It’s not often that an artist lets others in on their creative process, but Joshilyn Jackson is an exception.
For two years, she has taken us through her reflections on writing a novel in City Lights’ segment, “Writer to Reader.” That novel, “The Almost Sisters,” was published in July.
The book centers around “nerd-famous” comic book artist Leia who becomes pregnant after a tryst with a man in Batman cosplay at a convention.
Before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her stepsister’s seemingly perfect marriage implodes.
“The idea of the book was origin stories. Superheroes all have an origin stories. You’ll also notice there are a lot of nods to Faulkner’s 'A Rose for Emily' in this book — those are my literary origins," Jackson told City Lights' host Lois Reitzes.
"And then I look at my own family history. My origins are my ancestors were a slave-holding family, a family of slaves and a family of very destitute white sharecroppers, which is sort of the whole spectrum of the South that comes together in this one small town," Jackson said.
Jackson said she “tried to stay in [her] lane” while navigating the sensitive topics of race.
“I don’t think I have any business trying to write about the black experience of being southern,” she said. “I do write outside of my experience — you have to. I think novel writing is nothing if not the practice of empathy. So you do have to step outside of your comfort zone.”
Jackson will speak about “The Almost Sisters” on Saturday, Sept. 2 at the Decatur Book Festival.