“My first novel, In the Heart of Texas, was just released in October of 2015. It has helped me create a platform and gain the confidence to finally call myself an ‘author’ instead of a ‘recovering lawyer.”
A Writers’ League of Texas member since 2015, Dallas-native Ginger McKnight-Chavers lives near New York City.
Ginger McKnight-Chavers: I write in the genres of contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, and humor. I also do some essay and article writing in the areas of culture, law, politics, and parenting.
Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?
GMC: I am more of a white wine and margaritas kind of girl, but I would have Cognac with James Baldwin, since he relied on Cognac and coffee to keep him warm in the Paris cafe where he wrote Go Tell it On the Mountain. Once we were warm and cozy, I would ask him for the skinny on his beef with Richard Wright.
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
GMC: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
GMC: I consider myself a Texan author, no matter where I happen to be in the world. The Writers’ League not only provides useful resources and workshops, but it keeps me connected with other Texan authors.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
GMC: My first novel, In the Heart of Texas, was just released in October of 2015. It has helped me create a platform and gain the confidence to finally call myself an “author” instead of a “recovering lawyer.” I plan to continue to write contemporary novels featuring interesting, Texan female protagonists. A second novel is already in the works, titled Oak Cliff, and it will focus on female friendship set in the rapidly gentrifying Dallas neighborhood where I grew up. I also will continue to write the occasional essay or article. I recently wrote an article about Beyonce for Essence.com that I hope will enable me to meet Queen Bey someday.
Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?
GMC: How to be Texan: The Manual by Texas Monthly’s Andrea Valdez. Perfect for a homesick Texan like myself.
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!
GMC: It was a very long road for me to have my first novel, In the Heart of Texas, published. In addition to a number of personal hurdles and challenges, the journey included praise by prominent agents (who still strung me along and never signed me), multiple rejections, a writing fellowship, a deal with a small press that folded, and finally a new home at She Writes Press, an independent publisher.
The silver lining of the struggle was that I learned a great deal about the business of publishing and promoting one’s self as an author, my writing improved immensely along the way, and, most of all, I was empowered by the fact that I never gave up on writing or myself.
In the Heart of Texas recently won the USA Best Book Award in the category of Fiction: African American, and it has received praise from Redbook, PopSugar, Bustle, Parade, BuzzFeed, Library Journal, RT Book Reviews, Brit + Co, and SoulCycle, among others. I am greatly enjoying meeting readers and sharing this labor of love with them.
Between promoting the novel and a part-time writing assignment with an online media group, I am finally living the writing life, after close to 20 years as a corporate and arts/entertainment lawyer. I am looking forward to being able to devote more attention to my second novel-in-progress, Oak Cliff. And I am helping my elderly mother, Dr. Mamie McKnight, write a memoir and family history. As a longtime educator and historian who is in the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, and who is very modest about writing about herself, I want to make sure she shares her amazing Texan story with the world. Others can learn from her experiences in the way that I have, as her daughter.
If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!