Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: Once in a Blood Moon by Dorothea Hubble Bonneau @DorotheaBonneau @RABTBookTours

Southern Historical
Date Published: June 11, 2020
Publisher: Acorn Publishing

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Heaven Hill Plantation, upriver from Georgetown, South Carolina, 1807: Sixteen-year-old Alexandra Degambia is the daughter of a wealthy African American planter and a social-climbing mother who can pass for white. Balancing on the tightrope between girlhood and the complicated adult world of Low-Country society is a treacherous undertaking.

Early Reviews

Alexandra is a tenacious heroine who’s easy to root for, and the author elegantly articulates her precarious position between white and black society. Overall, this novel explores issues of equality and personal freedom in thought-provoking ways.

Sharp writing, an original plot, and a strong female protagonist make for an engrossing read.
-Kirkus Review

This tale of desperation, injustice and courage is a much needed addition to our grasp of our nation's history. A 5-star reading experience. Highly recommend!"
Laura Taylor – 6-Time Romantic Times Award Winner

Interview with Dorothea Hubble

    For those of you interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?
For those interested in an in-depth understanding of the African American experience in the United States of America, I recommend traveling to the southern states and investigating tours and museums. I suggest contacting Gullah Heritage and Educational Outreach, which will put you in touch with Dr. Emory Campbell’s mind-opening research that reframes America’s historical perspective to include the African American experience.
Resources I relied on for writing Once in a Blood Moon include:
Bagdon, Robert Joseph. “Musical Life in Charleston, South Carolina from 1732 to 1776 as Recorded in Colonial Sources.: Ph.D. diss., University of Miami, 1978.
Banat, Gabriel. The Chevalier de Saint Georges. (New York: Pendragon Press (2006).
Baum, Robert M. Shrines of the Slave Trade: Diola Religion and Society in Precolonial Senegambia, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
Berlin, Ira, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (New York: Vintage Books, 1974).
Bland Jr., Sterling Lacater. African American Slave Narratives. Westport,Connecticut; London: South Carolina Press, 2001.
Blassingame, John W. Slave Testimony. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State y University Press, 2003.
Brockington, Lee G. Plantation Between the Waters. Charleston S.C.: The History Press, 2006.
Dugan, W.T. The Story of a White Slave. Emporia, Kansas: The Emporia Gazette, 1901.
Green, Harlan & Harry Hutchins Jr. (2004) Slave Badges and the Slave-Hire System in Charleston, S.C. 1783-1865. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc, 2004.
Horton, James Oliver & Lois E. Horton. Slavery and the Making of America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Katz, William Loren. Black Indians. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks, January 3, 2012.
Koger, Larry. Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina. University of South Carolina: South Carolina Press, 1995.
Lause, Mark A. “Borderland Visions: Maroons and Outliers in Early American History”: Monthly Review, Vol. 54. No. 4., 2002.
Linford, Scott V. “Stories of Differentiation and Association: Narrative Identity and the Jola Ekonting.” Yearbook for Traditonal Music, January 1, 2016.
Littlefield, Daniel C. Rice and Slaves. Urbana and Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1981.
Lockley, Timothy James. Maroon Communities in South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina: The University of South Carolina Press, 2011.
Maillard, Kevin Noble. “Slaves in the Family: Testamentary Freedom and Interracial Deviance” College of Law Faculty—Scholarship. 76. http://surface.syr.edu/lawpub/76., 2012.
Milanich, Jerald. First Encounters Spanish Exploration in the Caribbean and the United States: 1492-1570, 1989.
Myers, Amrita Chakrabarti. Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston. Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, August 1, 2014.
Reynolds, Rita. Wealthy Free Women of Color in Charleston, South Carolina during Slavery, A dissertation: Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2007.
Stoudemire, Sterling. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, The University of North Carolina Press, 1979.

