will select and contact the very lucky winner on Friday, February 24th at noon (US Only).
Now, on to the interview!
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
There were so many books I loved as a kid; my family moved a lot, and books were one of the few constants in my life. But JACOB HAVED I LOVED by Katherine Paterson, really stands out for being so unique and true and brave. Apart from the beautiful writing and unforgettable characters, it’s a story that refuses to shy away from difficult ideas. Like, how do you carry on when you resent your sister more than you love her? And how do you cope when the love your parents give you is…lacking? More than any other book, this is the one that inspired me to become a writer. And it continues to be the gold standard I judge my own writing against today.
Jenni: It sounds like Paterson has also inspired you to tackle difficult ideas in your writing as well. Kudos to you both!
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters and why?
No question: Omar Little from The Wire. He’s a brilliantly-written—and brilliantly-portrayed, thank you Michael Kenneth Williams—Baltimore criminal who robs drug dealers for a living. Omar scares EVERYBODY because he’s ferocious and fearless and will. Not. Back. Down. But instead of being just a straightforward “bad guy,” he’s also this amazingly complex human being who takes his grandmother to church on Sundays and has tender, loving relationships with his boyfriends. One of my favorite quotes of his is, “Omar Don’t Scare.” The other is, of course, “A man gotta have a code.”
Jenni: I haven’t met Omar Little yet, but I’m going to have to change that!
What time of day do you love best?
Sunrise. I’m not a natural early riser, but I usually get up early anyway. This is especially true when I’m deep into writing new text for a book. Being up while the rest of the house is still quiet, hearing the coffee pot gurgle, watching the light through the windows change—it’s kind of magical. And it always makes me happy to start my day at dawn with mindfulness and gratitude.
Jenni: Well damn, you make getting up early to write sound kinda fun.
If you were a drink (preferably alcoholic), what would you be and why?
Seeing’s how I can’t seem to write a book without a dead body in it, I’d be a Corpse Reviver. But there are two versions of this drink, so since I always prefer my revisions to my first drafts, I’ll be version #2. The ingredients for this one are gin (astringent), lemon juice (tart), curacao (hints of sweetness), Lillet (complex), and a dash of absinthe (dangerous). If I can capture all those qualities in my books as deliciously as they blend together in a liquid Corpse Reviver, I’ll be a happy girl!
Jenni: Please don’t be insulted if I never ask you to fix me a dangerous astringent cocktail 😉
Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
I curse like a f*ck!^@ sailor at home. But the cat’s out of the bag on that one now 😉
Jenni: I spy some of your 1920s lingo shining through!
Thanks so much for joining us, Jen!! And early congratulations on the release of DREAMLAND BURNING, which comes out THIS Tuesday, February 21st from Little, Brown!
Jen is an army brat with a soft spot for kids, books, and poorly behaved dogs. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband and two daughters. For more information about Jennifer and her book, please visit jenniferlatham.com. You can also catch Jen on Twitter Instagram, and Facebook!