I read a book, I reviewed a book and I posted it here Waiting for Regina
I loved the book, it was a thoughtful and a powerful story, written simply. So, I reached out to the author and asked him a few questions about Mispha and his journey with her…
I present to you Curtis Jackson…
1) What inspired you to write this story of Mispha?
It was my long-time desire to write a novel. When clearing up some paperwork to make room in my living space, I uncovered this short story written by me in 1994. The small tale (entitled, Regina What Is the Color of It?) drew attention to the issue of colorism but focus more on the relationships of Mispha, Regina and their school teacher. I read over it several times and researched colorism online, finding books, articles, and viewing documentaries about it.
What did I learn and continue to realize?
It is a troubling social complication in Brazil, Africa, the West Indies, India, the United States-globally with an extensive history unresolved into our day. One of the question that flowed through my mind is after all the hard fighting for civil rights of homosexual couples; why does colorism still exist? It’s perplexing and disturbing that people are disregarding each other within their ethnic groups due to colorism, while embracing the privileges of voting and other freedoms. After that, I felt the need to produce a novel that is non-political and non-religious addressing colorism on a personal level while celebrating bonding friendships.
2) Does the story of Mispha have some similarity to what you faced in your childhood?
Since I was touched by others’ suffering from discrimination and bias. I did not want Mispha’s story to be about me. The book project was an opportunity to explore her world and how she was being affected by the unfriendly attitudes of colorism within her city. Although, it is not possible to directly apply Mispha’s to an actual person, I wanted her to stand up and prevail in behalf of others living today. Of truthful similarity, I can relate to the unfair treatment Mispha experienced as a youth in the novel.
All of us desire to be treated fairly and with dignity. The novel communicates the power of personal choice in the interests of others while benefiting oneself. I will say it is vital children witness such goodness day to day, adults can have an impact more positive than what they can imagine.
3) Did you have to do a lot of research for this novel?
Yes, it was overwhelming, at times I had to stop writing to get the facts right. For example, you probably will have a hard time finding a farm in Nassau County like the one Mispha’s father was employed. My research lead me to conclude there might have been active farms in Sand’s Point before the land was overcome by commercial development and residential homes.
4) You are an artist too, and you have published your book of cartoons. Are you planning to do some more?
My first book was what you referred, a collection of social commentary cartoons titled 57 Pages. It did not fare well on the market, which effect contributing to, me writing more than producing artwork.
On my limited budget, it is very expensive and time consuming to re-edit and revise a previously published work. I admit being reluctant toward producing another batch of social commentary cartoons aside from 57 Pages. I have input some drawings for my upcoming book containing my past blog site postings. I would love to create a few coloring books, if they don’t sell they will be pleasing gifts for family, friends and others.
5) Despite a lot of personal challenges, you still write. What motivates you?
Many writers may reveal to you they started writing for themselves before doing so for their potential readers, I am one of those authors. Waiting for Regina was written to encourage me to read, learn more, and care better for others’ welfare.
Writing is a wonderful ability to please ourselves and consider fellow individuals. It started early, during childhood my brother Lewis and I produce hand-drawn comics for enjoyment. How so basic, Bic ballpoint pens and lined notebook paper as sources of recreation. The wish for personal happiness is motivating, when that yearning is satisfying you want to share it with others.
6) What are you working on next?
I am pleased you asked the question. I am becoming more aware that some portions of Waiting for Regina were influenced by previous news blogging on Curtis on the News. The blog site was closed a few years ago. I did initially, in 2015, collected articles, past blog postings and published it in a book. It was soon removed from the market. However, half a year ago, I learned not all the copies were eliminated. The online publisher Nook Press had the original publication on the shelf in my projects folder. I re-read the manuscript and started re-editing it. I still am engaging in it on and off amid my obligations. I am anticipating the book will be on sale before the end of the year. It will be called Curtis on the News, The Unfinished Chronicles, 2008-2013.
7) Where do you see yourself five years from now on?
Well…five years ago I struggled against unemployment and a severe lack of funds towards living a satisfactory life with basic needs fulfilled. I want to live a simple life, to be content with fewer material things populations are thirsting after daily.
