Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.
I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Michal Scott…
“Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud”
We all need to be inspired. I grew up in the “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud” era, so I’ve been seeking and finding images and histories of African Americans for over fifty years. As part of that quest, I once bought a box of thirty-six famous Black Americans flashcards. Imagine my disappointment when only six of the thirty-six were women! Six?! And the six that were included were women I already knew. Three were important 20th century figures in entertainment, politics and civil rights and three were slaves. But weren’t there any other Black women I should know about? That question started me on my present hobby: specifically collecting pictures of African-American women. If a postcard had a Black woman’s face on it, I bought it and framed it. If there was book with a collection of photos, I bought three: one for the keeper shelf and two to cut up for framing. Soon I had so many Billie Holidays and Josephine Bakers, I started making and framing collages to fill 11×14 frames. I hung my treasures prominently around my home where I could receive inspiration from their presence.
Although I was initially disappointed by my flashcard purchase, those six cards impacted my writing. I became consumed with the question of how we went from being slaves to producing a famous Metropolitan contralto, the first Black woman elected to Congress and a fighter for civil rights that President Roosevelt included her among his advisors. The histories I learned as I became acquainted with these and the other women in my collection stirred my imagination. I began to model the heroines in my stories on them. Sometimes I’m able to incorporate incidences from their lives as well.
For instance, not many people know how later in life Harriet Tubman was so poor, she became vulnerable to swindlers. In One Breath Away my heroine, ex-slave Mary Hamilton, was victimized by someone she trusted and had her life put in danger as a result. One Breath Away is a romance that shows how she learns to trust again: herself and the man who wants to win her love.
I’ve recently moved from the Northeast to the Southwest and have over two hundred photos and drawings to be unpacked and rehung again. As I do I’ll be sharing my collection on Twitter and Facebook during Women’s History month hoping they’ll inspire others and they’ve inspired me.
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was saved at literally the last gasp. She returns home to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone until the handsome stranger who helped save her re-enters her life one night at a dance, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more. Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
“Why—why do you want to dance with me?”
He smiled with the serpent slyness that probably charmed Eve. “I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you.” “I might.”
He turned his head slightly. “Really? Your practiced calm says otherwise.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Practiced calm?”
“The face you present to the world until something touches your heart.” He gestured to his right. “Like when that baby there cried. Your expression changed to one of concern, then changed to one of contentment when his mother satisfied his hunger.”
Mary blew a breath through her mouth. This man was studying her. Really studying her. Should she be flattered or worried?
The one-two-three, one-two-three magic of the waltz began. He guided her in its dips and glides, through its rises and falls. The awkwardness attributed to her by past dance partners didn’t raise its ugly head. Her spirit lightened then soared until that still, small voice sounded the alarm.
You were fooled by another man and his fancy manners. Don’t be fooled by this one.
Hints of bay rum mingled with a manly scent against whose lure she struggled then lost. Once again her toilet water failed to hide the salty scent of her arousal.
Eban pinned her with a not-so-casual scrutiny. Could he smell her too? She tried but failed to read him. Dare she hope the ease in his smile meant he found it pleasing?
The other couples held their partners off with discreet and proper holds. Not Eban. Warmth radiated from the hand holding the small of her back hostage. The heat spread across her buttocks then seeped into places more private. He bent his elbow and gentled her forward so only their clasped hands separated them.
“Why, Miss Hamilton, I do believe you’re blushing.” His fingers held hers with a teasing yet possessive grip.
“I am not.” Her words shot out with a force she hadn’t intended. “I mean I don’t blush.”
“No?” A cheeky boyishness winked at her from eyes as dark as chocolate. He leaned down so his breath tickled her earlobe. “Not even if I kissed you behind your ear?”
She shrank back then stared up into the gaze showering her with attention. Her heart beat beneath her breast with a prisoner’s unease. An unease she knew well having once been a prisoner.
Michal Scott is the pen name of Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. Inspired by the love mystics of Begijn, Audre Lourde and Bell Hooks, Rev. Anna writes erotica and erotic romance with a faith arc, hoping to build a bridge between the sacred and secular, spirituality and sexuality, erotica and Christ, you and a well-written spiritually-stimulating and erotically-arousing story. Her story settings also seek to give insight into the African American experience in the US. In addition to erotic romance, she writes inspirational romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance and women’s fiction as Anna M. Taylor.
Social media: @mscottauthor1, www.michalscott.webs.com