Book Spotlight: Daughter of the Sun by Clayton W. Oliver

Intimate Conversation with author Clayton W. Oliver

Ella: Clayton tell us about you and your journey?
My name is Clayton W. Oliver (there are at least one other author by that name), author of the "Pharaoh's Clan" series, volume one "Daughter of the Sun." I was raised in East Baltimore where after high school I entered the U. S. Army 82nd airborne division. When my service ended I returned to Baltimore to raise a family and to further my education. I attended a trade school to learn to drive semi-tractor and trailer trucks to support my household and then once employed I attended night college for 17 years to receive my AA, BS, and 46 MPA credits from the University of Baltimore.

Sitting here re-reading my synopsis of my life I realize there's a great deal of living missing from the story.

Whenever a person tries to explain their success or achievements to this point within their lives we must realize there are great and ultimately important gaps missing that would explain the "who," "what" and "why's" that occurs to get them to this point. I'll try to sum it up for me like this: I've been lucky! Not lucky in the sense that I was discovered by someone to have some special talent for hand-to-eye coordination in placing a ball through a basket, or swinging a bat to hit a ball, or even the ability to aim a weapon at a target with accuracy or the military would have kept me.

I was lucky to have extraordinary common sense and people around me throughout periods of my life who recognized that I was someone they could share their life experiences with and that I would take heed and learn from them--no matter their status in life.

I was lucky enough to understand that "voice" within my head and my heart that warned me of danger and wrong-going and I heeded that warning (for the most part). I was lucky in that I learned at an early age to lead or step aside but not to follow unless I believe enough in the cause and the leader of the cause to allow myself to be led. I think back to so many of my friends and peers, both male and females who were lost. Lost because they made the wrong decisions in life that cost them their lives either through incarceration, murder, or drugs, or simply following the wrong leaders. I've been lucky!

Ella: Please finish this sentence for me- I am powerful because...
I am powerful because I am an independent thinker. I may allow others to make their arguments for a specific idea but I make up my own mind and I do my own research to discover my truths. I learned at an early age to not follow the group, or to buy into the "group-think" mentality. I stand separate from the group, making my own decisions, charting my own path. When someone yells fire in the theator I don't rush out with the crowd but stand back and access the situation to find a better route out or choose not to flee at all.

My way may not prove to be the most successful means of achieving my goals but I accept the consequences of my own choices and do not allow my life to be manipulated by the decisions of others. I couldn't live my life say "doing life" in prison because I allowed a so-called friend to talk me into an arm robbery. I already know I couldn't do that kind of "stupid time" so I don't allow myself to be put into that situation. Therefore I am powerful because I refuse to allow someone else to have authority over my life's decisions.

Ella: Why is it important to celebrate Black History 365 days a year?
For Black people it's important at this time and place to reaffirm within us that we are more than just physical beings capable of dribbling a basketball, or running through a line of heavily padded men trying to stop us. Competition is fine but we're a cerebral people too. We're capable of magnificent achievements of the mind. I mean think of the dedication it took Doctor Carver to experiment with peanuts that empowered others to think, "Wow...if he can do all of that with a peanut what could we do with other plants, organic and inorganic materials?" And now we have plastics, and cell phones, miracle drugs.

I take some artistic leisure with the historical facts but my finer point is that creativity should not be subjected to a limited set of goals. We're not all meant to be Michael Jordan, we may be meant to be a Doctor Ben Cardin, world renowned neurosurgeon or a Clayton Oliver that's driven millions of miles of American highway delivering goods to thousands of people safely. Black history, 365 days should celebrate all our achievements and make us aware of who we are truly to ourselves.

Ella: How did you start writing? What types of books do you like?
I started my writing journey in college when I had a professor who would not accept a substandard term paper from me--or any student for that matter. I can't recall his name at this writing although I can see his face just as clear as I can see my own. I have this saying, "Not everything Black is my Brother and not everything White is my enemy." And that essentially means that there have been influential Whites in my life who have corrected me on my path in life despite the fact they weren't obligated to do so. I always hated English it was one of my worst subjects in High School but this man recognized my determination to succeed and earn my degree and he challenged me in a subject area that he was not obligated to help me achieve in.