I do want to suggest I am the odd man out, am thankful for what I have each day. There are billions suffering worse fighting for their lives with questions about their survival. I should be grateful. But, like them, I do not want to dismiss those basic privileges of living a secured life with solid hope for our future, this is a feeling desirable within half a decade. It means more to me than being a famous author or wealthy, or winning the Noble Prize for literature.
8) Tell me something about you which hardly anyone knows
Addressing a personal question, I had for myself: Am I guilty of the unhealthy thoughts and attitudes tied to colorism?
Unfortunately, yes, I do not wish to say in what manner however, this human mental fault existed in me at one time or another long ago. Well then, the cat is out of the bag…I must have written the short story to confront it. It is not easy to admit, I am regretful, nonetheless, it is better than blindly promote bias emotions as righteousness or as a privilege of one above another. Honest self-examination can assist a person to get on the right track improving his or hers humanity.
9) What do you do other than writing?
Currently, I am a college student majoring in Graphic Design, my studies, assignments and projects absorb much time.
10) Was self-publishing difficult and what piece of advice can you give budding authors?
It was and is tough going, and the results are not a guarantee for lasting success. There is considerable uncertainty. I advise budding authors to examine the actual marketplace of their chosen genres. It is an activity encouraging me to seek ways to write a unique story.
I admonished new writers not just to author a story of good guys and bad guys. One literature evaluator referred to the characters in my book as good guy and bad guys getting what they deserved. The statement place things in a nutshell, okay.
The bummer situation in independent publishing is sadly there are many books out there that are, well, awful, in content or appearance or both. Thus, a reputation affecting the industry of self-publishing. A reason why major journals and newspapers decline reviewing many indie books, focus on major, mainstream publishing. Producing good writing content is a multi-length chapter. I like to talk a bit about appearances.
Let just say a new writer did produce a great novel, a masterpiece. Good for her or him, but their job is not done. The author should present the book in the finest way possible, well formatted with the suitable typeface and the finest book cover they could muster, thoughtful and relative. They should not be so quick to get it out on the market as soon as possible. That’s like running the marathon in writing and flopping before the finish line or slopping up the icing on the cake.
11) Every story affects authors and readers, how did Mispha affect you while writing her story?
It is embarrassing, I cried and this interrupted my work. To go on, I kept telling myself these are fictional characters and the story is not true. Amazing, I have not stop shedding a tear each month since or getting congested to use up boxes of tissues.
One of the scenes that touched me is when Mispha first cried before her mother after her father counseled her. Another was when she was placed in a compromising circumstance that could affect many persons for decades.
As an adult, that part of the novel cause me to consider there will be critical moments in our lives regardless the generation. Mispha is helping me to consider not to think about oneself, consider how your decisions and actions would affect others.
12) I know racism can take subtle tones, I have faced it myself. Do you also face it?
The fact is it won’t go away, racism reappears and modernize itself according to the times.
I have faced it economically too. There is never a reason to be angry at another ethnic group. There have been black men who tried hard to get me to hate Caucasians. I refused.
Because persons of both races and other ethnicity have treated me favorably as their brother. The reality that bites me is, in my lifetime, numerous African Americans were purposely dishonest, un-trustful, scheming, and intentionally hurtful. Others tried to intimidate me or affect an unfavorable outcome.
Am I speaking against my race? No. I am expressing disapproval of the sinking behaviors and attitudes of any human regardless of their physical identity. I do not want to remember those unpleasant times, to note as in the novel, forgiveness can be remarkable, especially for those who worked diligently to earn it.
My realization is: it is unavoidable; I am seeking ways to avoid letting racism and injustice, to poison me, to affect my heart condition, mind and prospects. I believe racism and any unfairness will be stomped out of existence, for now it is up to the individual and family.
13) What kind of music do you like and your favorite song
I grew up loving Classical music and some opera. It is a large pot size combination of my likes nowadays; Alternative, Folk, Jazz, Nature music. As to song, hmmm, I am pleased to hum Break Out by Swing Out Sister.
That is Curtis Jackson…. Speaking from his heart….