Sunday, May 24, 2009
Get to Know Toyi Ward
Getting to Know Toyi Ward, author of Par for the Curse
Why Did I Write this Book?
Par for the Curse is my baby. It is roughly 70,000 words and took me five years to write while managing a full-time career and family. The concept came to me back in 1999, but I didn't start writing the manuscript until 2003. The story follows Stormy Briggs as she attempts to uncover a dark secret in her family, a curse that was put on her great-grandmother over 80 years ago.
So many people are carrying the baggage of their parents and grandparents that I really wanted to write a story that sheds some light on that struggle. The concept of "sins of the father" is a very real thing in our society. Many adults are walking around with the baggage and curses of their parents and grandparents. The complexity of choosing your own path and detouring from the family you love strikes an emotional chord for people. Some take that path, others keep passing the bags to their children and it starts all over again.
Stormy and Me
I had quite a difficult time developing the character, Stormy, for Par for the Curse. I wanted her to be real, meaning that she was to be flawed, admired, and suffer an internal conflict along with the plot conflict. She's complex, not unlike myself, which made it more challenging to write her. She's a very strong-minded woman who always viewed herself as a polar opposite from the other women in her family. She was educated. Intelligence was her claim to fame in the family.
Not unlike me, growing up around exceptionally beautiful women cast a shadow on Stormy's realization of her own beauty. She doesn't think she's unattractive but she didn't see herself as "car-stopping" beautiful, like the others. I've always said that I am the ugly duckling of my family. That's how Stormy feels, too.
There are several references in the book where people believe that Stormy and Riley are twins. They look nearly identical because their mothers are sisters and their fathers are twin brothers. Where I'm from, we call that "double kin". However, she never thinks of herself as being beautiful like Riley or Lourdes. Instead she considers herself smarter than they are. It's her consolation prize. So, when she ends up in a "situation" no different than than the others, her perception of self is challenged. Is she really that different from the others or did it take a while for the curse to catch up with her?
About the Book
Stormy has grown up with the warning that she is cursed. Raised in a family of eight women with twenty-four husbands among them, she has managed to escape the family’s legacy thus far. Things begin to change once she is given the details concerning a hex that was cast upon her great grandmother over eighty years ago.
Managing the antics of her adulteress young cousin, Riley, exhausts Stormy. Comforting the heartbreak of her older cousin Lourdes, angers her. After a devastating turn of events on par with her birthright, Stormy decides to seek a remedy for the family’s plight. She travels to New Orleans determined to find answers. Along the way she faces a quilt of obstacles and a set of choices that challenge her reality. Will she reveal the information or continue playing the hand she was dealt by an angry young woman in the Bayou?
Par for the Curse reveals the influence of voodoo and the impact of generational secrets on family, life, and love.
Purchase Par for the Curse to read Stormy and her family's story.
Follow the Par for the Curse Blog Tour schedule at http://bitly.com/ParfortheCurse.