Who Is Rosa?

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People frown on the sound of Southern words, you know. You could be a genius, but say ‘ain’t’ and leave off some letters here and there and they’ll swear you’re a fool.” ~Mrs. Rosa Mae Townsend

“Who is Rosa?” a gentleman asked me during my Faith Beats Fear book event. Throughout the evening I’d displayed “Quotes from Rosa,” and in the book’s introductory notes I share that she is my “part griot, part gossiper.”

Mrs. Rosa Mae “tells it like it is” and will likely remind you of that Grandmother-Auntie-Mother who cares deeply for her family and community. She’s not based on a “real person,” but she has an authentic voice. She’s full of advice and firm about her faith, doling out both whether you ask for it or not!

In the early stages of Faith Beats Fear I struggled with her as my narrator and a character. I’ve never written a book in first person. She speaks with a dialect and I’ve always been taught not to use accents as they’re ‘distracting to the reader.’

Then, one day I hesitantly submitted a script in my screenwriting course that included characters who spoke like real people that I know. My professor’s comments: “You have a great ear.”

So when it came to the short stories in Faith Beats Fear, I listened to Mrs. Rosa Mae. I didn’t always agree with her placement of words, but I chose not to judge her. As a writer, you have to listen to you characters and trust in their story — real or fake.

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll continue to share quotes from the book, so that you get to know Mrs. Rosa Mae. I like her. I hope you will too.

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