Since Flossie lives in North Carolina and I live in upstate New York, we did all of our interviews by phone. Some nights we spoke for a few minutes, other times for hours. We laughed and cried together as she dredged up memories she’d submerged for decades — to get the details, I asked about many things she didn’t want to think about because the memories were too painful. Flossie likes to say that I know more about her than she does. Her recollections are intensely vivid — her family became so real to me that I actually dreamed about them at night. I have literally hundreds of hours of taped interviews which were made over the course of more than a year. During that time, we became more than collaborators. We are very good friends. Then came the hard part — organizing Flossie’s sometimes chaotic life into a readable manuscript and writing her story.
What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
Flossie and I could not be more different — she’s African American, I’m white. I’ve been reading since before I started kindergarten, words were just jumbles to her until she was in her late 60s. I graduated from college with highest honors; Flossie’s schooling was practically non-existent most of her life. There were times I had to research what she told me — names, dates, places — because she didn’t know how to spell them. Her life was so vastly different than mine that I literally had to submerge my own personality to write in Flossie’s voice. In that, I think I was successful — more than one person who has read the book has asked me if I am African American because I had the words and usage so right.
Where is the book available?
Little Hot Mama: The Flossie Turner Lewis Story is available on Amazon.com as a Kindle e-book. It is also available as an e-book to libraries to purchase for unlimited lending to patrons.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
Flossie and I, our literary agent, Leticia Gómez, and our publisher, Stay Thirsty Media, have joined together to donate 50 cents from the sale of every digital copy of our book to The Flossie Turner Lewis Literacy Fund at ProLiteracy to support the most worthy cause of adult literacy.
Read more about Flossie Turner Lewis and "Little Hot Mama":