Tademy was born in Berkeley, California, far from her parents southern
roots. Nonetheless, her parents made sure their household (Louisiana
West) maintained a definite non-California edge, including a steady
supply of grits, gumbo, cornbread, and collard greens, and a stream of
other transplanted southerners eager to share their back-home stories.
Capricorn by birth and temperament, Lalita decided early that independence and self-sufficiency trumped personal amusement, and set out with dogged determination and methodical resolve to fashion a career. She climbed the corporate ladder, rung by rung, entering the business world when computers were as big as Volkswagens and mollycoddled by highly specialized experts in refrigerated vaults. By the time she left her position as VP and General Manager at a Fortune 500 high technology company in Silicon Valley twenty years later, ending that particular chapter of her life, all she had to do was pack up her laptop and run for the nearest exit.
The transition from focused, driven, corporate drone to balanced, fully satisfied, fully realized human being (okay, she hasnt really made it there yet) was an incredible journey of self discovery and growth, only impeded by the fact that there was absolutely no money coming in. But her obsession with finding each root, each branch, stripping the bark and turning over every hidden leaf and stem of her family tree consumed her, until she had accumulated such powerful stories there was no choice but to write about the amazing people with whom she had made acquaintance.
And so, over 1,000 documents in hand, she wrote a novel based on the lives of four generations of colored Creole slave women in Louisiana, women from whom she descended. Cane River was a testament to the strength of those who came before, a blend of fact and fiction, homage, but hopefully a good, fast, exciting read. Fortunately, Oprah Winfrey thought so, and she selected the novel as her summer book pick in 2001.
After everything she learned researching and writing Cane River, book two, Lalita thought, would be much less difficult and involve less than three years to create. She was wrong. Maybe if not for the time-intensive process of falling in love and getting married, it would have been, but she will never know. It will be almost six years between the publication of Cane River and Red Rivers debut in January 2007. Red River also takes place in Louisiana, and is also a historical novel, based on real events during Reconstruction after the Civil War, a time period and subject matter often summarily skimmed in our history books. The story of Red River begins in 1873, and follows the ramifications of an incident on Easter Sunday of that year on successive generations of two families involved.
Reproduced from lalitatademy.com, with the permission of Lalita Tademy.
This biography was last updated on 06/19/2011.
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Lalita Tademy Chats with BookBrowse about Her Latest Book, Red River
Red River ends in 1937. I'm very interested to know what
happened to your family since then - I know that you were brought up in
California, what caused your parents to move from Louisiana to California? Do
most of the remainder of your family still live in Louisiana?
Lalita: My parents moved from Louisiana to San Francisco in the early 1940s, where there was a greater range of work opportunities available for a black man. My father, who never enjoyed teaching in Louisiana, came out alone first, worked in odd jobs in the construction trade created by World War II, and then sent for my mother and my two older sisters a few months later after he had a foothold. One by one, his brothers moved their families out to California as well, although none of the sisters relocated out West. Today, there are pockets of Tademys in both Louisiana and California, as well as most other parts of the country.
The family tree in Red River is fascinating, but because it only shows the birth dates of your grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents, it's difficult to know which you might have known first hand?
Lalita: My paternal...
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