One of our recommended books is One Blood by Denene Millner


Join New York Times bestselling author Denene Millner as she unravels three generations of women tied together by blood, love, and family secrets in this searing novel.

Meet Grace: raised by her beloved grandmother in tension-filled, post-segregation Virginia, Grace is barely a teenager when she loses her grandmother. Shellshocked, she is shipped up North to live with her formidably ambitious Aunt Hattie―a woman who firmly left behind her Southern roots in pursuit of upward mobility. Feeling like a fish out of water in the high society world filled with fancy teas and coveted debutante balls, Grace’s only place of comfort is with the smart,

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Join New York Times bestselling author Denene Millner as she unravels three generations of women tied together by blood, love, and family secrets in this searing novel.

Meet Grace: raised by her beloved grandmother in tension-filled, post-segregation Virginia, Grace is barely a teenager when she loses her grandmother. Shellshocked, she is shipped up North to live with her formidably ambitious Aunt Hattie―a woman who firmly left behind her Southern roots in pursuit of upward mobility. Feeling like a fish out of water in the high society world filled with fancy teas and coveted debutante balls, Grace’s only place of comfort is with the smart, handsome son of one of the society’s grand dames.

Meet Delores: beautiful, intelligent and fierce, Delores a.k.a. Lolo has never had it easy. Once she makes it North, she puts aside her dream of being a model to do what she has to do to survive as a woman with little money and no mooring: get married and have a family of her own. When secrets start to spill out and she and her family slowly begin to unravel, Lolo is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her dream intact and those she loves together.

Meet Rae: when Lolo’s headstrong daughter, Rae discovers that she is adopted, it’s just one secret among others that her family is keeping. When Rae finds out that she’s about to become a mother herself, she knows that there is an important reckoning that must be faced about herself and her two mothers.

Potent, poetic, powerful, told with deep love, and spanning from the Great Migration to the civil unrest of the 1960s to the quest for women’s equality in early 2000s, Denene Millner’s beautifully wrought novel explores three women’s intimate struggle with generational trauma and healing.


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  • Forge
  • Hardcover
  • September 2023
  • 432 Pages
  • 9781250276193

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About Denene Millner

Denene Millner is the author of One BloodDENENE MILLNER is a six-time New York Times bestselling author, Emmy Award-nominated TV show host and award-winning journalist who has written thirty-one books, among them Taraji P. Henson’s Around the Way Girl and the picture book Early Sunday Morning. Millner is also the editorial director of Denene Millner Books, an award-winning imprint that has published two Caldecott Honor books, a Newbery Honor Book, the Kirkus Prize for Children’s Literature and a Southern Book Award. A MacDowell Fellow, Millner has written essays for the New York Times, Glamour and NPR, which hosted her critically-acclaimed podcast, “Speakeasy with Denene.” Millner is a graduate of Hofstra University. She lives in Atlanta with her two daughters and their goldendoodle, Franklin.
Twitter: @MyBrownBaby
Instagram: @MyBrownBaby

Author Website


“In delicious, decadent prose, Denene Millner does what few authors can–compose a sprawling multigenerational tale that is necessary American reading. One Blood sings the song of the South in a voice that is heartbreaking, hopeful, and resilient. A masterpiece.” —Tara M. Stringfellow, national bestselling author of Memphis

“From the first page, I was captivated by this utterly poetic saga…of three extraordinary Black women. At once heartbreaking and healing, One Blood is a powerful meditation on the ties that bind. Simply masterful!” —Tia Williams, New York Times bestselling author of Seven Days in June

One Blood is the haunting, yet wonderfully written story of three women, Grace, LoLo and Rae, who are connected through time, circumstances…and more than just blood. From the first pages, Denene Millner had me captivated with the intimate stories and too many heartbreaking moments of these women as they struggled against every adversity, fighting to find their place and their voice in this world. With prose that was so beautiful, I often paused to read a sentence twice, I was left thinking about these women and how their lives were eternally linked, long after I finished this amazing novel.” — New York Times bestselling author Victoria Christopher Murray

