Sunday, May 7, 2023

Q&A with Preslaysa Williams



Preslaysa Williams is the author of the new novel A Sweet Lowcountry Proposal. Her other novels include A Lowcountry Bride. She is also an actress.


Q: What inspired you to write A Sweet Lowcountry Proposal, and why did you decide to center the novel around an African American heritage museum in Charleston, South Carolina?


A: The inspiration for A Sweet Lowcountry Proposal stemmed from a few things that were happening during the time that I drafted and revised the book.


First, there were a lot of protests happening in the United States with regards to Confederate statues in public places. Second, I became increasingly intrigued by African American history in South Carolina, especially as it related to the Black church as an institution for activism and social change.


The combination of my interest in history and national events led me to create a story that centered around a Black history museum.


Q: In our previous interview, you discussed interviewing your characters. Did you do the same thing with Jaslene and Marcus?


A: Yes, I did! I always enjoy interviewing my characters. It really helps me to get to know them better, and it enables me to create a rich interior life for them. From that interior life, I’m able to create conflicts for them which (hopefully) grows into a strong plot.


Interviewing Jaslene and Marcus was different because they already had a history with one another, prior to the start of the book. So I spent a lot of time uncovering their pasts and trying to figure out the source of their wounds in order to heal them through the story. 

Q: What role do you see grief playing in the novel?


A: Grief played a huge role in A Sweet Lowcountry Proposal. Jaslene still grieved for the loss of her sister. Marcus grieved for the loss of his brother. Jaslene and Marcus’s grief hindered their ability to related to one another. It also hindered their ability to move forward in their relationship in the beginning of the story.


However, once they were able to acknowledge their individual hurts, they were able to find common ground in their relationship and reignite their love for one another.


Q: How would you describe the relationship between Marcus and his grandfather?


A: Complicated. Marcus wanted to become a museum archivist while his grandfather wanted Marcus to become a pastor, thereby continuing the family’s pastoral legacy. In this respect, they were at odds with one another. Their relationship was very close, like a father-son relationship. The inherent bond between them made their differences even more stark (and hurtful) at times.


However, as with Marcus and Jaslene, they had to reach a mutual understanding of their motivations and hurts. That understanding led to their eventual reconciliation.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Right now, I’m editing a third book that is also set in South Carolina. I’m in the throes of heavy revisions, and so that’s all I’ll say about it now.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Thank you so much for having me! If you’d like to keep up with my writing life, be sure to stop by my website and sign up for my newsletter.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Preslaysa Williams. 

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