    How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

    I was inspired to write Once in a Blood Moon when I learned that African American slaves risked their lives to help my ancestor, John Fowler, to escape from the slave quarters in South Carolina around the year 1807. John had two brothers and three sisters at the time his family moved from North Carolina to South Carolina. Soon after they moved, his father took ill and died. From John’s biography, “The Story of the White Slave,” published by W.T. Dugan in 1906 in the Emporia, Kansas Gazette:

    According to the law of those days governing a family of this kind, orphans or half orphans were bound out to anyone who would take them.

    (John)was taken by a brute in human form. From the very first he was treated as a common slave. Placed side by side with his dark-skinned human brother chattel, he must toil from morn to night without joy in his past or hope for his future.

    He made friends and confidants of his dark-skinned fellow laborers and conspirators. Plans were laid, schemes thought up, and many whispered conferences in the darkness of the night were held for his freedom that he might rejoin his mother.”

    After John made his escape, he walked one hundred miles to his mother’s home in Greensborough, North Carolina. There was no official underground railroad at the time, but slaves and abolitionists helped John along the way.

    John Fowler was my ancestor.

    What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

    My primary goals were: to celebrate the slaves who risked their lives to help my white ancestor by demonstrating their wisdom, bravery and capacity for compassion; and to honor the life of my late son, Dr. Gregory James Fisk (June 11,1969-January 15, 2005) whose life and character empowered this novel.

As for myself, I leave it to readers of Once in a Blood Moon to determine if I’ve achieved my goals. For myself, this project feels complete.

    Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

    Fifteen years ago, I was teaching drama, speech/ debate and English in an inner-city school. It broke my heart to know many of my African American students believed the only contributions their ancestors made in America was through slave labor. I longed to provide a broader backdrop, and I discovered it.

    I discovered was West African’s knowledge of rice cultivation that contributed to the wealth that built this nation—five centuries of trial and error and correction that resulted in 200 varieties of rice strains created to respond to variations in weather and soil conditions, African’s knowledge that helped create the wealth that built this country.

    I also learned that Lucas Vasquez d’Ayllon gained permission from Charles V to create a colony for Spain in what is now South Carolina, or perhaps Georgia. He sailed from Hispaniola with five hundred colonists and one hundred slaves. Soon after creating San Miguel de Gualdape, D’Ayllon died. When cruel slave masters took his place, the slaves united with First Nation Natives and forced the Spanish who had not died from illness to flee back to Hispaniola. The Africans’ quest for freedom coupled with their ability to unite with the Cofitachiqui for the common cause of forcing their captors to flee is a demonstration of will, courage and the ability to collaborate.

    These are just two of the fascinating facts that emerged about the African American experience. I hope our schools will reframe history to include African American and First Nation narratives.

    My intention is that Once in a Blood Moon will demonstrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s imperative that all humans should be judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.


Another tidbit: five years into writing this book, I had my DNA evaluated. I learned my primary match is with Lumbee Indians, a triracial community living in North Carolina. I was delighted to learn I had chosen to write about ancestors I had never met.

    What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

    I loved researching and learning about how African Americans and First Nation people blessed this country with their wisdom, fortitude and ability to work together for the common good

    Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

    I will be writing articles and stories that help to reframe the American narrative to include the heritage of African American and First Nation peoples.

    I’ve also starting my first memoir, Dfthegenius, which is about my journey with my son Dave Fisk, who had Down syndrome.

    How long have you been writing?

    I started writing when I was nine years old. My first effort was a stage play of Little Women, a story I fell in love with. Jo awakened me to my desire to be a writer. To this day, Madame Alexandra doll of JO has a seat of honor on my writing desk.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Once in a Blood Moon?

    The protagonist of Once in a Blood Moon, Alexandra Degambia, is the sixteen-year-old African American daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. Caught between her father’s desire to honor the memory of his Gambian ancestors and her mother’s ambitions to ascend the social ladder of free people of color. Alexandra decides to forge her own path and become a famous musician. She assumes her talent and her family’s wealth will ensure her success. Then her father is murdered and her mother dies. Powerful men want to seize the plantation, but Alexandra, the legitimate heiress, stands in the way. Worlds she never knew existed open up to her when she flees for her life. Alexandra is inventive, daring, intelligent and, sometimes, too impetuous.