“Denene Millner is a masterful weaver of words, characters, and worlds. ONE BLOOD is a beautiful, brilliant American epic that speaks to Black motherhood, female relationship, marriage, family, legacy, love and healing. It is simultaneously deeply intimate and grandly sweeping.” —Tarana Burke, New York Times bestselling author of Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

“Clear your calendar before you turn the first page of Denene Miller’s irresistibly engaging One Blood because you won’t be able to put this compulsively readable novel aside once you start. A profound meditation on generational trauma, Miller’s characters leap off the page. Grace, Lolo, and Rae’s stories will become your stories, stories that will linger long after you turn the final page.” —Sarah Bird, author of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen


Discussion Questions

1. Maw Maw is a midwife and healer in the town of Rose—a needed commodity in a rural community where health resources are scarce. Why is she only tolerated by the people who need her help?

2. What is your initial impression of Bassey through the lens of Maw Maw, the church community, and through hearing Bassey’s own voice? What is your understanding of her ambitions, and what role did they play in her ultimate tragedy?

3. Mr. Aaron employs bravery, defiance, and strength to stave off terror and destruction meted out by white neighbors against the Black citizens of Rose—actions that counter the historical narrative that Black men either suffered under the weight of the Jim Crow South or met its violence with peaceful resistance. Why was he able to get away with his version of defiance?

4. Grace loses her ability to see into the future and connect with the dead when her physical bond with Maw Maw is broken. Why do you think it went away? Why do you think she was able to get it back while in labor?

5. LoLo’s parenting abilities are informed by her father’s abandonment, the stern brutality of The Mothers and the physical and emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her cousins. How does that upbringing affect her parenting? Does she think she’s a good mother? Do you?

6. Tommy is crazy about LoLo and delivers on his promise to take care of her and their family, but he commits the ultimate betrayal in their marriage. Can he have a secret family and still be a good man?

7. LoLo warns Rae not to marry Roman. Still, Rae pushes through out of love for not just her intended but also for the institution of marriage. Was their relationship doomed from the start?

8. Though she is angry at her father for cheating on her mother, Rae does the same thing—run to the arms of another man when her relationship issues with Roman become insurmountably difficult. Is there a difference between her affair and that of her father’s? Does Rae’s affair help or harm her?

9. Roman’s ambition is to be an author, and Rae agrees to be the family earner while balancing a traditional role in the household so that Roman can focus on his goal. Rae sees this, initially, as being a supportive wife to her husband, but LoLo thinks Roman is using her daughter. Who is right?

10. In her most desperate moment, LoLo tried to die by suicide—laying down in the creek water in her backyard. Years later, Rae visited that same creek in a dream and was instructed to walk across the water. What role does water play in One Blood, and what is its significance for LoLo, Rae, and Grace?

11. Maw Maw says that “being scared of blood is like being scared of yo’self.” What do you think she means by this? Can one come to know oneself outside of their own “blood?”



The blood never much bothered Grace. Maw Maw Rubelle got her used to it early on, when she was little ol’, way before she let her only granddaughter, her apprentice, tend the stove at her first baby catching—before, even, Grace’s first blood trickled down her thigh. There it was, her monthly making a dark red liquid trail past her calf and ankle, dripping into the thick, fertile Virginia dirt she’d planted her feet in as she reached for the pins on the laundry line. Grace cocked her head and stared at it in wonder for just a moment, then went on in the outhouse and made her sanitary pad, just like Maw Maw Rubelle had taught her to do with the pins and ripped pieces of feed sack. Just as natural and nasty as slopping hogs, Grace thought.

