What were the odds? Just two months ago I posted my annual list of Books and Authors To Watch for the Year and placed Beverly Jenkins’ new novel, Bring on the Blessings, at number five. At the time, I did not know she was going to be one of the featured authors at the Savannah Book Festival, which means I certainly had no clue I would actually meet her there. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened.
I enjoyed the honor courtesy of Jenkins’ escort for the event, historian and poet Vaughnette Goode-Walker, who dropped by my book exhibition tent and introduced me to the author whose groundbreaking fiction helped establish the genre of African-American historical romance novels. While this was my first time meeting her in person, I felt I already knew Jenkins to some degree through my work as a bookseller years ago when she was one of the few black authors writing romance novels with a distinctly afrocentric twist.
Had it not been for her literary labors––and that of other pioneers like Eboni Snoe, Donna Hill, and Jackie Weger––a sizable contingent of my customers likely would have accused me of cultural negligence and might even have demanded that I write a historical romance or two my self in order to satisfy their passion for the genre. For sparing me the challenge and for adding to my sales goals, Ms. Jenkins was and is for me a true heroine. I was happy to tell her so and also expressed my regret that I had not been able to meet her previously when she visited Savannah with literary critic Gwen Osborne and the Diva Daze Romance Authors Tour.
We did not get a chance to talk long because, like me, she was there on a literary mission and was actually on her way to give a presentation in the exhibition tent across from mine. As we parted, she presented me with the gift of an autographed copy of Bring on the Blessings: “To Aberjhani, Thanks for being one of the blessings in my life. Enjoy!”
Make no mistake about it––I am enjoying it very much.
Causes * Aberjhani Supports
I make contributions to a number of charities through my lenses on Squidoo but the following are a few that interest me the most: