I am proud to claim Lyndsey Ellis, my former student from the MFA program at California College of the Arts, who was determined to complete and have a novel published, and who, after many hurdles, has succeeded. Congrats Lyndsey on completing your novel. Here is what she says about the novel and her writing journey thus far.
“BONE BROTH is about Justine Holmes, a widow, former activist, and funeral thief, mourning her husband’s death during the aftermath of the Ferguson unrest in St. Louis, Missouri.
“As family tensions deepen between Justine and her three grown children, –an unemployed former Bay Area activist at odds with her hometown’s customs, a social climbing realtor stifled by the loss of her only child, and a disillusioned politician struggling with his sexual identity–the matriarch is forced to face her grief head-on. By reconciling a past tied to her secret involvement in civil rights activism during the early 1970’s in St. Louis, Justine quickly learns the more she attempts to make peace with her history, the more skeletons continue to rise to the surface.”
Scheduled to be released, May 2021, Lyndsey talks about the process of writing Bone Broth, an engaging title, forth with mystery
OPA: How long has it taken you to write this novel?
LE: I’ve been developing this novel (dare I say it?!) for 12 years.
OPA: Why is this novel important to you and why would it appeal to others?
LE: Bone Broth represents the human side of activists that you don’t hear or read about too much these days. I’ve always wondered what happens –what the frontrunners of civil rights movements do after they have been on the frontlines and then go home. That’s what compelled me to write this…to show that activists are human beings with personal, complicated lives.
OPA: Is this a common story in the Black experience or what is unique about it, your perspective?
LE: This is both a common story and a unique experience in the Black community. It’s common in that it speaks to intergenerational trauma and resilience that resonate in any Black community. It’s unique in that this is a story that sheds lights on Black lives and experiences in the Midwest, which aren’t usually at the forefront of mainstream media. Many persons still believe the Midwest is synonymous with white people and rural life, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are cities here, and communities where people of color exist.
OPA: As a writer living under Covid 19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, how have these two very different social realities impacted you, your writing?
LE: As with most people, COVID-19 has made me take a long, hard look at what actually matters and what’s important in my life and my community, as well as examine the craft of writing more closely. COVID 19 is further complicated by the injustices that many Black individuals are subjected to at the hands of police and other authority figures who abuse their power. This saddens me, but it also propels me want to stand up for Black lives even more and portray these experiences in my writing because words do matter and particularly now in these time, marginalized voices really need to be heard.
OPA: Do you think more people will be interested in black stories/novels now?
LE: I definitely think more people are interested in deepening their understanding of the Black experience by way of Black literature now. Recently, I read somewhere that Black-owned bookstores have been selling out of their merchandise due to the high demands for Black stories. This is great and so necessary, and I hope our stories continue to resonate with people.
OPA: What are your hopes/dreams as a writer?
LE: I want my stories to be seen and heard; I write about the experiences of those who are marginalized or voiceless in mainstream media –working class Black people in the Midwest. I want to uplift the voices/stories so others come to know them and respect their humanity and struggle. We all have a place and all of our experiences/stories matter.
OPA: Have you begun your 2nd novel?
LE: I have begun on a short story collection that I’m looking forward to sharing soon. An idea for a longer work—possibly a novel—is also been in the works. I’m looking forward to continuing both those journeys.
OPA: Finally, what has writing taught you about yourself thus far?
Writing has taught me how to channel my emotions—particularly anger and sorrow—in constructive ways. It’s shown me how to remain open and curious about life. Most of all, I think it’s helped me learn how to be patient with myself, as well as others. It may sometimes take a while but the journey—trusting the process—is totally worth it.
Lyndsey Ellis is a fiction writer and essayist. She earned her MFA in writing from California College of the Arts. Ellis was a recipient of the San Francisco Foundation’s Joseph Henry Jackson Literary Award in 2016 and the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund in 2018 for her fiction. A Kimbilio Fiction Fellow, her writing appears in The Offing, Joyland, Entropy, Shondaland, and elsewhere. She lives in St. Louis, MO. Her debut novel, Bone Broth, will be published by Hidden Timber Books in spring 2021.