Lois Leveen


April 10, 2013

Devil’s Half-Acre

At several points in THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER, Mary refers to "Devil's Half-Acre," the site of Lumpkin's Jail, a public whipping post and slave auction site.
I was honored and awed to be asked to speak at that site on April 6, as part of the Future of Richmond's Past, a citywide commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and Emancipation.

When I arrived at the site, the African American woman I was with -- a Richmond native who spent the day showing me around and discussing the history of the black community -- told me she always feels uncomfortable being in that spot, knowing her own family members were likely bought and sold there. Fifteen minutes later and fifteen yards away, an older white woman came up to tell me she was almost done reading SECRETS for her book club next week. Then she mentioned that she's an officer of the local UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy) chapter, and that they were doing a program on spies in January, and she was glad they could include Mary Bowser. I never imagined the UDC coming to embrace a former slave who spied for the Union. These two women did an amazing job of reminding me of the power of literature.

Here's the talk I gave. Apologies for the ambient noise!

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April 5, 2013

Whose Civil War?  Black History, Women’s History, and the Becker Collection Drawings

Yes, they had photography during the Civil War.

But it wasn't very advanced. As in, it required subjects to hold very, very, very still.

Which is why most Civil War photographs were of dead soldiers.

For "live action," drawing was a better medium. And Reed College is currently displaying some amazing examples from the Becker Collection. I was delighted to give a talk there on Wednesday. Especially because I taught at Reed from 2000-2003.

It was like hearing a Battle Hymn of the Republic/Welcome Back Kotter Theme Song medley, playing along with my PPT.

Becker Collection and Secrets of Mary Bowser

More pix are on www.facebook.com/LoisLeveen

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March 31, 2013

Writer’s Voice Features Mary Bowser

Black History Month and Women's History Month have been busy times for me and Mary Bowser. It was great to finish them off with this wonderful interview with Francesca Rheannon on Writer's Voice, which is broadcast on radio stations throughout the US and Canada.

You can catch the podcast here: http://www.writersvoice.net/2013/03/lois-leveen-eve-laplante/

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March 21, 2013

As If Your Life Depended On It

Why do people read?

Why do people write?

Why do people haul themselves across the country to sit in windowless hotel rooms at a professional conference?

Here's what I told the members of Sigma Tau Delta at the kickoff to their annual conference, March 20, 2013. I hope it answers all 3 questions. Even if the video quality is less than ideal.
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March 8, 2013

Black Past Blast

Blackpast.org is an amazing resource for researching African American history, attracting 250,000 visitors each month. So I'm honored that they've just published "Telling Secrets, Spying Freedom: A Novel Account of Mary Bowser's Civil War Espionage."

The article details a little more about Bowser's life and how I can to write the book, and what I've learned since it was published.
You can read the article here

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