I’m A. E. Costello, welcome to my blog. Be prepared for a slight history lesson today but it’ll all make sense and is relevant to the topic.
Today’s post is about the setting of my new novel, Zippy Mae and the Seven Kingdoms, which is the first out of a series I’m currently writing. I introduced the basic premise of this novel in my blog post “Blackness in Disney’s the Princess and the Frog: Introducing the Zippy Mae series by A. E. Costello” so if you haven’t read that maybe check it out.
So to begin with a small character bio of the main character; Zipporah Mae Freedman is a twelve year old black girl who has learned not only does she have magic powers, she’s also the only person in her entire town who has them, marking her as particularly special.
The town in question is named New Greenwood, a predominantly black community set in an unnamed state of the U.S. A. Founded in 1993, New Greenwood is tight-knit community where all the local businesses are black owned, so black dentists, black doctors, black barbershops, the works. Here nothing interesting really seems to happen, except that Zippy Mae has magic that she can’t quite control and that makes her something of an outcast in the neighborhood.
New Greenwood features African-American attorneys, real-estate agents, entrepreneurs, etc. Black people elect their own leaders, and by putting money into the black-owned business, they support their own economic growth, allowing New Greenwood and Greenwood residents to be relatively prosperous and affluent.
Now listen, I didn’t pick the name “New” Greenwood out of a hat. New Greenwood is based on actual towns where black people once prospered. In these black communities, black people owned their homes, their businesses, and lived together in peace. These towns are living proof of how black people can succeed when given the opportunities to and are not oppressed.
Until each and every one of those places were historically destroyed.
Wilmington, North Carolina, destroyed 1898.
Tulsa, Oklahoma (Greenwood District) destroyed 1921.
Rosewood, Florida, destroyed 1923.
There’s more that I don’t even know but I think these examples speak for themselves.
And in case someone reading this doesn’t understand “who” destroyed these prosperous black towns, then I’ll break it to you, it was white male Americans. In most of these cases, a white mob burned down the town and slaughtered the black people who lived there. Click the links and learn history. As a side note, my maternal grandfather was alive when both Greenwood and Rosewood were destroyed, so understand this wasn’t that long ago.
Back to my story, the Zippy Mae series present a sort of alternate history of the United States of America with the New Greenwood setting. The real history of the Black Codes and Jim Crow still took place and the massacres mentioned above also still took place within the story.
Also, please note that Jim Crow Laws were still in effect until 1965, right when my mother was born the following year and so again understand that this sort of thing wasn’t that long ago. So to the people who think this is all “over” then sorry but its not. I wish it was over.
Systemic racism is a thing, and it’s not over, it hasn’t gone away. But this is a fantasy fiction story, not a history story. I’m only explaining where the basis of New Greenwood comes from.
In terms of my story, the Zippy Mae series takes place in a world where the previously mention riots still happened but, imagine that in our time, a New Greenwood was erected. In 1993, the black community got together, and once again made their own prosperous community, and this time it wasn’t destroyed.
This means New Greenwood represents what black people have been able to create once they are given the way to do so. What if it could stay that way? What if we were allowed to reach our full potential without having it burned to the ground by racism and white supremacy?
That’s the “what if” and that’s how stories are started. I’ll definitely talk about the “what if” next time.
The setting for this series is in the year 2020 in a could-be-real prosperous black-owned town. Where is New Greenwood? The state that New Greenwood takes place is will be unnamed in the story, and all of the geographical features will be fictional.
That’s because New Greenwood can be anywhere and should be anywhere in the United States. Any place a group of black people live can be New Greenwood. Why can’t we as black people get together again, and rebuild Greenwood or Rosewood or any other once-prosperous town?
I will say that the Zippy Mae series is not about black progress or history story or a manual to black excellence. To explain the setting, I needed to go into some real world history. Zippy Mae series is a fantasy series, it is a black speculative fiction mid-grade story. It’s the “what if” scenario.
What if a black Christian girl found out she had magic powers?
Oh yes, Zipporah Mae Freedman is a Christian. More on that another time.
Stay tuned for more updates and news about the series and where I am on it, and what to expect. Hit the follow button to get emails about each time I post. Until then, see ya next time.
And as always, while I write my cat Aomine keeps me company by my side.