I so admire Rebekah Pierce’s entrepreneurial spirit and endless creativity. And her realness, which I experienced when she checked her email and saw that Debbie Allen had agreed to read her screenplay as a possible directorial project. She wept tears of gratitude as we sat in the VMFA cafe.
Sometimes unexpected moments of joy occur, especially when one is talented, persistent and willing to work hard. Rebekah self-publishes novels and writes scripts and plays when she is not teaching. She not only writes a diversity of content, she promotes it. That’s a winning strategy readers can emulate.
Can you tell us more about the screenplay? Is Allen on board? Memphis Sun is the story of Hayden Clarke, 14, an aspiring singer who finds herself the unwilling target of bullies. After unrelenting torment at school one day at the hands of her bullies, Hayden tries to take her own life. As she recuperates in a local hospital, she meets janitor and old time musician Uncle Joe who shares with her his story of success and his eventual downfall at the hands of a drug addiction. While forming an unlikely friendship, Hayden learns that dreams are worth fighting for, and that not even our own fears can stop us if we take a chance on ourselves. Debbie Allen has agreed to read the script for the directorial position. We are still waiting for her decision. But my fingers, toes and eyeballs are crossed because it’d be a dream come true to work with her.
How did you get started writing scripts? I actually started writing screenplays when I was approached by local filmmaker, Derek Wright, in 2008 to redevelop one of my plays into a short film. I as quite taken aback because my eye had always been on theatre, not TV or film. But I believe in taking advantage of opportunities, so I said yes and learned how to write in this genre.
Your latest novel, The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman, has been on Amazon’s top 100 list for ebooks in its genre since the December release. Congrats! What inspired the story?
Lucy Bosman was actually inspired by research I was doing for my first novel, Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders. I came across a story in the 1862 edition of the Times-Dispatch where a mulatto woman was arrested along with two other women and charged with prostitution, and the corruption of white men. I was intrigued by the story because History tells us that women of all colors and class were prostituting during the Civil War. So, I started thinking about how historically, the mulatto has been portrayed as either a prostitute/Jezebel or a damsel in distress in Literature and Film. This has annoyed me, especially having taught Literature for over 15 years now. So, I wanted to challenge that perception. I wanted to give her – the mulatto – a new voice, a new dream. Out came Lucy Bosman, a widowed-mulatto and former slave who comes to Richmond, VA from Tennessee to claim property left to her by her husband. She chooses to pass as white in order to claim it as she feels it is her only option for creating a safe financial and independent future for herself. The novel has received nice reviews and then some quite angry ones, which is to be expected.
You are also a playwright. Tell us your proudest moment concerning one of your plays?
My proudest moment for any of my plays is when they are performed in front of a live audience in a theatre. There is nothing quite like seeing your work come to life with actors, props, staging, etc. To hear the characters tell their stories, it is amazing.
How do you fill up your creative well? I love to read, so I am always looking for new books by my favorite authors or new books – mostly works of fiction. But I also edit other authors, so I get to read some great stories and help birth great stories.
What drives you? Telling stories that are not often well-received because they dig up pains and dark places that society does not often wish to share or feel. I am a storyteller. I work hard to stay open to my muse, to not let the world dictate what I “should” write, but rather what “needs” to be told. I know that sounds crazy, but I truly do consider myself to be a socially conscious writer whose job it is to “tell the story. So, from the little girl who is being sexually abused by her pious step-father as her mother lies dying of cancer to the child born of a secret love affair trying to step out from behind the shadows of her parents’ sin, these stories reveal the deepest essence of all of us – the thing we all desire and are worthy of: love.
When did you officially consider yourself a writer? Oh, I have always known I was a writer. I cannot remember not ever writing. But perhaps the one moment when it was solidified for me was when I wrote my first story/book in the 8th grade for a book fair contest. It was called Cool Times at Clairemont High, and my partner drew the illustrations. It featured a group of friends who worked together to solve a mystery. We won first place. I could not believe it!
How much time do you set aside to promote your work? I try to get online at least twice a day, every other day or so to promote my work. It doesn’t always work because I am a mother, wife and teacher, so my schedule gets in the way sometimes. So, I do pay for certain daily promotional campaigns which helps keep my name out there when I am unable to personally do it.
Are you still teaching? Yes, I am still teaching. I teach not only English, but I am back in my first career, Medical Office Administration. So, now I am teaching Anatomy & Physiology for Medical Assistants/Medical Office Administration as well as another core class for the field for a local allied health school. I’m tired, ya’ll!
What’s next? Well, I am considering producing another play here in the Richmond area this summer. I am also still working on the screenplay for Memphis Sun as well as for another project called Stitch. Then, somehow, I must find time to complete the screenplay for The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman, and the second book in the series Murder on Second Street. Did I mention I also need to finish writing my first fantasy-adventure novel, Captain Jack? Yep….