Novelist Lalita Tademy pens the story of a once-enslaved man and his granddaughter set in Oklahoma

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on September 21, 2014

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Best-selling author Lalita Tademy is the first to admit that she’s not one of those novelists who can churn out a book once a year — or even every other year. The former high tech executive, first profiled on InMenlo in 2010, hit the best seller list first with Cane River in 2001 and then Red River in 2007.

“Each of my books takes three or four years to research and write,” says Lita, as she is known. “My latest, Citizens Creek: A Novel, will finally be ready for release by Simon & Schuster on November 4.”

Like her two earlier novels, Citizens Creek is based on a real family. But in a departure, it’s not Lita’s family. “It’s  a multigenerational American saga based on two extraordinary (and real) characters, a slave in Alabama with a great talent for languages and his granddaughter who carves out her own legacy in Oklahoma,” explains the author.  “I stumbled upon the story about a slave sold to a Creek Indian chief, and by the time of the Civil War, he’d bought his freedom and was the first black Creek Indian.”

Lita will be at her home town book store, Kepler’s, for the Nov. 4 launch but is asking her loyal readers to order the book in advance of publication. “New books in today’s literary sales environment live or die by pre-orders, which become first week sales, akin to the importance of opening weekend for films,” she says. “In order for these stories to be heard and to get visibility in a crowded market, new books have to get off to a fast start. That’s why I’m turning to my fans.”

Currently, she’s halfway to the 3,000 hardback goal. Citizens Creek has been named November’s Indie Next Pick by the American Booksellers Association and One Book One South by the Southern Independent Booksellers

Lita views writing as a job. “Even if I’m emotionally tied to the work, when it gets down to it, it’s a job and you have to apply discipline. There was a little more freedom in writing the third book as I wasn’t worried about what someone might think about my own family [portrayed in the first two books].

“To me, writing is satisfying but I don’t find it fun. What is satisfying is the end product. It’s important to me because these are such forgotten stories. I believe it’s important to keep them alive and to bring them to people who wouldn’t ordinarily come across them.”

Citizens Creek can be pre-ordered online.

Photo by Irene Searles

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