If you missed yesterday’s post, check out my book review of Oscar’s Gift: Planting Words with Oscar Micheaux, by Lisa Rivero. You won’t want to miss this one. Ms. Rivero has graciously donated a paperback copy for my readers. Click here for giveaway details.
Before reading Oscar’s Gift, I was not familiar with Oscar Micheaux. What inspired this story?
I stumbled on to the historical figure of Oscar while doing research on the area where I grew up so as to understand the background of family diaries that I am transcribing. From the beginning, Oscar’s life fascinated me, in part because of his experience as an African-American homesteader (a part of the homesteading era I hadn’t known much about) and in part because of his later literary career. He took hold in my mind, somehow, and I knew I needed to find a way to write about him.
What kind of research did you have to do to recreate this time in Oscar’s life and place him in an authentic setting?
The setting was the easiest part to write about because it’s where I spent the first eighteen years of my life. The geography of the Great Plains is a part of who I am, even more so the longer I live elsewhere. The research for Oscar’s life and the time period happened slowly over the span of a couple of years. I read biographies of his life, analysis of his movies, and two of his novels, which are semi-autobiographical. Some of the other aspects of the story specific to the time period (for example, the 1904 issue of The Youth’s Companion) were little gifts that popped up along the way.
I especially enjoyed the character of Tomas. He was an excellent way to “see” and “hear” Oscar, but he was also an unforgettable character in his own right. How did his creation come about?
I’m so happy that the character of Tomas came alive for you! He’s the part of the story whose origin I can’t quite explain, except that he was inspired by several young people I’ve known and worked with, all of whom were sensitive and curious and idealistic in the best possible way. Tomas was my first experience with a character’s leading me through what was supposed to happen in a story, rather than the other way around.
Is this your first work of fiction? What other titles have you written?
This is my first published work of fiction, and I have a lot of other in-progress pieces lying about. I’ve written two previous non-fiction books about homeschooling (Creative Home Schooling, Great Potential Press, 2002, and The Homeschooling Option, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and two non-fiction books about intense, creative, and otherwise gifted teens (A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Teens and Smart Teens’ Guide to Living with Intensity, both 2010 Great Potential Press books). I also blog for Psychology Today.
And lastly, list some of your favorite books and authors.
There are so many! Here are a few titles and authors, in no particular order and from varying genres:
The Voyage to the Bunny Planet Trilogy, by Rosemary Wells
Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, by Kathleen Norris
To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
Anything by Willa Cather or Eudora Welty
Dubliners, by James Joyce
What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
Lisa, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and thank you also for your book donation. I’ve no doubt the winner will enjoy it as much as I did.
Click here for your own copy of Oscar’s Gift.
Lisa’s website: http://www.lisarivero.com.