SPECIAL GUEST: Kim Robinson, author of THE ROUX IN THE GUMBO

We have a special guest here at The Writer's Life! Kim Robinson, author of The Roux in the Gumbo is stopping off here on her virtual book tour!

We usually do interviews here, but today I'd like to give you a glimpse into what The Roux in the Gumbo is about by posting an excerpt of the book instead. I think this speaks more than any interview could.

Kim is a remarkable person in her own right.

She was born in raised in Compton, California, and is a survivor. She is a motivational speaker, sometimes bringing the crowd to tears with her moving personal accounts detailing the background of her life.

The Roux in the Gumbo is an emotional and inspirational look into the lives of a family that opens their door and hearts on every page. Spanning the years between 1800 to 1997, The Roux in the Gumbo’s story is told through one of the main characters before her passing; the remainder is accompanied by the memories of family members and friends.

Based in Louisiana, with all its flair and Southern culture, it describes the experiences throughout history, contributing to the shaping of generations. In spite of the obstacles and struggles that llife brought their way, these characters persevered with unity, love and laughter, due to a strong familial support system that carries universal appeal.

And this is from the pages of The Roux in the Gumbo by Kim Robinson...

Gizelle welcomed the feel of the cool sheets against her skin. She crawled exhausted into her bed, naked as always during the humid summer. As Gizelle slept, her subconscious took her back to a night twenty years ago in 1850. She was twelve years old and alone in the middle of the night. Scared, tired, hungry, and sick, she sat crying and shivering under a huge magnolia tree in driving rain, deep in the bayou near Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Gizelle decided to sit and wait. Surely, one of the water moccasins or some deadly spider would put her out of her misery. No matter what, she was not going back to the plantation.

Before Gizelle was old enough to be weaned, she had been wrenched from her mother’s breast and sold to the Sunrise Plantation. They should have called it the Graveyard because so many slaves were buried there. They worked clearing the bayous so the boats could navigate through the waters to bring in materials to build plantation homes and slave quarters. They also brought in seed and supplies to cultivate the fields of cotton, rice, and sugar cane; anything that was agriculturally profitable.

The overseers did not allow slaves who labored in the fetid water to get out as they watched others pulled under by the alligators. If the poisonous snakes and spiders did not kill them, the elements would. They worked regardless of rain or snow. Those who fell ill were left on the bank to die. The owners could always buy more slaves.

During the epidemics, cholera and yellow fever laid claim to many. Hundreds expired from colds, croup or the many diseases that thrived in the swampy water. The soles of their feet split open from the fungus brought on by standing in dirty water for too long. They bound their feet with bandages but without proper treatment, the cuts developed gangrene. The limbs were amputated. Cripples sat in pirogues to transfer the debris from the water to the bank. A slave was lucky to make it through a year working at Sunrise.

Gizelle’s dark skin dictated that by the age of four she was sent to the fields to pick cotton. When she was nine years old, the overseer gave her a gift. He raped her. He had been doing so for three years now. He had very strange and unnatural desires, and she could not take it anymore. She would prefer death to the tortured existence she was living.

Each time lightning brightened the sky, Gizelle prayed for God to end her life. Finally, the storm passed. She gathered Spanish moss from the trees and made a pallet. She closed her eyes, hoping they would never again open.

“Cher, Cher, Wake up chile! What are you doing here? Get up Cher you are soaking wet. Come with me. Open your eyes,” the voice said.

Gizelle heard the words but did not want to open her eyes. She did not want to be alive. Maybe God was a woman, or maybe he was busy and had sent an angel for her. She peeked out with one eye. Nope it was not God; God did not have long white hair that hung down to his waist. She opened the other eye and looked into eyes that looked like a cat, colored a greenish-gray. Her face was soft with what seemed to be concern. No one had ever looked at Gizelle with such kindness.

“Can you stand, Cher? Are you hurt?” The woman touched Gizelle’s forehead and found it burning with fever. “You poor chile, you come with Tallulah; I will make you better,” she said.

Gizelle rose shakily to her feet and leaned against the strange woman. Tallulah was the tallest woman she had ever seen. When Gizelle got dizzy and could not walk, Tallulah carried her.

Tallulah took her to a cabin built three feet above the ground alongside a creek, allowing the water to flow under rather than through the house when the water was high. It was a cozy habitat.

Three large rooms were more than adequate for Tallulah. One, a large inviting kitchen kept warm by the stove where she prepared her food. Another was the bedroom, which boasted a four-poster bed with night tables and an armoire that covered an entire wall. The custom furniture would have done any mansion proud. The last room had a massive desk on one wall.

The other three walls were bookshelves, overflowing with books and mementos of her life. The collection of Indian and French artifacts spoke volumes about Tallulah’s heritage.

Gizelle dreamt that someone removed her wet clothes and placed her in a large metal basin filled with lavender scented water that had been warmed in a teakettle that sat on the top of a big pot-bellied stove. Her hair was gently washed and braided. She was spooned hot soup; the tastiest she had ever eaten, nothing like the slop at Sunrise. The woman held a cup for her so she could sip delicious honey-sweetened herb tea. It soothed and warmed her from the inside out.

When she was out of the tub, Gizelle’s body was rubbed down with oils that made her skin feel smooth and soft like a baby. The towel was soft, like freshly ginned and cleaned cotton. She wondered if she was dreaming, or maybe this was heaven. Wherever she was, this was where she wanted to be.

Gizelle awoke in the comfort of a soft feather mattress. This must be how the people in the big house slept, she thought. She was afraid that if she moved, her surroundings would disappear and she would find herself back on the floor of her cabin. Tallulah warmed the sheets by filling a bottle with hot water and rolling it between them. The quilt smelled as if it were filled with fragrant flowers. She drifted back to sleep.

###

For more information on Kim, please visit http://www.kim-robinson.com/. You can pick up your copy of The Roux in the Gumbo at Amazon.

TAGS: , , , ,
Powered by Blogger.