Khali LaBre breaks down for us the origin of the characters and the story of Scribe: A Novel. Here are some questions and answers she gives us about the novel.
Where did you get the inspiration for Scribe?
Scribe came to me back in 2018 while writing a short story in the Creative Writing class that I was in at The University of South Florida. We were asked to write a chapter and, boom, Scribe was born. The way that the story flows was inspired by the way Zora Neale Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God, and I mixed in the repetitious rhythm of Jamaica Kincaid’s Mr. Potter. I was raised in Orlando, Florida, so most of the locations that are cited throughout the novel are real places, although some places aren’t around anymore, and some are fictitious. Checker Park, for example, is a real location.
Why did you stick to using the African American Vernacular in this story?
I had to stay true to my culture, and what I was exposed to while coming up in Orlando. Most of the people I came up around in Orlando spoke in AAVE and we would code switch when necessary, such as in a professional setting. AAVE is my native dialect, and I wanted the reader to get the feeling of being in the shoes of someone who speaks with that dialect. I also wrote this story for those of us who already speak in AAVE. I could have written this book in Standard English if I wanted to, but the story would come off as bland and inauthentic, so for the folks who prefer books written in Standard English, I have some projects lined up for the next few years that you might like, although I’ve never received a complaint about the way Scribe was written.
Who are the main characters, and where did they come from?
Demetri “Meechi” Joseph is the protagonist of the story. Scribe is written in three parts that explain different phases in Meechi’s life. I actually got that idea from the movie, Moonlight, and how it broke down the main character’s, Chiron, life in three stages. Meechi has to learn to stop being a bystander in his life and learn to take control of it, along with acknowledging his trauma. He uses his magical writing powers to write things into existence to happen in his favor but soon learns that he needs to be specific because sometimes things happen in his favor although it looks like a catastrophe, but it’s for his best interest.
Trenton is that friend I feel that most people have that are completely whimsical. Trenton is a wise character although he battles his schizophrenia throughout most of the story. I wanted to showcase Trenton in a way, for us who are neurodivergent, to show that our illnesses do not define us. Having a mental illness does not make you dumb, it just causes you to have to live your life differently from others to stay as mentally stable as possible. You can be philosophical and reasonable despite your mental illness. I was rooting for Trent the whole time I was writing this book!
Miss Viv is my most favorite character in the book! She’s extremely intuitive and knows things that Meechi doesn’t think she does. I was inspired to write Miss Viv’s character based on several older women, including my late Grandma Emma who always said “I’m hangin’, but not so high!” whenever you’d ask her how she was doing. I grew up being around older women for much of my childhood, so that snappy Southern belle energy is where I pulled her energy from. I was also inspired by the Oracle from the Matrix for Miss Viv’s ability to detect things in the future.
Sheila is Meechi’s toxic mother. Meechi’s initial downward spiral in life is the result of Sheila. Years after Meechi finally leaves her and goes without talking to her or stopping by to see her, she has t reconcile with herself and God to try to make changes in her life, but she soon learns that it doesn’t pay to be ugly. We all carry some sort of trauma from something that someone has done to us, but that doesn’t mean we have to treat others the way that we have been treated, and that it what Sheila has to learn in this story.
Porscha is Meechi’s heartbeat. Porscha is a woman who became homeless after suffering a mental breakdown from her Major Depressive Disorder. She makes money at the bus station by playing her guitar and singing for the people walking by. She and Meechi’s connection is overwhelmingly magical. I’ll let you read the rest.
When does Scribe come out?
Scribe will be published and released on 11/24/2022, Thanksgiving Day, via major ebook retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple Books. Scribe will be released in paperback through Amazon, through Lemons & Gold Publishing LLC! This will give you something good to read while you’re digesting all that food!