Claire Fullerton was a recent guest on LA Talk Radio – The Writer’s Block to discuss her new novel, Little Tea. Midway the conversation, her host asked, “When you write, who controls the book, you or your characters?” The presumed answer was the characters. However, Claire, whose previous career was on-air in music radio, answered, “I confess I must be a control freak because I think I’m runnin’ the show. Nobody’s taking over my book, including who I’m writin’ about.”
Claire Fullerton has always considered herself a southerner, though born in Wayzata, Minnesota, and currently living in Malibu, California. When she was ten, her family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. It was where Claire innately watched people and absorbed the music of prolific musicians who flocked to experience the city’s aura and recording opportunities. All the while, Claire was sharpening her writer’s eye. She considers Memphis the last romantic culture on earth.
However, like much of the country, Memphis was experiencing social and cultural changes, and Claire Fullerton was witnessing and taking it in, including the fight for racial equality. It would be some of those memories that she injected into Little Tea.
The story begins with a girls’ getaway at a lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas. Celia, Renny, and Ava, friends since childhood, meet to support Ava, who is having marital problems; however, before the three-day stay is over, Celia will be confronted with demons from her past.
When the time shifts in the novel, there is Little Tea (Thelonia), the daughter in a black family. Her mother is a maid, her father, a foreman, both for the white Wakefield family’s Como, Mississippi cotton farm in the 1980s – Celia’s family. The girls are ten-year-old friends who play together and are often joined by Hayward, Celia’s brother. Innocent and naive, this works well for the three of them, but they grow up… and people have opinions. The past and present come together with Little Tea at the core.
Reviews for Little Tea give an enticing glimpse into the story. Readers are awed by Claire Fullerton’s ability to interpret and depict southern characters in settings that epitomize the beauty of the terrain. Her previous multi-award winning novel, Mourning Dove, is also about a southern family set in Memphis, Tennessee. Excerpts and reviews for all of Claire’s books are on her website.
Visit Claire’s social media and sign up for her newsletter. (Scroll down for the links.) You’ll not only see great pictures of her writer’s life, but her three big German Shepard dogs, too!
Claire, Malibu seems a nice place to land after living in other cities in the U.S and abroad. Like you, I believe I can have an extra dose of inspiration with a daily ocean view! Maybe I’ll get to Malibu on my next California trip (being optimistic). It’s been a looong time since I’ve been to The Golden State. Thank you for the postcard. 🙂