Author Talk: Choosing Grace | Regina Jamison in conversation with Anne Shade
Time & Location
About the Event
Sky Valentine is a young, African American woman who lives in Durham, North Carolina, and she is tired of being boxed in by small minds and southern expectations. To escape the restraints of her southern upbringing, Sky flees to Rhode Island to attend college. While attending Roger Williams University, she works not only on her degree, but she also works on shedding many of the things that peg her as a southerner.
At university, Sky rooms with sexy, vibrant Zenobia whom she ultimately falls head over heels in love with solidifying what she had felt in her heart all along--she loved women. But their affair is brief and interrupted by Zenobia's sudden departure from Roger Williams.
When college is completed, Sky returns home to her domineering mother--who has promised her hand in marriage to a rich and arrogant man--her loving but docile father, and to her big brother who is satisfied with keeping the status quo. But it is 1986, and Sky is determined to live her own life, so she gathers her courage, leaves the groom at the altar, and moves to New York City, the Bronx, where she has acquired a teaching job and an apartment.
In the Bronx, Sky runs into a childhood friend, Ola, who had moved to the area after leaving elementary school in Durham. An invite to Ola's party puts Sky in contact with Grace Webster and it is love at first sight. But there is turmoil between the two which is exacerbated by Sky's "would be" husband's stalking and continued obsession with her. This is amplified by the pressure Sky feels to come out to her family and friends back in Durham.
During these turbulent times, Zenobia comes back into Sky's life. Sky is then faced with the choice of finishing what she started with Zenobia years ago, or choosing to fight for the relationship she is building with her new love, Grace.
Regina Jamison lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is a Lambda Literary 2014 Fellow. She received her MFA from the City College of New York. Her poetry has appeared in several literary journals among them are, Switchgrass Review, Sinister Wisdom: Black Lesbians We Are the Revolution, Five Two One Magazine, Magma Literary Journal: Deaf Issue, The Americas Poetry Festival of New York Anthology 2016, Promethean Literary Journal, Off the Rocks: An Anthology of GLBT Writing Vols. 14 & 15, and Poetry in Performance Journal Vol. 43. Online, her poetry has appeared in Castle of Our Skin: Black Poet Miniature Challenge, Gnashing Teeth Journal, Silver Birch Press – Me as a Child Series, The Lake Literary Journal, and Mom Egg Review. Her poems will also appear in the upcoming issue of BAM 42 Stories. You can read her new essay in the Bronx Memoir Project Vol. 5 Anthology. Her short stories have appeared in In This Together: Stories of Romance & Survival During the Pandemic, Girls Who Bite: Vampire Lesbian Anthology, Zane’s Purple Panties, and the Lambda Literary Anthology: Gaslight. She was a Guest Editor for Gnashing Teeth Publishing’s anthology, SHE: Seen. Heard. Engaged. Her first novel, Choosing Grace, was published with Bella Books.
Anne Shade loves writing stories about women who love women featuring strong, beautiful BIPOC characters. Anne is the author of four novels under Bold Strokes Books, Femme Tales, queered retellings of three classic fairytales and short-listed for a 2021 Lambda Literary Award, Masquerade, a roaring 20s romance, Love and Lotus Blossoms, a coming of age, and coming out story, and Her Heat’s Desire, a coming out love story. Anne has also collaborated with Editor Victoria Villasenor for the Bold Strokes Books anthology, In Our Words: Queer Stories from Black, Indigenous and People of Color.