Tell us a bit about yourself, Jacequeline.I am the youngest of five girls. Since my three older sisters were practically adults when I was born, I like to say I grew up with four mothers (three of whom saw their mothering jobs toward me as gift-giving, fun-producing, non-disciplinary supporters). As a result of the gap between my oldest sister and me, I was born an aunt and have several nieces very close to my age. It made those years very loving and very special for me. So it’s easy to see, I think, why I’ve always been quite family oriented. But a miraculous event last year elevated my love for family to a new plateau. On October 4, 2013, after four and a half decades of marriage, my husband and I were blessed with a granddaughter, Eden Selah. I thought I knew what love was, but oh my!
Oh, I love music and singing too, Jacqueline. Actually, I enjoy all those things you mentioned, especially a good story. Speaking of good stories, congratulations on your new release! What is your novel about?Thank you. Other than the birth of Eden Selah, the release of A Most Precious Gift is perhaps the most exciting moment in my memory.
A gifted cabinetmaker, Jonathan Mayfield has staked his future on a commission to furnish a bedroom at Riverwood. With the help of his cherished free status, he hopes the job will secure him not only as a skilled carpenter but as a capable businessman among the wealthy Natchez planters, a dream that has held him captive for years—until in an instant a beautiful new slave girl destroys his freedom papers along with his fragile confidence.
What happens between the two of them when they are unexpectedly assigned to work together to redecorate the room at Riverwood drives the plot, while unraveling old emotional baggage under which they both labor becomes the theme for what is able to save them.
Sounds like such an interesting read. Where did you get the inspiration for your story?I love wandering in and out of the many palatial antebellum homes in Natchez. As an African American born and reared in Mississippi, it’s impossible for me not to ponder and imagine the lives of the house slaves whose ghosts haunt my mind each time I visit one of the mansions. This particular story gets its inspiration from Melrose, one of the well-maintained homes owned by the United States National Park Service. It is perhaps my favorite dwelling among the elite circle of pre-Civil War planters known as the Natchez nabobs.
Oh, I'd so enjoy visiting some of those palatial homes. I'm sure they are a treasure-trove of history and story ideas. Do you have a favorite scene in the book? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?A rather difficult question, but I think my favorite scene is the one where Jonathan, deathly ill, has a dream or out-of-body experience, if you will. Here he has the opportunity to inquire of the Lord, whom he immediately recognizes as such, about the things that are trying his soul. The constant and beautiful color changes of the Lord’s eyes identify him as the maker of all mankind, and his clear explanation of what is needed to become truly free marks a critical turning point for Jonathan who, until that moment, had always seen freedom as the papers pinned to his vest.
That sounds like a very heart-moving scene. Thanks for telling us about it. What do you plan to work on next?Actually, I have several completed novels waiting in the wings, one of which is called A Flapper for a Day. The work is set in 1924 (thus the “flapper” reference) on a famous street in Jackson, Mississippi which was once an enclave for wealthy African Americans. I’m also considering a sequel to A Most Precious Gift based on two secondary but strong personalities in the book.
Ooo, those both sound like fun. :)
Where can readers connect with you? Where can they buy your book?I would love to connect with readers via any of the following: email@example.com; on Facebook via Jacqueline Freeman Wheelock, author; on Twitter via @JFWheelock; or via website, www.sidengo.com/jacquelinefreemanwheelock.
Thanks for the info. Last but not least, apart from writing, what is your favorite creative outlet?Other than writing, I would have to say that crocheting is my favorite creative outlet, with sporadic redecorating as a close, close second. Crochet definitely outstripped decorating last year as I crocheted numerous blankets and a special dress for Eden Selah.
I'm sure your granddaughter will come to treasure those special gifts. Thanks so much for sharing with us about yourself and your story, Jacqueline. I hope A Most Precious Gift touches the hearts of many readers.
(Remember, commenters will be entered in a drawing for an ebook version of A Most Precious Gift. The winner will be announced in the Weekly Wind-up on Monday and must contact us to claim their prize. Thanks so much for dropping by.)