|Washington Street, Nicodemus, Kansas, 1885|
Click here for Author page overview, Gunmen Have No Sabbath: Exodusters Saga ~ Nicodemus, Kansas 1887 Historical fiction of a true town and people. eBook
Excerpt of Gunmen Have No Sabbath
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Author Interview: Gunmen Have No Sabbath: Exodusters Saga by Marlene Banks, © 2012 ~ eBook released May 11, 2014
Welcome to Lane Hill House, Marlene, thank you for your interview! For new readers, would you give us a little information about yourself?
My name is Marlene Banks. I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and am on an endless journey with Jesus The Christ. I am actually a writer of various genres but current known for my historical romance novels. I have always loved writing but entered the professional arena much later than most because I never believed I could have a future in writing. My recent career path has been undoubtedly guided by God and I can’t tell you how it has amazed me! I am certain God has purposed each advance and obstacle I have experienced therefore this is His call all the way. So here I am, a baby boomer with a passion and a mission that are tied to my strong faith, Kingdom service mentality, and a divine destiny. Whew! That’s a seriously unpredictable cocktail and I get to write it all out.
Are you doing on-air programs; if so, where? I loved your discussions with Vanessa Riley. I recognized hearing her voice; so soothing to me.
I will be interviewed by Tiffani Knowles on NEWD Radio’s, The Naked Truth show, August 1st, Check my website and social media pages for details on that and any future activities.
Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading/writing and why is it your favorite?
I enjoy reading and writing many genres for different reasons according to my mood, my needs, or what someone has recommended to me. I often read according to what I’m writing at the time or about to write in lieu of research or as an exercise to tighten up in a particular genre. I also read quite a bit of nonfiction Christian books for spiritual growth. I love to read a good suspense or murder mystery. I also like long historical epic, drag-through-centuries kind of novels. They don’t write many of those anymore. People have much shorter attention spans in the 21st century. They don’t like stories that long, I’m told, but I do. I’m a Ken Follett fan for instance. I think he’s pretty popular. I grew up reading James A. Michener, Leo Tolstoy and Charles Dickens so my attention span for reading is better tuned.
When it comes to writing I like history and have a special fondness for unearthing seldom mentioned facts and events to incorporate them into my novels. Yet I equally enjoy writing humorous contemporary novels or the biblical remakes as I call the stories patterned from a particular Bible account. I enjoy writing a good murder mystery too. I would say the one common thread I keep in practically all my writing regardless to genre is romance. No matter what else is going on there has to be at least a little falling in love somewhere about. I wrote a murder mystery series (which has never been published but I think soon will be) where in the first novel the romance almost took the plot over. I had to pull it back. Since it was going to be a series I knew I could do more with that relationship in future stories. The murder had to be center stage but that romance is a serious backstage subplot. So to answer the question what I enjoy writing about most—it would be romance but in various settings not just plain ole romance. I want it paired with something else engaging. I’m a romantic at heart and maturing into my baby boomer years has not dulled my appreciation of the sweet emotional high, and allure of falling in love.
Can you tell us two or three things that most readers don’t know about you?
It is my goal to finish an epic novel I started working on years ago which will be the pinnacle piece in my list of novels, but not necessarily the end of my fiction writing career. It will be the culmination of most of what I learn since seriously considering writing for a career. I learned a lot because I was extremely rough around the fiction writing edges when I jumped into this arena. God has been good to me putting people in my life that taught and helped me, guided and accepted my work. I am still learning, I hope, and getting better and am thankful for it.
Would you believe I once thought seriously about becoming a licensed mortician?
What five things do you enjoy the most?
Earl Grey Tea (good Earl Grey with lots of Bergamot because not all EG teas are equal)
Dogs: Collies and Rottweiler’s
Reading a good book
Good conversation, that make me laugh. I love to laugh.
A good man (couldn’t leave that one out…smile)
Other than Jesus, if you could meet one person to talk with today, who would you choose?
This is a hard one. There are a lot of people I can think of and narrowing it down to one is difficult. But if pressed I think it might be my great grandmother Singleton. They always said I looked so much like her and acted like her too. I never saw her or met her. She died when I was very young, like before I started kindergarten. She lived in South Carolina. If I did see her at all I must have been an infant and don’t remember. But growing up I remember people constantly telling me I looked and acted like her in mannerisms. I remember for some reason hearing about when she died and thinking I never got to see her. I was just a kid but I thought that. So I would like to talk to her. They said she was an amazing woman and I would like to see for myself. For some reason I never saw a picture of her either, they always said, there are none.
What is your favorite Bible story or Book of the Bible? Do you have a life Scripture verse?
I don’t have one favorite Bible story. So many of them minister to me. As for a life scripture, the one that has stuck to my spirit in recent years is…
Matthew 7:13-14, Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (KJV)
How do you choose the names of your characters? Are some reminiscent of people you know, or who do you pattern them after?
I just pick names randomly. I sometimes chose names that have the sound of the characters personality. Other times I just pick a name I have never used before. It can be tricky not to reuse a name over and over when you write a lot. I intentionally use popular names during that era of historical novels. Names habitually trend in and out and can be regional as well.
If you weren’t an author, what work might you choose to be doing that would be fulfilling for you and others?
