Friday, September 06, 2013

Bought Off

It doesn't take much for someone to have me eating out of their hand. It's pathetic really, how gratefully I respond to just a little bit of praise.

In addition to writing mysteries, I do some academic writing. There's no money in it unless one hits it lucky with a fabulous book that is adopted in classrooms across the country. That kind of writing secures tenure if one is on an academic path. But I'm not. I write novels.

But I'm a really good researcher according to Dr. Quintard Taylor who praised an encyclopedia entry I turned in yesterday for BlackPast.org. It was about The Kansas Emancipation League. Finding and understanding the information was really hard work. But that's all it took, really. Just a little pat on the head from Dr. Taylor and I squared my shoulders and vowed to my best on the next entry on the list.

How can I complain? This odd bit of side research fuels my knowledge about Kansas history and often sparks an idea for a plot. My field is African Americans in Kansas and their contribution to the West.

I stumbled into this obsession through doing research for historical novels. I noticed African Americans were writing fabulous letters to Kansas newspaper editors in the 19th century. It didn't make sense to me at the time, because it was very, very hard for blacks to become literate. There were laws against slaves learning to read and write. But what made even less sense was that there was so little written about the men behind these letters.

I really want folks to know about these individuals and the impact they had on forming our state. I was honored to have a chance to contribute to BlackPast. I'm grateful that researching novels led to these discoveries, and grateful that this research strengthened my novels.

Life works like that sometimes. Things come together in strange ways. By the way, Type-M'ers, don't want you to turn green with envy but BlackPast.org is now the world-wide go-to place for black history. It has 3.4 million readers.

BlackPast.org

2 comments:

Irene Bennett Brown said...

CONGRATULATIONS, Charlotte, on your encylopdia entry for BlackPast.org. A reading audience of 3.4 million is stupendous to say the least.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Irene--isn't it? Dr. Taylor did a colossal work in pulling this off.