Monday, February 13, 2023

Q&A with Shelia P. Moses



Shelia P. Moses is the author of the new middle grade novel We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963. It focuses on the 1963 civil rights protests in Birmingham, Alabama. Her other books include The Legend of Buddy Bush.


Q: What inspired you to write We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963, and how did you create your character Rufus?  


A: I was inspired to write We Were The Fire after visiting Birmingham in 1989 on a personal trip. A few years later, I met [comedian and civil rights activist] Dick Gregory and he told me his journey in Birmingham. It changed my life. Rufus’ character is based on a little boy Dick met in jail.  


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, in part, “With intention, Moses thoughtfully highlights the real-world horrors that Rufus courageously faces—including police, fire hoses, and dogs—and provides levity through his introspective and energetic first-person narration.” What do you think of that description?                                               

A: Rufus had courage! The description is perfect because all the little children had courage. They had to have courage and strength to survive. 


Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you? 


A: I have spent the last 30 years researching the Civil Rights Movement. Nothing was a surprise. The surprise is.. George Floyd, Sandra Bland, and now Tyre Nichols. How many black people must die!!!  


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?  


A: The truth! 


Q: What are you working on now? 


A: I am currently working on a coffee-table book, Black and Beautiful: A Photographic History of The Black Family, Before, During and After Slavery. This is the project of my dreams.


Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: I write to tell the stories of my people. The true story.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Shelia P. Moses.

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