Since I am convince I was designed by God to be a writer there is none. Nothing I did prior to writing was ever a fit although I did things well as far as the world was concerned. I could do a job well even if I hated it. And most of my jobs were just that, jobs to make a living. BUT, I’m old school in my work ethic and for me that still meant I did my best and did it with a smile and a good attitude. I was pleasant, responsible, reliable and hardworking in nursing or whatever job I was doing. But until I was writing full time nothing felt like I was doing what I was created to do. Writing fit. It’s what God intended for me all along. Everything about me added up to doing what I am doing now. The other possibility which is probably my next leg of Kingdom service is teaching. That would/will be fulfilling.
Are you researching for a new book?
Yes, I am, for two new novels actually but can’t tell you yet what they will be about. They are very good topics, I’ll say that much.
Also I am currently working on a devotional. This is a totally new kind of writing venture for me. I never thought I would write a devotional but am being spirit led—so I follow.
In July the first of my Bea Happy Romance series, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY is to be released. It’s a contemporary romance with a sassy humorous edge. Very different from my previous four novels. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY is a fun read for the summer.
Please tell us about the featured novel and how you came to write it. Have you visited Nicodemus, Kansas? It would be interesting to go through the town records and talk with people about their ancestry. Do you have a favorite part of the book?
Gunmen Have No Sabbath is a pioneer/western era novel involving four men who live by their guns and their mission in coming to Nicodemus, Kansas. Some years ago I had some vague knowledge about a black town called Nicodemus but I ran across an interesting article about this place when I was researching information about Greenwood District for Son of a Preacherman. I was curious to learn more and looked for details. When I learned Nicodemus still existed I was hooked. The spirit kicked in, the story came to life and before Preacherman was finished Gunmen’s labor pains hit and I began to give birth.
I have yet to get there but visiting Nicodemus, Kansas is certainly on the top part of my bucket list.
Could you please give us the first page?
About Nicodemus, Kansas
This story revolves around a town named Nicodemus which is an actual location in Kansas; the last surviving town that was populated and governed by pioneering African Americans. It is a little known piece of historical Americana which started in the late 1870s. The wave of former slaves settling in Kansas produced approximately six such towns in that state alone on the heels of the South’s Civil War Reconstruction. Only Nicodemus has endured into the 21st century.
Subsequent to the withdrawal of Federal troops in the south, Jim Crow laws gained strength and succeeded to take root in its political and social makeup. Already impoverished freedmen and women became increasingly frustrated. Land grants were being given by the Federal government to settle and plant trees in the plains of the Midwest. The genesis of Nicodemus was the vision of a Caucasian Indiana land developer, W.R. Hill, who along with his African American partner, Reverend W.H. Smith, founded the Nicodemus Town Company in 1877. Other founding officials were Bery Carr and Reverend Simon P. Roundtree.
"I am anxious to reach your state ...because of the sacredness of her soil washed by the blood of humanitarians for the cause of freedom."
S.L. Johnson, black Louisianan in a letter to Kansas Governor John St John, 1879
Hailed as the “Promised Land for coloreds”, and known for being an abolitionist stronghold during the War Between the States, Kansas seemed perfect for weary Negroes craving true citizenship and opportunity to achieve American freedoms. The exodus from the south (primarily but not exclusively Kentucky and Tennessee) brought twenty thousand settlers to the state of Kansas by mid 1880s. The name Exodusters was given to these westward pioneers departing the harsh governance of the south to homestead Kansas. This term referred to the Old Testament biblical account in the book of Exodus where the enslaved Hebrews left Egypt in mass to the Promised Land.
Nicodemus, Kansas 1887
Some people thought he was touched in the head but he didn’t much care about what folks thought or proving them wrong. Others saw him as pure evil and that didn’t bother him either. Mostly when people found out who he was they stayed clear of him. That was just fine and often a source of amusement. He couldn’t afford to worry about what folks thought or why because he wouldn’t be around long enough for it to matter.
Onlookers stared at the man and his horse as both distinctly seized their attention and together they made a remarkable spectacle. In this small Kansas town it was unusual to see such a strikingly handsome man wearing an expensive white shirt and black trousers under a long black overcoat. His fancy gun belt trimmed in silver pulled your eyes to his pearl handle six shooter looming on his hip. Even more out of the ordinary was for the man to be a Negro and a recognized gunman. With his typical arrogance the rider led his mount down Washington Street.
The horse was a fine-looking tannish blonde with a bleached colored mane and tail, equally eye-catching. He was indeed a magnificent beast trotting with the same impressive impudence his rider exhibited. The pair moved unhurriedly viewing the endless blue sky in the distance with early summer prairie grass swaying with the breeze. The scenery was undeniably beautiful.
His ornate saddle was top quality leather but more noticeable for having the rider’s name inscribed across the back. There would be no mistaking he was the infamous Gideon McCoy credited with walking away from twenty-two gunfights leaving his opponents sprawled dead in the dirt.
Where can readers learn more information about you?
Thank you so much for visiting today, Marlene. It has indeed been a pleasure to hear from you. I thoroughly enjoyed your interesting answers ~ I too love to laugh, and Earl Grey is my favorite tea. I have a good man! We were married 30 years on May 19. I love the Lord with all of my heart. My life Scripture is Psalm 119:111 ~ Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House