Five things you didn’t know About Grace Johnson from Act of Grace by Karen Simpson
In the first person voice of my character Grace Johnson.
I was not named Grace just because it matches the theme in the book. My author mom, Ms. Simpson, knows I was not named lightly. Family lore has it that along with everything else my parents fiercely argued about what I was to be named. If it had been left up to my mother’s gaudy, soapoperish taste, I would have been christened Diva Rose. A name only a stripper could love or use. My father saved me. He told my mother that he had read that people’s lives proceed from their names the way rivers proceed from their sources. The name Diva Rose was like a creek, while the name Grace was like the Nile. My daddy wanted great things for his first-born. He wanted his girl child to be able to handle responsibility. So he gave me the name of his grandmother because she was the strongest and most spiritually powerful woman he knew.
I am not fat. People, I tell you my size in the first chapter of the novel so all you folks who think I’m tipping the scales at three hundred pounds, please. My author mom should have listened to her friend Sherlonya who told her to make me a size 14 instead of 16, Sherlonya knew that just like appearing on TV, appearing in a novel makes you look heavier than you are. I’m full figured but healthy. I’m not as beautiful as my sister, Jamila but then who else is? I guess I’m ranting about this to get to what’s important because what I look like had nothing to do with the reasons why I took bullets to save the life of that racist, Mr. Gilmore.
Being able to talk to the dead isn’t all cake and candy. The ancestors remind me that I have been given the power to talk to and for them so that I might help others live better lives. This explanation is supposed to be my balm from Gilead. I would be lying though if I said this knowledge completely soothes my soul or makes me feel more whole and less wounded as I try to help other with their problems.
I’m learning to cook. My aunt Peaches is teaching me how to make my favourite dessert, Better Than Sex Cake. It’s this flourless chocolate cake slathered with caramel, topped with cumulus mounds of whipped cream, flakes of toasted coconut, and huge twigs of chocolate shavings. It’s great. Now, I don’t know if it’s better than sex… um at least not yet. Anyway, if you ask my author mom she’ll hook you up with the recipe for the cake.
I am all about my music. If you want to know about me, and why I do things, marinate on some Coltrane because for me it is as he said, “No matter what … it is with God. He is gracious and merciful. His way is through love in which we all are. It is truly – A Love Supreme.”
Karen Simpson is passionate about the craft of writing fiction, the art of quilting, and the discipline of historical research. She received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Husbandry, M.A. in Foreign and International Trade and a M.S. in Historic Preservation. A historic preservationist trained in heritage interpretation and administration, the subjects and themes of her fiction are often taken from the stories she discovers while doing research for museum exhibits. In 2009 Simpson was awarded the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers Grant. She is lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Act of Grace is her first novel.