Storytelling is a shared experience; everybody loves a good story. The Wildcatter Exchange, a Fort Worth nonprofit, offers opportunities to interact with creators and the creative spirit.
On Oct. 28, Wildcatters hosts A Conversation and Reading, featuring a debut novel from North Texas author Sanderia Faye. Faye will read from The Mourner’s Bench at The Live Oak Music Hall in Fort Worth at 7 p.m. After the reading, Tammy Gomez will lead a discussion with Sanderia, followed by a book-signing. An award-winning poet and playwright, Gomez has over 20 years’ experience producing, directing, and hosting literary performance events.
The Mourner’s Bench takes place in Maeby, Ark., in 1964. Eight-year-old Sarah Jones feels it is time to take responsibility for her own sins. When a revival comes to The First Baptist Church, Sarah plans to take her place on the mourner’s bench and prepare to give her testimony. The novel is a story of a young girl coming to terms with religion, racism, and feminism while navigating early adolescence.
Faye says the novel emerged from an in-class writing prompt: Write a story you’ve heard before, but you are not sure if it is true or false.
“After I read what I had scribbled on the pages to the class, we spent the remainder of the class discussing the civil rights movement and the role young people played in it,” Faye says. She started researching Arkansas’ role in the civil rights movement.
Among several real historical figures depicted in Mourner’s Bench are Daisy Bates, a civil rights activist who led the “Little Rock Nine” in the integration of Little Rock Central High School; John Walker, a civil rights lawyer; and Carrie Dilworth, who was an officer for the racial egalitarian Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union in the 1930s.
Sanderia Faye is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas, Dallas.