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BBC: Acts of Forgiveness by Maura Cheeks

1.Willie’s return home seems mandatory. What is the message here?

There is a level of responsibility in Black families to ensure legacy is preserved because of all we have survived. Willie’s return home explores the complicated nature of that sense of responsibility.


2. We admire Willie from the start. She, her daughter and mother have an inner strength. How did you go about creating these characters?

I wanted readers to fall in love with these characters and to explore the different levels of forgiveness that each of these women offer for their family. I make character cards for each character as I begin sketching out the details of who they are. When I start writing, in some sense the characters begin telling me who they are instead of the other way around.


3. What actors do you imagine would play them if this goes to screen? What about Max and Marcus?

Kerry Washington for Willie! But honestly, I only started thinking about this recently because another book club asked this question. In general, I don’t think in this way while writing as it takes me out of the world I’m creating. 


4. The mother/daughter/ granddaughter bond is striking in this book. Did you know it would be a big part of the story from the beginning?

Yes, I wanted women to carry the story.


5. Willie’s decision to investigate slave history is understandable. Is she trying to salvage the family financially and emotionally?

Definitely. Willie wants to know more about where she comes from, and part of that craving involves a better understanding of the family’s history which, like many African Americans, involves slavery.


6. Paloma is a lovely young daughter and very talented —with chances ahead. Her grandmother, Lourdes, has abilities beyond the life she has led and Willie has given up her opportunities to return home. Do you believe each generation of women garners more choice?

Yes, that’s the hope. With Paloma the reader is left questioning to what extent it is her ambition that has led to her success, or the Forgiveness Act, or a mixture of both.


7. Your novel follows four generations of the Revel family. What is the message about ambition and the past?

I think in many ways our past can fuel our ambition. If you know how much your parents sacrificed for you, it’s hard not to feel like you owe them something in return. Sometimes that can manifest as a drive to succeed on your own terms to make sure their sacrifices were worth it.


8. It is notable that a female president passes the first federal reparations program in your novel. Do you believe this could happen one day?

In the book I wanted to explore what would have to be true for something like the Forgiveness Act to pass. In this case, the President feels she has both a personal and professional responsibility to push it through. In the real world, H.R. 40 needs to pass first, and I am hopeful that one day Congress will pass it.  


9.Willie wakes up in many ways in this story. Did you know this character arc all along?

No, she grew and evolved through several drafts of the story.  


10. You describe the Revel home at 512 Lewaro Street as a ‘phantom limb’ for Lourdes. How did you choose the location?

“Lewaro” is inspired by the name of Madame C. J. Walker’s estate as a symbol of Black wealth.


11. Please tell us some of your favorite authors and why.

Toni Morrison, Percival Everett, Brandon Taylor, George Eliot. Reading them makes me want to be a better writer.


12. What’s next? Are you working on another book?

Yes, I am! But not sharing what it’s about quite yet J I’m also opening a bookstore bar in Brooklyn and this currently takes up a lot of my time!




1 comment

1 Comment

Tô bô ci Chè
Tô bô ci Chè
3 days ago

By exploring this theme, the story seems to be examining the intergenerational dynamics and tensions. slope game

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