From sin, abuse and abandonment to repentance, recovery and redemption
Worlds collide when Georgia transplant Natalie Jordan, a statuesque mahogany beauty and fair skinned, wavy haired Louisiana native Gregory Baptiste fall in love and begin to make wedding plans.
Gregory's mother, Albertina, makes no apologies for doing "whatever it takes" to make certain that her family's bourgeois social status and "bloodline" remain intact.The couple falls prey to a cruel scheme that is meticulously devised and executed by members of the Baptiste family.
After her husband is viciously murdered, secondary character Bernadette Mitchell flees the rural south with her young son in tow. Not long after settling in Detroit, she becomes involved in an affair with Bill Robinson, a prominent (married) pediatrician who offers to provide for them. Hopeful that she will someday replace Bill's wife, she suffers the unimaginable consequences of being a kept woman. The man of her dreams turns out to be her worst nightmare.
Set in Detroit, Michigan, circa Post World War II - the Civil Rights Era, Brown Paper Bag depicts a nuanced mind set among some within the African American culture that dates back to the times of slavery; but exists even today.
More than a commentary on skin color, Brown Paper Bag boldly tells the truth about the affects of toxic relationships and the redemptive, restoring and affirming power of true love, God's love.
1. What inspired you to write Brown Paper Bag?
VMT: In 1996, literally overnight I became the primary caregiver for my mother and both of my maternal grandparents. After several months of doing so I began journaling about my daily routine as a caregiver. Then I got the idea that perhaps I should write some sort of “how-to” for other caregivers. But in doing so, I thought I needed to explain to my future readers how I became the designee for these wonderful seniors. My family wasn’t the so-called typical two parents, two kids and a dog family – it would have required a lot of disclosure and there were people would have preferred not to have certain information publicized. So, I decided to heavily embellish the facts and turn our story into a novel.
2. So then, would you say is based on your life?
VMT: Brown Paper Bag absolutely mirrors my life – in part.
3. Is there a “Venus” character in Brown Paper Bag?
VMT: Yes. One of the characters is somewhat like me; but I don’t have any plans of revealing which one
4. What is Brown Paper Bag’s genre?
VTM: It is Christian Fiction with a "side order of history." However, it isn't preachy, nor is it filled with boring chronologies.
5. What is the book about?
VMT: I write the way I think so BPB is about a myriad of things: It addresses male/female relationships, family loyalties (or lack thereof) and it also sheds light on intra-racial discrimination, as known as colorism.
6. What is intra-racial discrimination; or colorism and how/when did it originate?
VMT: In this instance; it is deliberate exclusion and division among black Americans based on pigmentation, eye color, length and texture of hair. There are some light-skinned blacks who do not socialize with, date, marry or even do business with dark-skinned people of the same race; based upon a supposition that the dark-skinned people are inferior. Some dark-skinned black Americans hold the same feelings of disdain for our light-skinned brothers and sisters. I want to make it clear that I am not referring to physical attraction. I believe that people have organic attractions; however natural appeal can sometimes be contaminated by outside influences. As for the origin of colorism, it is theorized that it began during slavery when the slave masters’ fair- skinned offspring where assigned to indoor duties, while their dark-skinned counterparts were forced to labor in the fields
7. Where does the title come from?
VMT: Prior to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, the Brown Paper Bag test was initiated on campuses of what are now known as historically black colleges and southern universities, the state of Louisiana in particular. The test was designed to exclude darker blacks from fraternities and sororities; and further, to prohibit admission to social functions. In cases of social gatherings, someone was literally assigned the duty of screening potential party guests by standing at the door with a bag. If a prospective guest was darker than a paper bag, they were denied entrance. Less pronounced exclusion was very prominent throughout the entire country, not only among college students but in businesses, neighborhoods and even churches. The division within our race subsided a great deal during the Civil Rights era and for several years afterward. Lately we’ve seen a resurgence, but it has always existed.
8. Besides bringing awareness about colorism, what other message do you attempt to convey?
VMT: There are several male/female relationships in the story. However it begins with the main characters, an engaged couple in turmoil. Family and moral values are put to the test. The book talks about sexual sin, deceit, betrayal and even domestic violence. My intent is to illuminate how important it is to really get to know who you become involved with and how desperate, emotional decisions have can life altering effects on not only the couple – but on others. In addition though, I assure readers that no matter which wrong turns we make in life, God can and will direct the path of anyone willing to be led.
9. Does the story have a happy ending?
VMT: I’ll just say that in the end there is forgiveness, healing and redemption. And, there is also a surprise element.
10. Are you planning to write a sequel; if so when will it be released?
VMT: As I stated before, my mind is kind of all over the place. I’m in the process of simultaneously writing a prequel and a sequel. Brown Paper Bag is going to end up being the first of a series of three to five novels. The sequel will be released this fall.