Alan Kessler is a local New England author with a new novel dealing with racism in mid-century America.
Black Rose Writing | Paperback | 2016 | 428 pp | Order Through Amazon
It starts with a murder.
In 1974, 17-year-old Jimmy Tate Sullivan watched his two friends bludgeon to death a black man. Sentenced to life for abetting the crime, Sullivan is initiated into a white- supremacist church by a fellow convict, once the best friend of an African-American teenager, Clarence Olgibee.
Shifting back to 1954, this family saga is about race, religion, and the powerful white men in a sleepy Midwestern town who plan a new world order Olgibee tries to escape.
Small choices have fateful consequences— in this life and the next. Olgibee’s choices lead him back to the two women he loved and an ultimate decision.
Tell me a little bit about who you are and where you live.
I live in Billerica, MA. I am married, have four children, and a dog named Buckeye. I write during the day and at 3:30 start teaching at my karate school. I am a 5th degree black belt; many of my students are on the autism spectrum.
Are there any favorite local spots you like to visit, ones that inspire your creativity?
This is an interesting question for me. I’m not much of an outdoorsman; I am more interested in internal landscapes.
Wow us with shock value. Is there anything about you that would surprise readers?
Shock…OK, here goes…
My mother was sadistic and mentally ill. She despised me. My father beat me. Sentenced to the electric chair for murder, he died in prison. I am extremely fortunate to have survived my childhood and come out of it somewhat whole.
What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as neurosurgeon?
My violent upbringing led me to reject all that my parents stood for. Their insanity ironically created in me the ability to be empathetic, a quality useful for fiction where even dark characters need to be understood. My parents’ rejection of me made me a perpetual outsider, one who observes others. This too is a valuable asset for creating stories.
If you could spend a day with any author, living or dead – who would it be and why?
Faulkner. His stories are complex, intelligent, densely worded with importance given to cadence and sound; they have a variety of characters and many explore the dark side of human nature.
Does the area in which you live provide influence in your writing? How so?
I have lived in Ohio, Florida, and now Massachusetts. A location becomes a setting for my writing only after I no longer live there, time and distance letting my imagination marinate what I experienced, experience the beginning of any story.
What is the most critical piece of advice you would give to new authors?
Write what is true for you and never let the passion die. In the end, that’s all there is, you and your art.
Coming up with a title can be difficult. Tell me how you came up with yours.
Clarence Olgibee is the name of the novel’s main character. Although the other characters in the book have intricate story lines, his life is central to the theme of how prejudice and hate poison both the oppressor and the oppressed.
Are there more books coming from you in the future? Do tell!
I have two other novels, A Satan Carol and Shadowlands. I am currently working on a new novel, a love story, where the stereotypical roles of women and men are reversed.
Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
Through my publisher, Black Rose Writing or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org