Athena Lark is the author of the greatly anticipated debut novel, Avenue of Palms. She graduated from the University of California at Riverside, where she received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts. She has been published in; the Literary Journals, Gently Read Literature, Hippo Reads and Whistling Fire, the Florida Times Union newspaper, Jacksonville Business Journal, Jacksonville Advocate, the Albany Herald, UNF Spinnaker, and UNF Alumni Magazine. She is currently writing her memoir, Sailor Girl about her life in the U. S. Navy.
BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?
I was inspired to write Avenue of Palms, when I visited an old slave plantation in Jacksonville, FL. As I walked through one of the slave cabins, I felt a presence, and then saw a vision. Sitting in a rocking chair, in front of the large fire place, was an old slave woman. She was crying, as she sewed on a quilt. The vision left just as quickly as it appeared. My heart felt very heavy, as I thought about the trials and tribulations the people who lived in the cabin had to endure. I began to cry uncontrollably, mindless of the tourists standing outside the cabin. After gaining some self-control, I thought about writing a book about the woman in front of the fire. Here name would be Violet.
BPM: Does your upbringing, prior relationships or life experiences inspire your writing?
A great deal of my life experiences inspired my writing. My career in the U.S. Navy gave me vast amounts of inspiration to develop characters, plots, and dialogue.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven?
I’ve always been a lover of books, since my early childhood. My book ideas come mainly from observing things around me, and studying my history.
BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What genre do you consider your book? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?
My research of African American history helped me enormously in writing Avenue of Palms. Although the book is a work of fiction, there are some actual facts which laid the foundation. Kinglsey Plantation was once a very profitable venture, for the white owner and his African wife. The dynamics of the odd couple helped me to develop my characters in the book. Avenue of Palms is more than just another slave story.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special? What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Violet Kingsley, the protagonist is a strong willed, courageous, and loving woman and mother. Her journey from Africa, through the Middle Passage, and finally to the shores of Kingsley Plantation, and beyond is a tale of struggle, empowerment, revelations, and redemption. Writing the book has confirmed the importance of knowing one’s history. Currently the novel is not available in digital forms.
BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Many writers define success by the number of accolades the book receives, such as a good review by the NY Times. However, to me true success is when a reader lets me know how much they enjoyed the novel, and how Violet lingers with them, far after the last page is read. It would be ideal if Avenue of Palms was picked up by a traditional publishing company. I’ve been told Avenue of Palms would make a great movie. If that were to happen it would be a dream come true. I’m also in the process of writing my memoir, Sailor Girl.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
For more on the novel, check out my website at http://www.athenalark.com. Also, the cinematic book trailer on YouTube is wonderfully produced: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oxB0i8rNl4
Purchase Avenue of Palms by Athena Lark