Now her best friend, Cheryl, she didn’t see it that way. She cried holy hell when her blood came in. Nobody—not her mama, not her big sissy, not nan auntie—bothered to tell her what was inevitable. They held it to their chests like a big secret Cheryl had no right to know. She near killed her fool self when she saw the red puddle on her little piece of school bench and realized it was oozing from her poom-poom—knocked over the desk, tripped down the rickety schoolhouse steps, and just took off running down toward Harley pasture, hollering and screaming like a stuck pig, the laughter of the boys and the screams of Ms. Garvey, their school teacher, chasing behind her.

But Grace, she understood the power of the blood. Maw Maw Rubelle saw to that—made her look straight at it for sport and for practicality’s sake. Maw Maw knew, after all, that her grandbaby would have the calling—saw it in a vision just as plain as day one afternoon as she pulled poke sallet roots from the ground deep in the woods down by the river, where she had gone to forage and be still and make offerings to the spirits of her mother and her mother before that. In the vision, there’d been Grace’s hands—small, delicate, strong—gently twisting, pulling a baby’s head as it emerged between its mother’s legs. The movements, the way Grace’s fingers fluttered about the infant’s curls, had made Maw Maw’s heart beat fast. She could feel her granddaughter’s happy in the tingle of her own fingertips, in each of her own palms. Maw Maw had slowly fallen to her knees, sticks and pebbles digging into the thick of her skirt; she’d kissed those palms, and pressed them—warm, pulsing with energy—to her cheeks. Love was there. Grace would continue in the tradition of the Adams women. Maw Maw’s dead did not lie. Show her the blood, they’d whispered in the breeze, in the beams of light rushing through the leaves. Show her what she already knows.

Maw Maw had pulled a hand towel from her bosom, wrapped the root, leaves, and berries from the small weed stalk in it, and, with a heave, leaned all her weight against her walking stick as she struggled to stand. As quick as her thick legs could take her, she’d hobbled through the brush, across dirt and grass, past the great pear tree and the bumbleberry bush, back to the clapboard shotgun house she’d called home since she was a little girl being taught the ways of a midwife by her own grandmother.

Maw Maw pushed through the back door, squint-searching the tiny, two-room house, her eyes traveling from the bed and small bureau to the kitchen table and three wooden stools Mr. Aaron had fashioned from a fallen oak tree in exchange for two months’ worth of Maw Maw’s Sunday dinner plates, past the fat-bellied wood-burning stove and huge iron kettle standing sentry atop it, over to the corner beneath the window she’d opened to let the breeze carry in the scent of the gardenia bush planted on the side of

the house. There was Grace, splayed like one of the little rag dolls her mama had sewn for her last Christmas, stitching baby clothes Maw Maw had commissioned her to make for a client due to have a baby any day now.

“Come here, baby,” Maw Maw had said as she placed the pregnant dish towel on the kitchen sideboard. She’d carefully unfolded it and separated the leaves from the roots from the berries as Grace scrambled to her feet. “Bring Maw Maw Ruby her bag.”

Grace, then eight years old and therefore eager, had practically flown to the chest where Maw Maw kept her special bag. Somebody was having a baby and Maw Maw had to hop to, Grace knew, because that’s what her grandmother did—she waited on babies and when they came, somebody would call on Maw Maw and she would get her bag and her walking shoes and play with the baby until the mama was ready to play with the baby herself. Or something like that.

“Who baby coming today, Maw Maw?” Grace had asked excitedly as she struggled to gently place the weighty black bag on the table next to her grandmother.

“Nobody, chile,” Maw Maw had said. The chair she dropped into creaked as she settled herself onto its frame. She’d torn off a small piece of a newspaper she had tucked in the bag and gently placed a few berries in it before stashing it in a small pocket she’d sewn in the seam of the leather tote. She’d planned to run them by Belinda’s place on the way to the icehouse the coming Saturday, as the young mother-to-be was due sometime in the next couple weeks, and a woman with a stomach stretching out as far and wide as she was practically tall needed a little pick-me-up to remind her that she was still a lady, worthy of affection. Worthy of touch. Pretty. A smudge of those berries across her lips would have Belinda remembering her fine—Belinda and her man, who Maw Maw had heard was down there at The Quarters, drinking and smoking and grinding and forgetting he had a beautiful pregnant wife back home. “Come here, baby,” Maw Maw had said, signaling to Grace. “Stand right here.”