The lessons I learned from that gentleman have been utilized repeatedly throughout my life. What he shared with me was the "power of the pen" and what it meant within his world (White America) and the respect that comes from being able to use the written word to express one's self. Now I only started to write the "Pharaoh's Clan" in the summer of 2002 when I decided I needed a serious career change other than driving a truck for a living. I had always been an avid reader. I find I'm incapable of sitting for prolong periods without having something to read to occupy my idle time.

And I love to read mainstream fiction such as works by Tom Clancy, W.E.B. Griffin, and I began to realize two things in my reading that became clear to me. One: there was very little action adventure being written by Black authors. With the exception of Ms. Octavia Butler, I still have discovered very little written works by Black authors in the mainstream fiction genre. Two: there's very little if any written works with female leads or heroines. Those I could find usually relied on some male lead for support and I thought this rather odd as the women I've encountered within my life were nothing like the women I read of within these books. The Black women I grew up with and that I'm accustomed to were fighters in their own right not these victims within the books I was reading.

Ella: Who are your two main characters and what do you like most about them?
Doctors Deidra Jones is my main character and Doctor Choe Lee Chang is my main supporting character. What I most like about these two women are that they are fiercely independent and have a strong sense of their self-worth. Deidra is the product of a mixed black/white marriage and she's had to struggle with the fact that she's neither one or the other in a world where people are judged first by their appearances and then by their potential.

With Choe Lee, being Deidra's senior by some years, the struggle has been more gender based--she's had to break through the glass ceiling and make a reputation for herself within the "Good Ole Boy" system that sought to keep her from career advancement. They both are successful bio-researchers with the CDC in Atlanta Georgia who now find themselves facing the greatest challenge to face any "Man" let alone two ordinary women. They must become werewolf fighters.

Ella: What do you want you readers to gain from your work?
What I want readers (young women especially) to gain from my books are that they too can achieve extraordinary goals against extraordinary odds if they believe in themselves and not allow some other to define who they are and what their worth. Both Deidra and Choe Lee are chosen to confront obstacles that they themselves were not trained to handle but confront them they do because that's how they have always lived their lives. They have always stepped up to the challenge and they did not allow someone else to determine what they could or could not achieve.

On a broader note the entertainment industry needs to pay more attention to how they portray our young women in the media arts. Women are rarely seen as the heroes or the leads in a role unless she's more manly than the men within a role. I believe women can be the lead and still be a woman and not some helpless airhead victim that can't scream and run from the monster at the same time or that has to have some man with a "really big gun" come to her rescue. There have been some strides taken to remedy the situation like Halle as Storm in the X-Men, or as the Catwoman, and Cherlize as Aerion Flux, Mila kicking butts in Resident Evil, but it's a sad commentary that the most recognizable and reoccurring American action hero for women in the movies is a man in drag i.e. Tyler Perry's Madea.

Ella: What advice would you give a new writer?
When I initially wrote the "Pharaoh's Clan" it was titled, "The Pharaoh's Clan, The Lycanthrope Wars" and it had at its center a plot that glorified a male soldier that had to save the world from werewolves. Yeah I know--boring. When it was rejected repeatedly I had to do some soul searching and I listen to that inner voice that had served me so much throughout my life and it asked me the question: "Would you buy this?" What I came to understand is that writing is a business.

And unless you can somehow pay for everything yourself with you own money you have to create a product that other people would want to purchase. As a writer I came to realize that "I" (because I wanted control) had to from the front cover to the back create a product that was marketable. I therefore went back to the drawing board, discarded all the crap from the story and recognized a niche in the market for a Black action adventure writer and the need for female heroines.

Whether this proves to be reasonable revisions remains to seen but I did it my way--the way I wanted it done. I produced this entire novel with the exception of the cover and the model for which I searched extensively until I found someone with the talent I wanted to represent the cover art and Mr. Tood F. Jerde of IMagus Digital Fine Art hit it right on the head with his first attempt. This total package is mine and God's to succeed or to fail on and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Clayton W. Oliver author,owner
Four Deuces Entertainment
The "Pharaoh's Clan" Series, "Daughter of the Sun"
P.O. Box 2542
Covington, GA. 30015

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