AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH:
SHERYL J. BIZE-BOUTTE
TALKS ABOUT HER FIRST NOVEL: BETRAYAL ON THE BAYOU
I want to welcome author Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte who has graciously agreed to a FOUR question interview. And I have to say this is one of the best and most timely answers to questions I’ve experienced.
Sheryl is a Pushcart Prize nominee and an Oakland, California-based multidisciplinary writer. Her autobiographical and fictional short story collections, along with her lyrical and stunning poetry have been described as “rich in vivid imagery,” “incredible,” and “great contributions to literature.” She is also a popular literary reader, presenter, storyteller, curator, and emcee for local events. Her first novel, “Betrayal on the Bayou,” was published in June 2020.
As a Southern white man, born in Florida, but raised in Mississippi, then living my entire adult life in Georgia, I am looking forward to reading Shery’s book Betrayal on the Bayou. Her descriptions in the following give one a different way of looking at the issue of “…the killing abuses of power, racism, incest, sexism, classism…”
R: Thank you for this interview, Sheryl.
S: Thank you, Ronovan, for inviting me.
R: Let’s get right into it. What was your research/inspiration for the Betrayal on the Bayou?
S: Well, Betrayal on the Bayou is a work of historical fiction, so my research was a combination of known family history heavily sprinkled with factual events from the time period I chose, along with more than a bit of my ever-active imagination. My inspiration came from my desire to tell pieces of my family history while trying to capture, even if infinitesimally, the relentlessness of racism and colorism and how it affected the everyday lives of people depicted in the book and how that is still the case today. After a recent coffee meeting with a White female writing club president, and her fervent use of the false equivalency of her blonde hair to indicate her deep understanding of segregation and bias, writing Betrayal on the Bayou, became even more urgent for me. In the book, I use strong, graphically described examples to depict the scourge and impacts of separation, colorism and racism.
R: How can today’s readers take lessons from the book and use them for today?
S: First of all, I do believe that reading promotes empathy and understanding and that those two things can lead to the promotion and hopefully implementation of change and correction of ill treatment and marginalization of Black people and people of color. It is important that people of today realize this is not a new phenomenon. That it did not just crop up when George Floyd was murdered, and more White people decided to pay some attention to it. People need to know how baked-in these beliefs are; how much work was put into separation in every facet of life; and, how there have always been Black people who lived in very different ways. We are not a monolithic people, and we all suffer some deep form of discrimination on a daily basis even to this day. I also tackle the impacts and outcomes of gender bias, economics, and other areas of everyday living in the early 1850’ s ripe for betrayal in a closed society where almost anything can happen, and let readers know that many things they may think are new, are not.
R: What else would you like readers to know about Betrayal on the Bayou?
S: That it is not the usual historical fiction fare with the characters one may look for from the 1800’s Southern U.S. Oh, they are there of course, because they are fundamental to the place and time, but they are not the center of the story. Readers will be intrigued while trying to determine what is fact and what is fiction within a dystopian yet very possibly real, isolated town. I want readers to know that the setting and the people are unusual, that the things that happen are stark and substantive, and that betrayals as well as the inhumanity and humanity will stay on your mind long after you have read the epilogue.
R: I encourage everyone to read Betrayal on the Bayou. I found it to be… It is available at Amazon, and other vendors. For a full list of the booksellers and their links for Betrayal on the Bayou, visit Goodreads. For more information on Sheryl and her writing, please go to www.sheryljbize-boutte.com. Thank you so much, Sheryl.
S: Thank you Ronovan, it has been my pleasure.
And be certain to check out her selection of work on her Author Page.
© 2020 Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.