Molly Walling, Greg Lilly, Bonny Gable and Bob McKinney have new books available.
Molly Walling’s new book, “For Simon: A Journey into Truth and Reconciliation” is sequel to her first book, “Death in the Delta.” “For Simon” follows an African American family, that of Simon Toombs, introduced in her 2012 memoir. There she exposed a long-held family secret that Toombs died at the hands of her father and uncles. At that time, she thought her quest for knowledge and understanding had come to an end.
Six months later Walling was contacted by Toombs’s great-great-grandson, Gregory Woods, who was preparing to launch his career as a reporter for the ABC affiliate in Charleston, South Carolina. Woods revealed to her that Toombs had a daughter, Virginia, living in Los Angeles. Not only that but her husband had been raised by the cook on the plantation where Walling’s father grew up.
Walling followed Woods’s reportage of such horrific racially violent events as the death of Walter Scott and the massacre at the A.M.E Church in Charleston. She developed a deep connection to Toombs’s descendants.
This multigenerational story does not end in defeat, but rather speaks to the strength, resilience and deep faith that contributes to survival in African American families.
Greg Lilly’s newest juvenile novella, “The Shadow Wolf,” is a sequel to last year’s “The Wolf Crystal,” Virginia Highlands Festival’s immersive theater project. “The Shadow Wolf” is book two of “The Tales of the Abingdon Wolves” series, a mash-up of local legends and juvenile fantasy.
“The ‘Tales of the Abingdon Wolves’ series developed as part of the Virginia Highlands Festival last year,” Lilly says. Becky Caldwell, executive director of the festival, guided the development of the project of immersive theater featuring puppets, live dance, drones, and interactive sculpture. “We needed a story as a framework for the entire production. I wrote the tale of Abbi, a wolf pup, and her friends searching for the stolen Crystal and that book was published in June of last year,” Lilly says. Set in Abingdon, the books use the Daniel Boone and Wolf Cave legends while incorporating local locations and regional history.
The books are illustrated by Marie and Brian Bridgeforth of Bridgeforth Design Studio in Bristol. “Brian and Marie were part of last summer’s team and did an incredible job with illustrations. I engaged them again for the new book,” Lilly adds.
In the latest tale, Abbi and her friends see the Wolf Crystal is losing strength. Something is draining its power. The story shows how working as a team, even with former adversaries, can be valuable to achieving a mutual goal. “Division isn’t the answer,” Lilly says, “Abbi realizes that bringing together her friends, and her not-so-much friends, extends their abilities and their chances to save the Crystal.”
Bonny Gable’s “Who Will Hear Begonia?” is written for 4-8-year-olds to help them understand Alzheimer’s disease. Gable’s mother suffered from the disease, which inspired her to write this book to help children.
When Nana’s memory illness steals her beautiful smile, Emma and Kara try all sorts of antics to bring it back. Their dachshund Begonia tries to tell them how, but no one pays attention. Only after the girls begin to listen, and everyone works together can they recapture that smile.
They discover that while Nana’s mind works differently than before, her love for them was never lost.
This entertaining yet touching story helps children cope with the confusion, disappointment or fear they may experience watching a loved one struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. They learn that despite changes the illness brings, their connection to that person through love remains the same.
Begonia’s repeated pleas to help eventually lead to the rewarding solution, showing that small voices can have big ideas and highlighting the importance of listening.
Gable donates a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation.
Bob McKinney of Sugar Grove has written an epic novel about the Civil War in the region: “The Ebony Soldiers: A Novel of the American Civil War and the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry.” The novel brings together stories of a runaway slave Benjamin from Lee County who joins the colored cavalry, his wife Ellen and their children who were sold to a slave trader, an Irish immigrant Patrick who joins the Union army, and an English woman who volunteers as an army nurse.
The final action takes place at Saltville, Virginia, during what has become known as the “Saltville Massacre” where between 25 and 125 African-American soldiers were murdered in cold blood by a renegade named Champ Ferguson.
All historical persons and events are accurately depicted, and all fictional characters and events are based on actual events and people. The dialogue of the historical characters has been taken from their diaries and letters. This book is a too-rare look at the bravery shown by the more than 180,000 men of color (and their white officers) who fought with great bravery, often defying the hostility of their fellow soldiers and sure death if captured by Confederates.
McKinney has had a varied career as a Coast Guardsman, aircraft navigator, U.S Forest Service interpretive specialist, forest fire fighter and professional writer. He wrote reviews of Barter Theatre’s productions for the Bristol Herald Courier’s for many years and is the author of “If You Like Us, Talk About Us: The Life and Times of Robert H. Porterfield, the Founder of Virginia’s World-Famous Barter Theatre.”
These books are available on Amazon.