Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Presidential diarist and author Janis F. Kearney transforms civil rights legend Daisy Gatson Bates’ life from black and white, to living color. The author, who interviewed Bates many times; recreates her conversations and interviews to “fill in” places left un-filled, and colors incidents and experiences, to bring Daisy Bates to life. Kearney plums the mysterious murder of Bates’ mother, and the orphan’s childhood; the young woman’s prophetic decision to share a traveling salesman’s life; her non-traditional role as co-publisher of an award winning newspaper; and her leadership role at a time, and place where women rarely led.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place is Daisy’s “look back” at her life, and…finally, a self-analysis of how, and possibly, why she became the Daisy Gatson Bates for which she is known throughout the world. Author Janis F. Kearney recounts the leader’s many friendships, relationships and associations that helps define who she was in the eyes of the world - from Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton; First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.; Roy Wilson, NAACP President; Thurgood Marshall and Wiley Branton, NAACP attorneys, Maya Angelou and Jackie Robinson… and countless others.
The author met Daisy Bates in the summer of 1969, at the age of16. From that moment, the high school student dreamed of working for the woman her father called one of Arkansas’ greatest leaders – black or white.
"Thank you to Janis F. Kearney for shedding a critical light on an often forgotten civil rights heroine. Daisy Bates was a woman who refused to be defined by society's rules on both race and place in America. An often controversial figure, Bates lived life on her own terms, for which she paid dearly. She was an American hero who loved her country for all its greatness; but courageously proclaimed it could and should be better." ~Sharon La Cruise, Producer
In the author's words . . .
About me...I love being a southerner, and writing about the south. I am a doting grandmother and mother. I have 16 siblings, though there were 19 of us in all. My parents were sharecroppers, so I grew up chopping cotton in the summers, and picking cotton in the fall and winters. I began writing very early in life and never stopped - even during the handful of other jobs I have held. Writing is my passion, my career and my life. I can't imagine doing anything else in life, though I once thought I wanted to be a missionary or teacher.
My favorite non-writing past time is reading. Probably too closely connected to be called non-writing. I also love to travel and learn about new cultures.
My book is a story of an imperfect, but courageous and passionate woman, who was able to turn her childhood tragedies into triumph.
My favorite `scene' in Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, is Daisy's time in New York, where she has traveled to write her memoirs. It is an exciting and exhilirating time for her, but also a very scary time...because for the first time in her life, she is forced to try to figure out who she really is; to look into a mirror.
What inspired the book? Knowing Daisy inspired me to write her book. I met her when I was 16 years old, and she made such a strong impression on me that one of my greatest dreams was to work with her one day. That dream came true when I went to work as her managing editor at her newspaper, then purchasing the newspaper when she retired.
Research for Daisy: Between a Rock and a hard Place: A great deal of research went into writing the book on Daisy Bates. Thankfully, there is quite a bit of material available. it was a matter of going through it and selecting material and documents that lent themselves to the story I wanted to write. I also relied on personal interviews, other books written on her; oral histories and Daisy's memoir written in 1962.
My greatest pleasure in writing this book was learning so much more about Daisy Bates than I knew. I have done research and made presentations on Daisy Bates throughout the years; but, it was not until I began my research for this book that I learned some of the intricate details about her life and family. It was fascinating and gave me a whole new respect for this woman with such a tragic childhood, who morphed into an amazing leader.
I love diversity...and writing in more than one genre is a testament to that. I think it is like using one part of your brain for science and the other side for English. My creative side is helpful no matter what genre I'm writing. Research, while critical in nonfiction, also helps lend credibility to nonfiction. I read all genres, so I think that helps me be able to dabble in various genres in my writing.
Reading is free...but what an investment!
Author Janis F. Kearney
Janis F. Kearney is a publisher, author, and oral historian. She was one of 19 children born to Arkansas Delta Sharecroppers T.J. and Ethel Kearney. She Graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.A., in Journalism, and completed 30 hours in public administration, and Journalism.
She was hired by Daisy Bates in 1987 as Managing Editor of the Arkansas State Press. In 1988, she purchased the newspaper. She served as Personal Diarist to President Clinton from 1995 to 2001. She was the country’s first personal diarist to a U.S. President, and during that time, she also served as White House liaison to the U.S. National Archives.
In 2001, Janis moved with her husband Bob Nash to Chicago, where she began her writing life. In 2003, Janis, with her husband’s support, founded Writing our World Press/WOW! Books in 2003. Her first book, Cotton Field of Dreams: A Memoir was published in 2004. Her other books include Something to Write Home About: Memories of a Presidential Diarist; Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton…from Hope to Harlem; and Once Upon a Time there was a Girl: a Murder at Mobile Bay, her first fiction. WOW! Books has also published two other authors. Her next book, Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, is scheduled for publication, December 2012. Her third memoir, Sundays with TJ: 100 years of Memories on Varner Road, and her second Once Upon a Time there was a Girl murder mystery are both slated for publication in Spring, 2013.
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