Ginger McKnight-Chavers is a writer and attorney whose first novel, In the Heart of Texas, won the 2016 USA Best Book Award for African-American fiction. Though she has lived in New York for decades, Ginger is a native of Dallas, with deep, multigenerational Texas roots. As a result, she can’t stop talking or writing about Texas as a metaphor for everything good, bad and in between.
“I want to tell stories from the perspective of different types of Texans than the characters you see in the media. Smart, nuanced stories about the amazing African-American women that surrounded and influenced me.”
Ginger’s transition from a demanding corporate/arts/entertainment legal practice to full-time writing was long and often frustrating. “It’s hard for a seasoned professional to be treated like an idiot,” she says. “Luckily, I believed in my work and had others who believed in me as well, and I’m now able to do what I love full-time.” She is currently working on her second novel, Oak Cliff as well as a book about her mother’s life and activism to accompany archives she recently donated to the African American Museum of Dallas. Here’s her TueNight 10:
1. On the nightstand: A Nest candle, a childhood jewelry box, a small notebook (for those late night inspirations), family photos, and a stack of books, including: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones; A Small Revolution, by my writing instructor and friend, Jimin Han; Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders; Between Them by Richard Ford; The Sellout by Paul Beatty; and Make it Rain, by my law school friend and complete dynamo, Areva Martin.
2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Subscribing to too many magazines than one can realistically read, eating bbq and tacos, drinking wine, SoulCycle, and TV binges.
3. Jam of the Minute: Though usually obsessed with any and all things Beyonce, I’m currently obsessed with the really weird “Every Day is a Miracle” by David Byrne.
4. Thing I miss: Mom and dad. I just lost my incredible mom, Dr. Mamie L. McKnight, on New Year’s Day this year.
5. 80’s crush: Phillip Michael Thomas from Miami Vice.
6. Current crush(es): Idris Elba, Lenny Kravitz & Mark Ruffalo.
7. Will whine about: Donald Trump, daily driving in NYC traffic.
8. Will wine about: everything. I am toasting this top ten list with a glass of wine.
9. Best thing that happened yesterday: I hosted a meeting of a Black women’s organization at my home and celebrated the 90th birthday of one member, who strode in without assistance in heels, a wrap dress and a fascinator, and who rhymed her birthday reflections in a manner that would put millennial spoken word poets to shame.
10. Looking forward to: My daughter’s high school graduation and spending some time on Martha’s Vineyard writing and sticking her toes into the sand. She hopes to start training for one last marathon.