Thank you for taking time out of your day to tell someone, “You need to check out this book!” So many wonderful people have told me, not only have they recently purchased and are reading Essie’s Roses, they have told their friends and family Essie’s Roses must be their next read.
YOU make the difference. New authors, like me, rely on you to share your reading experience and spread the word. Essie’s Roses may have a quiet start on the market, but you have told me it is loud in its heart and message. Thank you for letting me know, and spreading the word. I have some great opportunities for the book coming up. I’ll keep you posted.
Essie’s Roses on Pinterest!
I’ve been having fun researching and creating Pinterest boards with some stunning historical finds that relate to Essie's Roses and its time period: the Antebellum South. The fan above is one of my favorite finds! Visit me on Pinterest to see these amazing pieces. You can also view this board on my Facebook page under my Pinterest tab. History lovers, watch for my future post: The Language of the Fan in the 19th Century.
I'm also excited to give readers a peek into the world of Westland, an Alabama plantation in Essie's Roses. I will be creating a Pinterest board just for my readers highlighting historical costumes, accessories, and documents that inspired me while writing the book.
For my Essie's Roses readers or anyone who loves historical fashion—check out my Pinterest board highlighting gowns from the antebellum period. Here is one of my favorites (Evening Dress, 1855-58, American) from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The museum’s online collection is one of the best!
Many of you have asked some great questions about my novel Essie’s Roses. Don’t forget, you can visit my website at http://www.michellemuriel.com/ to learn more about the reasons behind Essie’s Roses, future events, and recent news. Sign up for my newsletter for the inside scoop. And congratulations to my Goodreads giveaway winners!
I have several new posts coming up. I’m a lover of roses and can’t wait to tell you about an amazing rose expert from St. Louis and share photos of his spectacular rose garden. I’m also madly in love with antiques. I have a few tips for you on how to find the best 19th century treasures. And of course, always excited to share news, upcoming events, and what you have to say about Essie’s Roses. So follow me here, on Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, or Pinterest! I would love to hear from you.
Some of your great questions answered here:
Why did you write Essie’s Roses?
I developed the story of Essie’s Roses first as a screenplay. Essie’s Roses the novel has taken an usually long journey. An interview I saw with Halle Berry after she won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball initially inspired me. During the interview, I heard this statement, “It took seventy-four years for an African-American to win an Oscar for Best Actress.” This statement really affected me.
A few minutes later, the first scene for Essie’s Roses popped into my head. I was working on other projects at the time, so I said aloud, “I’m not paying attention to you.” The way I am and how I work, I knew if I did, it would be dedicated hours of getting it out on the page . . . and I had never written a novel!
Next, I heard the first line, “This be the day Evie set me free.” It was one of those strange moments where I had no idea where the line had come from. I saw a scene play in my head, hashed it out, and instantly decided to switch gears. The story I wanted to write focused on an intelligent, intriguing African-American woman as the lead set during a period in history where this point of view is often missed.
I put the screenplay in a drawer for several years while I worked on other projects until it was time to pick it up again. The novel was my desire to tell more of the story, introduce unique tidbits of the history of slavery to the reader, and provoke thought toward a different relationship present during such a horrific time: the family relationship between whites and slaves.
Where can I buy Essie’s Roses?
Is Essie’s Roses available as an eBook?
Yes! Essie’s Roses can be found on most of the sites where eBooks are sold. You can also gift Essie’s Roses as an eBook through Amazon Kindle.
What about my local library or indie bookstore? Can I find Essie’s Roses there?
One of the reasons I love Essie’s Roses is available as a hardcover book is the option for indie bookstores and libraries to stock the book. There is a great site for readers called IndieBound. You can type in your zip, find a local indie bookstore, and order Essie’s Roses if it is not on their shelf.
I am a library advocate. I couldn’t have written Essie’s Roses without my libraries! So if it isn’t currently found at your local library I believe you can request it from a librarian and they will order it for you.
I was thrilled to work with talented designer Laywan Kwan on the cover for Essie's Roses. Laywan has designed exquisite book covers for the books Whistling Past the Graveyard, by Susan Crandall, and Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy to name a few. Thank you, Laywan! Essie's Roses is a beautiful book and I personally always love turning the pages, referencing a cover, and placing it on my bookshelf to remind me it’s there to read again.
Will you be doing any book signings or interviews?
Yes! As I navigate all that encompasses a new release, I will do my best to answer questions about the book, share more about its story and characters, and meet you! We have several events planned in the future, so don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to see if I will be at a bookstore near you!
Will you come speak at my event?
I would love to. If you are interested in having me speak at your event, please go to my contact page on my website, fill out the form to send me a note, and I will respond as soon as I can.
If there was one thing you could say about Essie’s Roses, what would it be?
Essie’s Roses is a book with heart.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love meeting new people and hearing what readers have to say about the story. Writing is such a solitary process, so at this stage it is exciting when you see people are enjoying your book and connecting with you. I’m always amazed how stories come. How pages get filled. How characters magically appear on the page. How they speak. And the stories they tell. I love being surprised by the direction a story takes. I love when the characters teach me something.
One of my favorite, most memorable, and humbling experiences came about while doing research in Richmond, Virginia for Essie’s Roses. I went to the Richmond Valentine History Center to see authentic antebellum ball gowns in person. I wanted to take some photos and study the details of the fabric and styles. There was a mix-up with my appointment, and the curator wasn’t there to show me the gowns. I was devastated. I had flown in from St. Louis, and though I had plenty to do, I really wanted to see those gowns.
The curator at the time said if I wanted to I could look at some nineteenth century documents in the document room. I was curious. I remembered seeing a slave receipt in one of the museums, and on a whim asked him if they had any. A few minutes later, he came out wearing a pair of white gloves. He handed me a pair and said, "Please put them on… just a moment."
Meanwhile, sitting across from me, an older African-American gentleman was looking through a box of antique photos. I didn’t really pay attention because I was wondering what the curator was going to bring me that I needed to wear these museum style white gloves for.
The curator came back into the room and handed me a few small thin pieces of papers. I held one gently in my hand. As I read it, I cried. I was reading a slave receipt that read:
"Received of Thomas E. Brown Eleven Hundred Dollars for a Negro boy named Lewis aged about twenty four years for which I warrant to be sound in body and mind and slave for life March the 6th, 1858. C.A. Heilig."
At the same moment the African-American gentleman, the curator was now helping, found a photo and said, "Well, I’ll be. There he is right there. That’s my great (great) granddaddy." I believe he was looking at a photo of former slaves. It was a moment I’ll never forget. Here he was searching for his family history, and here I sat looking at this history in my hand.
As I held this historical document, a receipt for the purchase of a human being, I couldn’t help feeling the weight of that period on my shoulders. I can’t think about it without being touched deeply. It changed me.
This is why I love writing. You hope to have fun, entertain your readers, but to me, it’s always about learning… learning about history, myself, and others. And it’s special when something as this unexpectedly touches your life and changes you forever.