Grace inched between Maw Maw’s knees and melted her face into her grandmother’s fingers.

“One of these days, this here bag and everything in it gon’ be yourn,” Maw Maw had said, looking into Grace’s piercing brown eyes. She let her thumb rest in the one dimple Grace had, a subtle dent in her right cheek.

“You mean like in my picture show, Maw Maw?” Grace had asked.

Maw Maw pulled her face back from Grace’s and wrinkled her brow. Always, Grace woke up next to her grandmother, snuggled up under her arm, and recounted her dreams—she called them “picture shows” on account she imagined that’s what it would be like to watch a film in a theater, something she hadn’t yet had the pleasure, money, or right skin color to do—before the two of them put their feet on the floor, fell to their knees, said their morning prayers, and set out water and bread for their dead. Maw Maw always listened intently, as she knew the power of dreams—understood they were not at all dreams but a nod of things to come. Messages. Sometimes warnings. Surely, Maw Maw had thought, she would have remembered Grace telling her about a dream that involved her midwifery bag. “What

dream you had, chile, you ain’t tell me ’bout?”

“I was ’bout to tell you, Maw Maw,” Grace had said sweetly. “I was playing with a baby, but she had blood on her face. I was scared.”

“When you had this dream, baby?”
“Just now, Maw Maw, while you was down by the river.”

Maw Maw should have been surprised by her granddaughter’s vision and the synching of their connection to what was to be, but she knew better than to question what was natural, true. It was time. “Blood ain’t nothin’ to fear, chile,” Maw Maw said simply. “It got your mama and daddy in it, me and my mama, too. Being scared of blood is like being scared of yo’self.”


Grace felt something in her stomach, though it was far from her idea of joy. It felt more like what she imagined the hatchet felt like on the neck of a freshly rung cock headed for the pot. She wanted to let Maw Maw know right away that she got her monthly—wanted to know what was to come next. She could count on her grandmother only to tell her the truth. Her mama, Bassey, had long ago traded in what Rubelle taught her about menstruation for what the Bible, the pastor, and the rest of the men had to say about it, so she was tight-lipped on the subject. The most Grace got out of her was that this was a woman’s lot—the curse of Eve. But Maw Maw, she knew nothing of temptation, disobedience, and atonement—of apples and talking serpents with tricky tongues. What she was sure of was what the women who spanned the generations before her were sure of, too: menstruation was a gift. The blood carried the ingredients of life: purification. Intuition. Syncopation between the rhythms of body, nature, God. Her talking to her granddaughter about it became more urgent as Grace’s hips began to stretch the fabric of her flour-sack dress and her buds got round and full. “Mama told me, she say, ‘When you become a woman, the moon will make the waters crash the shores in your honor,’” Maw Maw had told Grace on more than one occasion. “She say Simbi will make a dance in your womb.”

Maw Maw was heading for the clothesline with a freshly washed sheet when she saw her granddaughter walking slowly through the outhouse door, practically doubled over; instinctively, she knew why Grace looked pained, but she asked the child anyway. “What ails you, gal?” Grace’s answer made Maw Maw toss her head back and laugh from her gut. “Come here,” she said, extending her arms and folding Grace into her bosom. “Oh, Simbi gone dance tonight! Go down there in them woods and scrape up some cramp bark—let Maw Maw make you a little something to ease that pain.”

Grace did as she was told, only to emerge from the brush to see a white man riding bareback on a horse, rushing the animal practically up to her grandmother’s nose. He didn’t bother hopping down; just tipped his hat and got to it: “Granny, I need you over to the house. Looks like Ginny getting ready to have that little one.”

