Becoming an author was always a dream for Bonnie Glover, but she went to law school first to make sure she could earn a living.
After earning her law degree at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida, she never actually practiced law. After passing the bar and working in the legal field, she said, she satisfied her curiosity about how some defendants went free while others received jail sentences after committing the same crimes.
A similar sense of wonder led to her landing a two-book deal with publishing giant Random House. An online friendship with a fellow writer living in Calcutta, India, led to an introduction to his agent, which led to a request for a manuscript, which led to the publishing of her first novel, The Middle Sister, in 2005 and of Going Down South, in 2008.
Glover’s foray into the land of outstanding literature has her up for an NAACP Image Award in that category next month for her second novel.
The NAACP Image Awards is the nation’s premier event celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, according to its website, which states that the event is celebrating its 40th year.
“I was thrilled to hear that Bonnie was being recognized by the NAACP Image Awards for Going Down South,’’ said her publicist, Tonya Seavers Evans. “She works very hard to bring the untold stories of African Americans and their heritage to life through her writing.’’
Going Down South chronicles the story of a 15-year-old girl who gets pregnant, and is sent away from her home in New York to her grandmother’s farm in Alabama to have the baby. There, her grandmother proceeds to lay down the law: the teenager’s mother must live there, too.
Now under one little roof in the 1960s Deep South, three generations of spirited, proud women are forced to live together. And as long-guarded truths emerge, a child is born with the power to turn these virtual strangers into a real, honest-to-goodness family.
Glover, 47, of Davie, told the South Florida Times that she cried when she learned she had been nominated for the award. While perusing the NAACP website in search of her name among the list of nominees, she said she was prepared not to find it.
She told herself, “You know if you’re not up there, you can’t be carrying on.”
The wife and mother of two sons said she gave herself permission to “cry a couple of tears,” but forbade a lengthy pity party because she had things to do.
“You haven’t even cooked dinner yet,” Glover said she reminded herself.
Her preparation was for naught. “I saw it and I really started crying then. God is good.”
What she saw was that her novel, Going Down South, had been nominated for Outstanding Literary Work in the fiction category.
The other nominees are: Blood Colony: A Novel by former Miami Herald reporter Tananarive Due; In the Night of the Heat: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel by actor Blair Underwood, Tananarive
Due, and Due’s husband, Steven Barnes; Just Too Good to Be True by E. Lynn Harris and Song Yet Sung by James McBride.
The self-described “ghetto girl” from East New York said being nominated is a “marvelous feeling. I feel I’m in great company. Maybe my work is making a difference.”
The difference Glover speaks of is not limited to the pages of her book. Since its summer release, she has been invited to speak to teenage girls at several South Florida schools.
Going Down South apparently resonates deeply with educators and school administrators searching for solutions to the stubborn problem of teenage pregnancy, a central theme in the book.
While her first book, The Middle Sister, grew from a short story she’d written, Going Down South was born of a need to address what Glover referred to as the “epidemic in our community,” adding, “And it’s an epidemic of not just teen pregnancies, but STD’s.”
Glover said she wants the young women she encounters to know their choices.
“We talk to them about the choices they make. I talk to them about where I came from, what it is I wanted. How I might have had a boyfriend, but how I was determined that I was not going to have a baby. You don’t have to,” Glover said.
She said the responsibility belongs to everyone.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily just the school’s job or just the parents’ job, it’s everybody in the community helping. And if I can go in and talk about my experiences, maybe that might make an impact. I sure enjoy it,” she added.
Glover said the types of questions she receives at the school gatherings can be shocking, but she welcomes them all.
“There’s an epidemic of oral STDs and anal STDs in our public schools and we have to do something. The traditional ways are not working, so frank talk about what it is you want in life and how you can be stopped from getting it by your behaviors in life [is necessary].”
Of the NAACP nomination, Glover said “I’m still pinching myself.”
She said she is looking forward to connecting with a good childhood friend now living in Marina del Rey, California, when she travels to that state for the luncheon and awards ceremony.
Delighted in each other’s success, Glover said they frequently reflect on where they’re from, where they are and where they’re going.
“Look at us ghetto girls; look at us making some strides.”
The NAACP Image Awards will air live on Feb. 12, 2009 at 8 p.m. on Fox. For more information on Glover’s books or to contact her, visit her website at www.bonnieglover.com. For more information about the NAACP Image Awards, log onto http://www.naacpimageawards.net/40/index.php.