Reason by Victoria Elaine Jones
Things done in the dark don’t just come to light; they come to Reason. The horrific news of the murder-suicide that orphaned eight-year-old, Jean, sent the town into a panic, and separated best friends, Jean and Sincere. No one questioned Jean’s sudden disappearance after she was found beside her Daddy’s body and covered in his blood. Sincere, too, lost herself that fateful day and was left to be raised by Mama Kinney, who has been hiding the depths of her own emotional wounds.
Everyone in the town moved on, or so they thought, until Miranda, a woman with a striking resemblance to Jean, moves into Reason, pulling the stitches out of a septic wound and stepping into it. Miranda is hell-bent on revenge and finally meting out justice to all who deserve. The town will have to revisit the cataclysmic events of that tragic day and accept punishment for their roles, however minor they may seem.
Sincere might be the only one with the power and knowledge to soothe Miranda’s blood thirst, but Sincere has her own demons to conquer. Will she stop Miranda in time, or will Miranda send Reason into shock, and leave with blood on her hands, again?
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Intimate Conversation with Victoria Elaine Jones
Victoria Elaine Jones is a writer, lawyer, and mother living in Dallas, Texas. Her poetry has been published in several magazines and anthologies. Reason is her debut novel.
BPM: How did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you?
I am the product of so many people’s love and assistance, it’s not even funny. I’ve had teachers and community members and agencies and friends who took a personal interest in my life from day one. I actually acknowledge two of them in this novel, Ms. Lenigan, whose first name I never knew, and Ms. Logan, with whom I still have a close relationship. Ms. Lenigan was the student teacher in my 3rd grade class, but she was the first person ever to encourage me to write. That was important because at the time she knew me, my home life was really tumultuous and there wasn’t a lot of support. My regular teacher only saw me as this student who missed a bunch of school and never turned in assignments, but it was wonderful to have this teacher take a personal interest in me. I never saw her again, wouldn’t know how to track her down if I wanted to, but I said that to remind everyone of the impact a teacher can have on a child, and of the need to sometimes see what’s below the surface. Some children seem like problem kids but they really just need a little extra love. And then Ms. Logan was the first person to introduce me to feminism, although we talk sometimes about how my feminism has evolved and distinguished itself from her, but she wonderfully was willing to bring her own passions to a class of 6th grade kids.
BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to? Do you consider authors as role models?
I have been in love with Toni Morrison since I was maybe 12 years old. I think I read Song of Solomon first, and I just fell in love. I enjoy how she’s able to contain multiple stories in one, while still creating a consistent narrative. She makes each character distinguishable and interesting, without detracting from the main character. When I was in middle school, about the time I discovered feminism, I started reading everything I could find by her, Richard Wright, Anais Nin was my secret pleasure, sooooo many romance novels, Gabrielle Garcia Marquez, Charles Beautillaire, who was it who wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, there were such wonderful stories in books! My mom had no clue that I was living in this very adult world, and she could never punish me because you can’t really take away books from kids.
BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?
My writing is character-driven. And I have no idea where the ideas come from, they always feel to me as if they just are. Like, they exist independent of me, these are real stories, real people. I’m just transcribing their lives.
BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this?
These characters had been living in my head for so long. I was glad to get them on paper and leave a little space for some other people to take root and grow.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character-driven? Why?
Reason is a revenge novel, really. It’s all about justice, about community justice and how sometimes we get it right, sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes we judge people based on what we know and we’re not wrong, exactly, we’re just ignorant. In Reason, the town acts on their limited knowledge and their actions harm a little girl. The girl acts on her limited knowledge and harms someone else. Everyone in the town has little bits and pieces of knowledge, and they’re all trying to do what they believe is right, but they’re all also acting in a way that harms others, too. So I guess it’s also about how we treat one another, and how we protect ourselves.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special?
Each of the characters in Reason has an entire backstory that is the foundation of why they do what they do. Some of them, I tell you their backstory. But many of them, you just have to wonder. Maybe in the next book… But what I hope is that my readers, they might not like a person, they might not agree with what they do, but I hope they will understand things from that character’s perspective and consider whether they might not do the same, given the same information.
BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
Of course there are! Reason has everything that is me, so while there are some issues of race and gender, there are also themes of sexual orientation, religion, and inter-generational considerations.
BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation, education, spiritual practice or journey?
So my writing is where I really get to be me, and where I get to bring all the conflicting parts of me together. I define myself as a fiscally-conservative, religiously-conservative radical leftist liberal Black feminist. So as you might imagine, different parts of me are constantly at war with others. My writing gives me the opportunity to explore all of those different facets without judgment, to let them confront each other. Sometimes I learn things about myself in my writing. So when I finished Reason, for example, I started thinking maybe I have some issues with religion that I need to resolve, because I tend in this book to portay a stark contrast between religion and “true religion.” Of all the characters in the book, there is one woman, Lady, that I think has the truest sense of religion and yet she’s living in a house with several men with whom she has ongoing sexual relations!
BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book? Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
I didn’t really spend a lot of time researching Reason. In truth, when Reason happened it just poured out of me. I couldn’t stop it, I was writing 20, 30 pages every night. I was in law school at the time, and I was like a robot. Every answer I gave was exact, because I spent all my time in my head writing. Ironically, my friends at the time all said I sounded brilliant when I spoke in class, and people would come to me asking me to explain stuff, but I had no idea what I said. All I could think about was Reason, I was living in the town and dealing with the characters all the time. There wasn’t any time to slow down and actually go research anything.
BPM: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
My goals in writing Reason were simple. Truth is, I’d write it if there was no audience. The characters deserve a platform, they deserve to be written, and so I did. No motives involved, just to give them their due.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
Right now I’m writing A Thin Line, my next book. It actually predates Reason and takes place very nearby, and there are a couple of characters from Reason whose backstories get explored in A Thin Line. I’m utterly in love with one of the characters, would totally marry another, hate-love a third, I want to comfort and hold a fourth, and the fifth one, I just think she’s stupid. I wonder how I’ll feel about them all when it’s finished!
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Well, right now I’m on tour with Reason. People who want to know more should visit my website at www.victoriaelainejones.com and sign up for the mailing list, so they can be in the know when new things happen. And if you’ve already bought the book for yourself, buy a copy for your best friend.
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