Richard Doster: Focused on Fiction, Civil Rights and The South
- Thursday, August 13, 2009
Were you involved in the integration of schools?
For the most part, I was too young. But I do remember standing outside on the sidewalk of my junior high school in Central Florida when the black kids were bussed in for the first time. I remember standing outside to watch.
Was that the germ?
It might have been, but I think it was watered and fertilized in Atlanta—a city where race is a more visible and prominent issue.
You’ve spoken about the hope for people to have a dialogue. Is there anything else you hope people will take away from Crossing the Lines?
I want people to enjoy the book. I want to be a good writer and have people enjoy the experience, and I hope I have put together something good enough to draw them into the story. I care about the aesthetic quality of the work. Beyond that, I hope people will take away the story of it, as well as the pervasive nature of the civil rights nature of the unselfishness of what it means to us.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the early leaders of that movement loved white people. What they set out to do was not merely win rights for black people. They met to change people, to renew institutions, to come against “powers and authorities.” King knew that as long as one person was mistreated, the entire system was unjust.
There’s an episode of the book where John Lewis and John Nash are jailed for sitting in at a Nashville lunch counter. They don’t have room for them in the jail, so the police tell them to post bail. They refuse. The police lowered the bail to $5 and still they refuse. Their goal wasn’t to get out of jail. Their goal was to change an unjust system. By paying the $5, they knew that they were contributing to the system. To have paid the fine would have been to recognize the law, which was unjust. And they weren’t going to participate in that system. It wasn’t, “I want my rights.” It was, “We must change the entirety of the way this system works.”
What is your next book?
I’m about 50,000 words into a book that is much different from my first two. It’s not race related. It deals with the use of gifts, the use of fame and what we do with talent and celebrity and thinking through the reasons those things exist. It’s the story of a young woman who becomes a pop music star, from being a high school girlfriend of the football player in a small town in the North Georgia mountains. She is thinking about what that means and why she has that ability, and as kids look at her and want her autograph and want to be close to her, she has to think why this happens and what she should do with it.
Click here to read an excerpt from Crossing the Lines.
Richard Doster is the editor of byFaith magazine. To learn more about Richard and Crossing the Lines, please visit www.richarddoster.com or www.davidccook.com.
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