It’s tough to find good clean fiction these days.
Good and clean as in free of sex and profanity. Marion Thomas has tried. Booksellers give her strange looks. Even the Christian Literature section is peppered with some of it. So she’s taken it upon herself to write some clean fiction of her own.
Thomas’ latest book, “My Father’s Colors,” is the second in a series focused on the central character Naya Mona, a jazz singer heroine who was cooked up in Thomas’ imagination back when she was a high school student. It took another 20 years or so for the character to fully develop in Thomas’ mind, until the author finally committed Mona’s story to paper in 2009 for her first novel, “Color My Jazzmyne.”
Now, some two decades after leaving her native Oak Park for her current home in Atlanta, Taylor returned to the suburban neighborhood last Friday, Aug. 12, for a book signing of her new novel, released earlier this year. Oak Park’s Afri-Ware bookstore, 440 S. Ridgeland, hosted the signing.
Thomas’ believes that every author must follow his or her own path, and she is still navigating hers. “When you’re an author, you have a journey,” she said.
The journey to produce this series, the third of which is currently in the works, was a long and drawn-out road. “Many, many years ago, I wrote the first rough manuscript,” Thomas said, who feels she’s finally found her place in the literary world, though she isn’t able to write full time.
In addition to bringing her long-imagined heroine to life, Thomas is also on a quest to bring more material to the oft-neglected clean fiction genre. Currently, so-called ‘Hood Books’ are popular among some black readers, novels and stories filled with sex, profanity and hustling characters.
“It’s just not something that people are familiar with,” Thomas said of the cleaner side of fiction that’s becoming increasingly rare to find-“It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” she said.
But Thomas knows there’s a market for it, because many of her readers found her work while searching for clean material. And since Thomas herself has never used profanity, and prefers to read literature without it, she’s determined to forge ahead. “That is definitely…my trademark,” she said.
Thomas’ other goal is to share her dream with young girls and women. Of several upcoming books, one is a young female’s guide to becoming a published author. The author currently hosts workshops and lectures for aspiring female authors, and wants to help them get published.
Last Friday’s event was only a book signing, but Thomas said earlier that she’d love to do a book reading there as well. Thomas was able to do an actual reading at the Third Annual Book Clubs Unite Luncheon last Saturday at the Tinley Park Convention Center.
“The more and more you can talk about your book, the more and more you can engage the reader,” she said prior to attending the luncheon. “I’m still on that journey, of becoming a full-time author.”