“Good day, Mr. Brodersen,” Maw Maw said calmly. She was not in the least fazed by the man’s

gruffness; indeed, she was used to—and slightly amused by—how direct and bossy the white folk tended to be with her when they were procuring her services. Like she was beneath them, even though they were standing in her yard, always in a huff, always desperate, looking for her to step into the middle of a miracle. Hell, most of them were in the same predicament as the colored folk they looked down on: not a pot to piss in, and barely a window to throw it out of. They paid with chickens and promises just like everybody else, except they did it with expectation rather than gratitude. Maw Maw didn’t concern herself with the particulars of it all, though. The only thing that mattered to her was her divine mission: assisting in the safe arrival of new life into the world. Color was not specified in her soul contract. “’Bout what time her water broke?” Maw Maw asked politely, shielding the sun from her eye as she looked up at Brodersen.

“Water came about thirty minutes ago,” he said.

“And her pains? ’Bout how far apart are they?”

“She got to hollerin’ straight off, but she only had the one pain before I left.”

“Well, this ain’t her first baby, so ain’t no telling if this one here gonna take its time or come on out and see the world, is it, Mr. Brodersen?”

“I reckon not, Granny,” he said, using the nickname the white folk called Black midwives.

“Well, let me go on ahead and get my bag. Shouldn’t take me no more than about an hour to get over, lessen ol’ Aaron is here and he agree to drive me to yo’ place. In the meantime, you know what to do, and that’s exactly what you did the last time I came over there to catch those sweet babies a yourn. Put the water on the stove, get your bottles and sheets in place, and make your lovely wife as comfortable as possible.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Brodersen said, tipping his hat. And with that, he rode off into the direction of the Piney Tree Mill—the largest employer of the town of Rose. To get to it, his horse would have to cross Piney River by way of the Piney River Bridge, and to get to his home, he’d have to circle around the huge wooden and steel building, where freshly cut trees went to be shaved, chopped, ground, and pulped and white men worked hard and Black men worked equally hard but got 60 percent less money pressed into their palms come Friday evening. White men used that extra money they made to live in the tiny town behind the mill, where Black folk found themselves only if they were there to work for the white families who lived segregated lives in their segregated community with segregated ideals—and even then, Black folk didn’t find themselves there after sundown. The only somebody who was safe there was one Rubelle Adams—the granny whose hands were the first to touch practically three generations of white Rose’s residents. Ruby was neither proud of nor ashamed of this fact. It was what it was.

And now her granddaughter would join her in being the Negro who could visit white Rose in the dark. “Come on in here, baby,” Maw Maw said to Grace, signaling to her granddaughter, who’d stood immobile by the wash line, waiting for the white man to get on. “Let me make you some tea and talk to you a bit. It’s time.”


From the moment Maw Maw had seen the vision of Grace catching babies, she dutifully set about teaching her granddaughter the ways of the women who wait on miracles—the ways of her own self. And now, on this day that the spirits saw fit to make her capable of producing her own miracles, Maw Maw would bring Grace along to her first birth.


Could you tell us a little bit about your background, and when you decided that you wanted to lead a literary life?

