Sunday, April 05, 2009

Joanna Catherine Scott and her new book

Joanna Catherine Scott is a fascinating woman. She is passionate about humans and our history, and she is passionate about justice.

Here is a great bio bit from her web site (go to her site and read the "rest of the story"):
However, since I have been accused of being snooty because I have no personal data on my website, here is a brief summary of my life for those who like to know about such things: I was born during an air raid over London, raised in Australia by a mother who had been a stage and radio actress but got saved in a panic due to Mr. Hitler’s bombs and eventually became a Pentecostal preacher, exorcist and healer.

My father had a hand in raising me as well. As a young man, he took his degree in engineering from the University of Melbourne, then worked his way to England as a ship’s engineer, where he took up a post-graduate apprenticeship with Metropolitan Vickers in Manchester. When WWII broke out, he joined the British Royal Engineers (or Sappers), which went ahead of the army into France and Belgium. Later, he took over production of the Bailey Bridge, the “instant” bridge used by British and US troops all over Europe. Back in Australia, he went into the steam combustion engineering business, managing a company that built boilers for electric plants. He was a phlegmatic man and adored my mother to the end despite her proselytizing religious fervor.

On Friday night I went to listen to Joanna Scott as she "launched" her new book, Child of the South, at Market Street Books in Southern Village (Chapel Hill), where she had launched the first (The Road From Chapel Hill, to which this one is sequel) two and a half years ago, according to Kathryn Henderson (owner of Market Street store and good friend of the author's). I met Joanna through Kathryn, when Kathryn invited Joanna to attend Kathy Oddenino's book event at Market Street a few years ago.

The room was full at Friday's book launch, and many seemed familiar with Joanna's work. I was fascinated with her stories, full of her researched details of the Old South - in particular, North Carolina's south, which her characters embody. I learned of Abraham Galloway - a handsome (mixed race), imposing, bold activist whose funeral, in Wilmington, drew 6,000 people or more, the largest in the state's history. He was only 33 when he died, in 1870. (Apparently, descriptions of people dying from "sudden illnesses" were common.) Galloway had a dramatic passion for justice and the dream of justice being real, every day, for all. Scott described the silence as the thousands of people marched in procession, when the streets in town were white sand and all that could be heard were the feet as they marched and the wheels of the carriages as they made their way. Her obsession with Galloway began her interest in writing this sequel, Joanna said. She loves to read history, and read excerpts from local newspapers following the passage of legislation when Negroes were given the right to vote. No one was "PC" then, she said, and the views were bold and, to me, shocking. Southern Historical archives are full of the treasures of our past, and this Australian-bred local author writes with great humor and compassion about the human dynamics of our history. What a treat it was to hear her and learn more about this land we call home. Thank you, Market Street, for hosting this event, sharing treasures from home and abroad.

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