Saturday, September 21, 2013

Raising Redemption by R. A. Russell: Character Interview and Excerpt


Character Interview with Alicia Tilman the main character from Raising Redemption


If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be? 

My name is Alicia Tilman, and one day I hope to apologize to my father. He told me to stay away from Dickey Samson, but he never told me why. That made me curious -- a little too curious -- and one thing led to another. I was a high-school superstar, admitted to the college of my dreams, and then I found out I was pregnant. That’s when I learned the dark family secret and the reason for my father’s prohibition. I was so smart, and yet so stupid. Worse, I betrayed my father and couldn’t face him. I told him I was sorry in a letter. One day I hope to tell him in person, but first I have to make up for my sins.


What was the scariest moment of your life? 

After I had my baby, I survived by working for an escort service in San Francisco. I went on a date with a professional football player, who threatened to rape me if I didn’t consent to sex. That was the scariest moment of my life. But I stayed calm, and I managed to play him the way he had been trying to play me. The next day I realized I had to go back to school. School was going to be my redemption, a way of making up for past sins.


What makes you happy? 

My son makes me happy. I knew I couldn’t support him when he was born, so I gave him away to a couple who lived in Lake Tahoe. I promised never to interfere, and I don’t. I just like to watch him from a distance. Lake Tahoe is a long drive from San Francisco, but I try to see him as often as possible. He’s a skier, and I learned how to ski so I could watch him doing something he loves. On his tenth birthday, I even got him to ski with me. How did I do that? Well, it’s a long story, but that was one of the best days of my life.


What one word best describes you? 

Complicated. I date men for a living, but I don’t have a man in my life. I’m a busy person, always working, going to school, and tracking my son. I physically gave him away at birth, but I emotionally never gave him up. I also resist intimacy, in part because men look at every part of my body other than the part that counts—my eyes. They’re interested in physical intimacy, and I’m interested in more, but I’m not allowing anyone to get close enough to experience more. I think I’m punishing myself for past sins.


What is something people would be surprised to know about you? 

My fellow students would be shocked to learn that I live and work at an escort service. The men I date in the evening would be shocked to learn that I’m a student during the day. Even more shocking, I suppose, is that I’m good at both.


Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it? 

When I was at home, my grandmother and father always preached that I should stay calm, patient, and strategic when confronting problems. That one piece of advice has saved me on many an occasion, including when I almost got raped.


Family Saga Traces Hardships and Triumphs of Four Generations

Langdon Street Press              
Paperback: $15.95
526 pages, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-62652-041-1
.ePub and .mobi formats: $4.99
May 2013
Available from Amazon.
Genres: Fiction, Family Saga, Multicultural, Women’s Fiction, African-American

Recalling such epic novels as Roots and The Joy Luck Club, R. A. Russell’s sweeping drama chronicles four generations of the Tilman family as they search for the things that will relieve the pain of the past. With its roots in 1975, Raising Redemption is a stirring and provocative story of the shame, secrets, sacrifice and struggle of an African American family who has worked to establish a name synonymous with respect, honor and dignity.
To the Tilman women Ben Tilman was a symbol of redemption: a revered doctor, a loving father and husband; a man who defied all preconceived notions of what a bastard son of a hated man would become. When his teenage daughter Alicia, headed for the Ivies to continue the family’s upward rise, defies her father’s rule to stay away from Dickey Samson, she is unprepared for the consequences that rain down on her: a baby, a near shooting and estrangement. When Alicia discovers that her actions link the Tilmans and Samsons to a dark secret that will now live on through another generation, she runs away. On her own and truly alone, Alicia realizes that success is the only solution to shame, and she struggles to become worthy among the noble Tilman women.
Raising Redemption brings readers on a journey to discover the ultimate gift of love and the true legacy left for the Tilman women to embrace. Chronicling the hardships and triumphs of four generations, Raising Redemption is a sweeping tribute to the salvation we can only find from within.

Praise for Raising Redemption
“… The story of Raising Redemption achieves an epic sweep yet retains an intimate, personal address, with a lively, direct style that will keep you turning the pages. By turns suspenseful and moving, this tale of adversity and triumph — and above all the indomitable power of familial bonds — will inspire many readers.”
    James Morrison, author of Said and Done and Everyday Ghosts
Read Raising Redemption and find out the true meaning of what forgiveness, dignity and respect really means. Author R. A. Russell has penned a powerful novel; powerful story and one that will help readers understand the power of words, love and family. 
-- Fran Lewis, book reviewer and host of Red River Radio’s Writers Live

The Taste of Soil

Mabel Tilman stooped over a wood-burning stove, stirring simmering rice. Shadows crept around her. She lit a kerosene lamp and hobbled to the front door of her three-room shanty, then peered outside as dusk settled on Chesapeake. “Marjorie?” she yelled, searching for her daughter. “Marge?”
Should have been home by now, thought Mabel. Maybe she helping out one of them teachers of hers. She gone be somebody, doing all that homework I can’t help her with no more, all them crazy numbers and letters she got going this way and that in the math she taking. She just like her daddy was, smart as a whip. She grown up, too, already fifteen, and the men done started eyeing her.
Mabel moved back to the stove and eased the pot off the fire. I better get to the outhouse ’fore it get too dark. She grabbed a walking stick and ambled outside, crunching over dried dirt and windblown leaves.
When she returned to her doorstep, Mabel scanned the nearby woods, but she saw only emptiness amongst the trees. Where is that girl? she wondered, stomping off debris. Then she stepped inside and felt the presence of another. She brandished her stick, searching across the room until she found the outline of her daughter cowering in a corner.
“Marge, where you been? I been worried about you, girl. What you doing over there? Come out so I can see you. Come give your mama a hug.”
Marjorie staggered out of the shadows, her eyes cast downward. Mabel squinted at features once clean and sharp, now bloodied and swollen. She bolted for her daughter.
“What happened to you? Your face! Look at these clothes! That blood on this skirt? Oh, my God, no. Oh, no. Oh, Lordy, no! Who did this? Who did it! I said who?”
Mabel waited for an answer, but Marjorie remained mute.
“You ain’t saying, I see. Then I know who. I’m right, ain’t I? It was him, wadn’t it? Tell your mama, or give me a sign.”
Marjorie glanced at her mother and issued a sob.
“I knew it,” screamed Mabel. “That evil, low-down fucker! Lord Almighty, strike the bastard down! Strike him down, Lord. If there’s a God in heaven, strike the good-for-nothing bastard down, down, down, down, down!”
Mabel’s mournful cry pierced the walls and filled the air. The only response: sympathetic howls from neighboring dogs.
Marjorie remained silent as she dried her tears. Gone was the lively spark, the joyful smile, the trademark laughter; now, an expression of shame, regret, and helplessness.
Mabel gathered Marjorie into her arms, attempting to stroke away the pain. She had the horrible feeling that just as she had when pregnant with Marjorie, her baby girl would soon crave the taste of soil.


R. A. Russell is a practicing business-law attorney in Los Angeles and holds degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Harvard Law School. Raising Redemption is Russell’s debut novel.


Twitter:  @RARussellAuthor


Enter for a chance to win a Print or digital copy of Raising Redemption.
Print option is available for shipping to US/CAN.
The Digital option is International.


For additional information, press assets, to schedule an interview with
R. A. Russell and for review copies please contact:
Darlene Chan/ 323.839.2788/


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