    Lulu is Alexandra’s servant. Born days apart, she and Lulu were suckled by the same wet nurse. They played together until they turned ten years old, at which time Alexandra’s mother commanded Alexandra to treat Lulu like the slave she was born to be. Lulu is gorgeous, articulate, clever and, at times, self-serving.

    Born on a prosperous plantation in Martinique, Alexandra’s mother, Josephine, is the daughter of a white mother and mixed-race father. Josephine and her mother fled when the British captured Martinique from the French and murdered her father. She grew up with relatives in Charleston, South Carolina. Both she and her uncle believed she was white…until she came of age to marry and fell in love.

    Josephine is witty, bright, beautiful and snobbish.

    Ajamat, Alexandra’s father is proud of his Diola heritage. His ancestors combined forces with Cofitachiqui natives and forced their Spanish captors to flee back to Hispaniola, in the year 1526. Ajamat is brave, cunning, loyal and stubborn.

    When Alexandra is sold into slavery and placed in the slave coffle, she befriends John Fowler, a ten-year-old indenture who comes from an abolitionist family.

    John is empathetic, creative, loyal and naïve.

    If you could spend the day with one of the characters from Once in a Blood Moon, who would it be? Please tell us why you chose this particular character, where you would go and what you would do.

    If I could spend the day with one character from Once in a Blood Moon, I would spend it with Alexandra at fourteen years of age. At this time, Alexandra is still permitted to visit her father, who lives in a Gambia-style village with Diola friends and relatives on the southern edge of Heaven Hill plantation. I would encourage her to bring her violin, and we would follow the path from her mother’s big house to her father’s earthen dwelling, which smells of sage and lavender.

    On the way, we’d stop in the Diola sacred forest. Alexandra’s father has permitted her to create a spirit shrine there, and one of our favorite things to do is to bring a feather and rock that has caught our eye and place it in the growing concentric rings that circle the gardenia plant given to her by her grandmother three days before she died.

    We would pick herbs and call the forest spirits we invented when we were children. We would go down to the tributary of the canal and race boats made of leaves and feathers. Then we would go to our special tree, an ancient cypress, and lie on our backs on sweet grass and tell each other three secrets. I would beg her to play her violin, and she would play her favorite piece composed by Le Chevalier de Saint George, who some people call the Black Mozart. We would eat the peaches we brought in our knapsacks and drink from our gourds filled with fruit flavored water.

    When we arrived, Mamou, her aunt, would take us into her story cave and tell us about Alexandra’s ancestors who lived on the banks of the Gambia River. Mamou would offer us sweet tea and shrimp cakes. We would say thank you and eat until it felled our stomachs would pop.

    Fireflies blinking on and off would signal the coming of night. The big fire in the hank, that’s what Diola call the village square, would be lit. Drummers would start drumming and someone would play the ekonting. The dancing would begin. We would throw our arms toward the sky, and dance until Mamou came and told us she was sorry Alexandra’s father was in Georgetown sending off a shipment of rice to somewhere in Europe. I didn’t mind. Alexandra’s father always scared me a little. Mamou would give us each a river pearl for our collections, and we would make our way back to the big house.

About the Author

Dorothea Hubble Bonneau is an award-winning novelist, produced playwright and optioned screenwriter. Inspired by a quest for justice, her work is informed by her love of family, nature, and the literary arts.

Dorothea is a member of Author’s Guild, Women in Film, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Aspen Summer Words Alumni, and Historical Writers of America.

Contact Links

Twitter: @DorotheaBonneau

Purchase Links

RABT Book Tours & PR


Anonymous said...

Thank you for hosting!