A former vice-president at Sun Microsystems, Lalita Tademy
the corporate world to immerse herself in tracing her family's past and in
Lalita 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 hasn’t 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 River’s 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.
Meanwhile, I look forward to the succeeding chapters of my own life, eager to know what comes next.
Tademy Photo Credit: Copyright © InMenlo LLC, 2010. All Rights Reserved
Learn more at Lalita Tademy’s official website