I’ve known since I was fourteen years old that I wanted to be in the media. Actually, I wanted to be an architect, but my physics grades sucked, so my dad encouraged me to seek another profession. I decided that maybe if I became a broadcaster on a news show, I could meet Ralph Tresvant from New Edition, so I chose broadcasting for myself. I was in the ninth grade. Every move I made from there was in the service of being a newswoman. I interned at Long Island Newsday while in college; The Associated Press recruited me straight out of college to work first as a news reporter and then as a political reporter in New Jersey and Albany; I transitioned to political and entertainment journalism at the Daily News in New York, and then held executive and features editor positions at Honey before becoming an editor at Parenting. It was at the Daily News that I got my big break into the book publishing world. That was in 1997, and my entry into being an author was a total fluke. My debut was with The Sistahs’ Rules, the African-American answer to this super popular relationship book called The Rules. I’d written a feature story for the Daily News about how “the rules” would never work for Black women, because Black men would never go for them. My editor and the graphic designer created this mock book for the illustration, and it said Rules for the Sisters: Can Black Women Find True Love? by Denene Millner. I got a call from an agent the day that the story appeared in the newspaper, asking me if I would do the Black version of The Rules; I had a book deal by that afternoon. Thirty-two books later, here we are. A big part of my journey into the literary world was collaboration—being a book doula, of sorts, for celebrities like Steve Harvey, Taraji P. Henson, the opera diva Jessye Norman, and collaborating with my friends on novels, some of which eventually got turned into movies, like Lifetime’s With This Ring, an adaptation of The Vow and, of late, running a children’s book imprint that helps Black authors and illustrators bring books about the everyday experiences of Black children and families to bookshelves. But One Blood is different in that it is the first adult literary work of my thirty-two books written solely by me, directly from my heart in a way that honors my long-held respect for words and my storytelling ability.

Is there a book that most influenced your life or inspired you to become a writer?

I was just a kid when I fell in love with words, specifically the lyrics of Stevie Wonder’s Music of My Mind. I’d sit in my childhood living room and read the words on the album cover while listening to the songs and wonder what all those pretty words meant—how he came to express himself in that way. It was the closest I got to storytelling from a distinctly Black voice. Growing up, I was an avid reader who loved books like A Little Princess, the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, that “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” exercise Margaret practiced in Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret. Those books were all refuges for this studious, story-loving Black girl from Long Island, New York. But there weren’t any characters who looked like me, who had regular Black girl experiences, in my favorite tomes. It wouldn’t be until I got to college and was assigned Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon that I could put my finger on what I’d been missing all my reading life: I needed—deserved—to see myself reflected in the pages of the books I read. I devoured Song of Solomon in two days. And my life was changed forever. FOREVER. It was so Black, unapologetic, bold, beautiful—a gift. A calling. Toni Morrison is the reason I picked up a pen. She introduced me to myself. She is the reason I chose to focus my art—these words—on Black folk, and why I’ve done so without apology.

Would you care to share any writing tips?

To people who want to write, if you are serious about it, know your craft. It’s your duty to read, to look at how people put sentences together, to sit every day and exercise the muscle—your brain and your ability to tell a story. You have to be consistent about this and do it well so you can see the things you want to change for the better, to see the mistakes others have made so that you don’t make them, to see the mistakes you’ve made and know for sure how to fix them, and so that you can become an expert at what it is you want to do. You can’t do any of that blindly. If you have a passion, you have to study that passion, then figure out from that study how to practice your craft in a way that is not only pleasing to readers, but pleasing to yourself.

What’s the most joyous part of running your own imprint? The most challenging part? The most surprising?

Oh goodness, I still get excited by the beauty of a story and watching it come alive. There’s nothing like the discovery and its unearthing—collaborating with the authors to build on the stories, watching the illustrations grow from sketch to color on the page. My heart still beats fast when I finally get to hold those books in my hands. They’re so lovely. The most challenging part remains navigating the publishing process during a pandemic while being new to the processes at a Big Five publisher. (Editor’s note: The “Big Five” publishers are Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette.) The most surprising is just how much time it takes to run an imprint. There’s so much work to be done, and the reach requires careful thought and a kind of coordinated waltz to usher the book to the shelves. That can be quite the juggle when you’ve got 20 other jobs.

What was the inspiration for this novel?

