Happy Monday, reader friends!
Let’s welcome Brandi Boddie to our blog today! We did a book spotlight on her story “The Preacher’s Wife” last week. Today, Brandi is here to answer questions about her book and share her insights as an author of color in the publishing industry.
Enjoy your time with Brandi!
About the Author:
Brandi Boddie writes historical and contemporary romance. She resides in Texas where she loves spending time with her husband and dogs, a cocker spaniel and a schnauzer who both aspire to be food critics. She holds a juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law and a B.A. in political science from Youngstown State University. She has worked for the Office of the Attorney General in Washington D.C. and traveled extensively across the country as a military wife. When she isn’t writing, Brandi enjoys fencing and swing dancing.
Visit her website www.brandiboddie.com for news and updates.
Follow Brandi on Twitter
About the Book:
Can this small-town girl trade her tarnished past for a respectable life?
During the hot, windy summer of 1870 in the burgeoning prairie town of Assurance, Kansas, Marissa Pierce is fed up with her abusive boss. She longs to start a new life and is growing weary of convincing townsfolk that she is most certainly not a prostitute.
Civil War veteran and preacher Rowe Winford arrives in town intent on leaving the tragic memories of his deceased family behind. Although Rowe has no plans to fall in love anytime soon, the plans of God rarely match those of man.
Faced with adversity and rejection from the town and Rowe’s family, can Marissa overcome her past, renew her faith, and experience the life of love that God has planned for her?
Interview with Brandi Boddie about her book, The Preacher’s Wife:
Alexis: Why do you call this book “The Preacher’s Wife”?
Brandi: Actually, the original title was called “Garters For Lace”. There’s a line in the story that provides more detail about it. My publisher decided to give the novel a new title, which also is very fitting to the story.
Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Marissa Pierce. What’s she like? Describe her personality, looks, and motivation.
Brandi: Marissa is a young woman in her twenties. I describe her as tall, with long black hair and brown eyes. She’s attractive. Today we might describe her as biracial or multiethnic because she is Native American and Caucasian. Although Marissa was born in the 19th century, some aspects of her personality resemble today’s modern woman. She’s very resilient and independent. She’s a survivor of sexual and physical abuse. Although there are things in her past that are very discouraging, she strives to move forward in life with the help of God and caring friends.
Alexis: What’s Marissa’s backstory? Why do people think she’s a prostitute?
Brandi: Marissa had a difficult childhood and early adult life. Circumstances have forced her to work in a saloon as a dancehall girl. In the frontier days, ladies could earn money by dancing with saloon patrons and serving drinks. Not all of these women were prostitutes, but saloons and their employees were often considered disreputable at this time by the public. Marissa has to battle this perception.
Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero Rowe Winford. What is he like? Describe his personality, looks and motivation.
Brandi: Rowe is a kind, strong man who journeys west from Virginia after losing his wife and unborn child. He’s always wanted to be a minister, a profession that his tobacco farming family disapproves of. He desires to make a new start. Rowe is over six feet tall, has blue eyes and dark brown hair.
Alexis: What tragic memories is Rowe trying to escape?
Brandi: Rowe is saddened by the loss of his young wife and unborn child. He also is depressed by his family’s rejection of him.
Alexis: How do God’s plans for Rowe contradict Rowe’s plans for his life?
Brandi: As the town’s new preacher, Rowe wants to do everything right to impress the people and show his competence as a spiritual leader. He doesn’t anticipate meeting and being attracted to Marissa, a woman who many consider beneath his station.
Alexis: What brings Marissa and Rowe together? Is there anything that threatens to tear them apart? Explain.
Brandi: A chance meeting at the saloon and a later encounter firmly place the two in each other’s lives. Rowe doesn’t count on the backlash from the town or Marissa’s abusive employer, the saloon owner Jason Garth.
Alexis: In what ways to Marissa and Rowe work to overcome adversity?
Brandi: Marissa works to escape the saloon and abusive people in her life. Part of that involves seeking new employment, but not everyone in the town wants to be associated with a former saloon girl. Rowe soon learns that his can-do spirit and eagerness to prove himself must be met with action. Being a preacher involves more than Sunday sermons. He learns he has to truly serve others, even those society rejects.
Alexis: What role does faith in God play in Marissa and Rowe’s lives?
Brandi: They learn to recognize God’s voice and accept where He leads them. Marissa, due to her mistreatment by the morally upstanding people of the town, has formed the wrong impression of God. Rowe wonders how God could allow him to lose his family.
Alexis: Marissa is Native American. Why did you give her this heritage and how does it affect her story?
Brandi: Although Hollywood would have us think differently, the historic frontier west actually was made up of diverse peoples. Roughly 40 percent of cowboys were black and Latino. Among white settlers, there were often low populations of women, especially when towns were first being established. It wasn’t unheard of for white men to have children with Native American women or take them as wives. This is partly how Marissa has Choctaw in her ancestry.
Alexis: What’s Rowe’s ethnicity? What role does his racial makeup play in this story?
Brandi: Rowe is Caucasian. As a white man in a mostly white small frontier town, there are certain expectations of him. Will he fulfill them, or will he go against the grain?
Alexis: How do your own experiences as a woman of color affect your storytelling?
Brandi: I’ve always loved to read, but I didn’t see too many women/girls of color as the main characters in stories. This left me feeling like people who looked like me didn’t matter and that our stories weren’t worth telling. If I did find stories featuring POC, they were often relegated to their own little hidden corner of the bookstore or given the general label of Urban Fiction. I have nothing against urban fiction if that’s the actual story setting. However, I’ve seen too many books mischaracterized and given that broad label simply because the protagonists are people of color.
Even now, as a fan of romance novels, it can be discouraging to rarely see black women on the covers. The underlying message is that we are not worthy of love or romantic pursuit. I write stories to help change this by uplifting and representing women of color. We are from all walks of life. We have different experiences. And we have always been here.
Alexis: What changes would you like to see in CBA this New Year 2018 when it comes to authors who write books featuring people of color?
Brandi: I strongly hope we will see more stories featuring POC, written by POC. If we want this, there has to be action behind our words. We can’t just talk about what we’d like to see. We need to be proactive by promoting and encouraging authors. Buy books by POC. Tweet, follow on social media, and don’t be afraid to write to CBA traditional publishers and agents. Let them know there is a demand for diverse stories. Support the indie author movement, because that’s where we’re going to see the impact of diversity in storytelling first.
Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Brandi. You’ve shared such great thoughts! We look forward to your return in February to talk about another one of your books! God bless you.
*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.