I hadn’t yet figured out how to think and act outside the confines of the world that shaped me.
It took eight years after graduating from college for me to break out and pursue writing.
When Denmark Vesey, a free black man with messianic charisma, plots a dangerous slave insurrection in the heart of Charleston, Handful becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens to shake the city to its foundations.
Inspired by actual historical figures like Sarah and Angelina Grimké and Denmark Vesey, and enlivened by original creations like Charlotte and Handful, The Invention of Wings is the extraordinary story of two struggles for freedom: the battle of Handful to find the wings her mother promised and the equally intense quest of Sarah to liberate her mind and spirit.
Today, that reminds me a little of Sarah, who also had failures of courage and who was sometimes slow to take her leap.
When I headed to college, I studied nursing, a noble profession, but it wasn’t my place of belonging.How does creating a character from the ground up differ from adapting a real person into a fictional persona, and which do you find more challenging? When I first began writing in her voice, the only parameters I gave myself were that I didn’t want her voice to be weighed down with dialect and it must have traces of humor.One of the more unexpected things I experienced in writing the novel was that Handful’s character and voice came to me with more ease than Sarah’s. I’d read a great many first person slave narratives from the nineteenth century, as well as the Federal Writers’ Project of the 1930s, and I had the voices of African-American women from my own childhood still resonating in me, along with the those of the quilting women of Gee’s Bend, but I think what made Handful so accessible to me was her free, unrestricted reign in my imagination.Introduction to The Invention of Wings The Invention of Wings, a powerful and sweeping historical novel by Sue Monk Kidd, begins, fittingly, with an image of flight: Hetty “Handful”, who has grown up as a slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, recalls the night her mother told her that her ancestors in Africa could fly over trees and clouds.That day, Handful’s mother, Charlotte, gave her daughter the gift of hope— the possibility that someday she might regain her wings and fly to freedom.