This book began as a thought back in 2018, sometime around Mother’s Day, when I was asked by Yahoo to pen a piece about my adoption. It was part of a package of essays by mothers to celebrate the holiday, and I was chosen because I was well known for writing about motherhood from a distinctly Black perspective. As I was thinking about my own adoption and what may have led to my leaving my birth mother and finding my way to my adoptive mother, the story took shape. I started writing this book because I am constantly wondering about me—my origin story. And why I am who I am. I am constantly wondering, too, about my mothers—the challenges they faced as Black women in America, at a time when the intersection of racism and sexism was a pall that threatened to darken their lives on a daily basis. They were forced to constantly search for light, to try to get free. I wanted to explore what happens on the journey toward that life source. When I step back from the work, I feel satisfied that I answered some questions of my own that I never got to ask my mother because she passed away before I was brave enough to ask them of her— or even to know that they were questions that should be asked. I also feel like I’ve shown my birth mother the grace she deserves—the grace that birth mothers who give up their babies for adoption deserve.

Can you tell us about what research, if any, you did before writing this novel? Do you have firsthand experience with its subject? Are any of the characters based on people from your own life? What is the most interesting or surprising thing you learned as you set out to tell your story?

I read a lot of books, articles, and studies about adoption, abortion, reproductive rights, Black feminist theory, segregation, women’s rights, the history of midwifery, Southern healing practices, traditional African religions, and so much more in preparation for this book. I have firsthand experience with these subjects as I am an adoptee, a daughter of Southerners, a Black woman, and a mother in my own right. One of the most revelatory moments during my research was when I discovered that the hospital listed on my birth certificate wasn’t, at the time of my birth, a hospital at all, but a home for unwed mothers run by the Salvation Army. I found out while rooting around on the internet, trying to get firsthand accounts of what it was like to be a pregnant teenager in 1968, my birth year, and coming across information about the Baby Scoop Era, when the government and social services colluded to take the babies of some two million unwed mothers and give/ sell/adopt away those children to couples who couldn’t have babies of their own. It was during that research that I found a page that listed children and mothers who had been separated shortly after birth at Booth Hospitals searching for one another; it was only then that I discovered where I was most likely born and that I had probably been taken from my birth mother. I remember the paragraphs I wrote after that discovery; my heart broke all over the page. A lot of my research was done like that—asking a question, consulting the Google machine, being led to books on the subject, firsthand accounts and studies about adoption and pregnancy and Black womanhood and racism and patriarchy and rape culture and religion and sisterhood from the ‘40s to the ’90s. I thought a lot about my mother and her life and asked questions of myself that I wished I could have asked her before she passed away. I thought about my own motherhood journey and what I want and need for my own daughters. All of these things created the stew that is One Blood.

Are you currently working on another book? And if so, can you tell us what it’s about?

Yes! What They Created Was Love is the story of three unwed Black girls who have their lives and wombs upended when they run headfirst into Negro respectability and systematic racism at the most vulnerable time in their lives, and are coerced into leaving behind all they love to integrate and give birth in a home for unwed mothers, only to have their motherhood challenged, their race pathologized, and their babies adopted away. The novel is a soaring tale of loss, secrets, and love, exploring race, Black familial structures, and what makes up the DNA of a family, a heart, a soul. It begs the question: Can the body ever forget and, most importantly, forgive itself? The book breathes air into the oft ignored but important stories in the telling of adoption tales: What of the Black birth mothers? What of the judgment, guilt, and shame they endured as they had their children wrestled from their wombs? What of the racism they faced from a society that deemed them immoral, a system that disdained them, and a community that was openly hostile to unwed Black mothers who chose to give up their children rather than raise them? This is a story about motherhood. The ties that bind. The blood that runs through veins and brain and heart, but that is spiritual and transcendent, too—one ripple in a sea of blood with direct lines. Blood is not simply inheritance. It is love. Humanity. Connection. As a child of adoption with scant information about my origin story, I’m fascinated by the heart connection between mother and child—that unbreakable bond that defies proximity. What They Created Was Love trains its lens on the tug of a mother’s heart, the trauma of the carrying, the birthing, and the letting go—whether willingly or under duress—while their entire world is falling all around them.