Friday, April 22, 2016

Book Spotlight: Taffy by Suzette D. Harrison

First and foremost thank you, LaToya, for allowing me to share time with you and your blog audience!

Just to introduce myself, I’m a west coast native, born and raised. The middle of three daughters, I’m married (27 years this June!) to my handsome university professor husband. We’re the proud parents of two awesome teenagers who attend a performing arts school. Currently, I’m an elementary school librarian, and I operate a small home-based cupcake business. But let me tell you what I dream of being when I’m grown J: a full-time writer! I’m thanking God in advance for the day that that blessing becomes my life’s reality. In the meantime, I write at every opportunity.

I’ve been blessed to author three novels: Living on the Edge of Respectability, When Perfect Ain’t Possible, and Taffy. And with God’s grace, there’re more coming!

Let me admit up front that when writing my first two novels I was caught up in the day’s trends. Terry McMillan had cracked the literary scene wide open with Waiting to Exhale. Black women’s relationship books were it! So what did I write? Living on the Edge of Respectability: a Black women’s relationship novel. But I added a male main character just to give it a twist. I thank God for the blessing of my first two published books. But I’ve grown away from what I wrote then.

Admittedly, my heart started moving towards historical fiction after the 2002 release of “Living…” But I was a brand new author and my then publisher/editor felt it was best I stick with what I’d started, i.e. contemporary fiction. From a marketing, logistical standpoint that made sense. My audience was just developing and I couldn’t “flip flop” on them. However, that didn’t stop my heart from doing its own thing and moving towards the story that ultimately became Taffy.

So, let’s fast forward to February 2016. A story long held in my heart became reality: Taffy made her splash onto the literary scene! I can’t describe how monumental that was for me, particularly because Taffy is my first endeavor in self-publishing. (That right there is a whole other conversation. Just know self-publishing is no joke!).

Lord, what can I say about Taffy? She’s everything! Including my most challenging writing experience to date. Taffy pushed me in more ways than I can name. It wasn’t until after Taffy’s release that I realized the process of writing her story was so intense and complex because it was bone-deep. Since that February publication, I’ve discovered that Taffy mirrors family history previously unknown to me in absolutely invaluable ways. Characters, professions, etc., from Taffy actually existed in my family! There’s a line in Taffy that says, “Blood has memory.” Taffy is a testament to that. Somewhere in my veins Taffy was brewing, waiting for me to grow as a woman and a writer before revealing the fullness of her treasure chest to me.

Yes, I’ll continue writing contemporary stories. But I’ve discovered a new author-self in writing historical romance. 

What do I do when I’m not writing? I love, love, love to read! Primarily, I read works by African-American authors. My favorite genres by African-American authors are: contemporary, romance, mystery/suspense, historical, and Christian fiction. My favorite authors are Dianne McKinney-Whetstone, Bernice McFadden, J.D. Mason, Claudia Mair Burney, and Andrea Smith (The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner). I pay homage to Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Alex Haley, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison. All-time favorite books: Sugar (Bernice McFadden), Standing at the Scratch Line (Guy Johnson), and The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner (Andrea Smith). Favorite jaw-dropper: Perfect Peace (Daniel Black). Most disturbing: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (John Boye) and Billy (Albert French). Zaniest fav: 32 Candles (Ernessa T. Carter). Favorite series: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (Alexander McCall Smith). And, yes, I’m old school: I don’t use an eReader. I like holding a book and turning paper pages.

That’s me in a nutshell. If I’m not writing, I’m reading. If I’m not reading, I’m baking and loving my family. Life is busy, but sweet. Now enjoy a taste of Taffy

Taffy by Suzette D. Harrison

Welcome to the sleepy, all-Black southern town of Bledsoe, where Colored residents proudly declare “ain’t nothing white here ‘cept milk and teeth.” It’s 1935. A press-and-curl costs a quarter. Records play on phonographs. And a telephone is a luxury.

Meet twenty-three-year-old Taffy Bledsoe Freeman. She doesn’t need her gift of second sight to know her “mockery of a marriage” to a man twice her age is far from good. After a seven-year exile Up North, Taffy travels down-home to the small town bearing her family’s name, plotting her escape from a marriage not worth the price of a press-and-curl. She only needs to retrieve the son her husband banished to her parents’ care, before boarding a train headed for the Windy City filled with liberty and opportunity. Instead, Taffy stumbles into Roam Ellis: the man Taffy meant to marry.

Twenty-six-year-old Roam Ellis is a “broad-shouldered, hard-bodied” Pullman porter riding the rails coast-to-coast, outrunning the bitter heartbreak Taffy left behind. Now, after a seven-year absence, Roam is face-to-face with his first love. Anger ignites. Old wounds are exposed. But when pain subsides, passion rises, thrusting Taffy and Roam into a hurricane of buried secrets and lies. Reminiscent of the works of Bernice McFadden, Bertice Berry, and Andrea Smith (The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner) this Historical Romance is bathed in southern lore and sweeping imagery. Lyrical and powerful, Taffy is a story of restoration and redemption that you won’t soon forget.

Available at: Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, and Nook

Thanks again for sharing your time with me. I pray you enjoy Taffy!



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