Prewitt, J. Everett

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Prewitt, J. Everett

PERSONAL: Children: two. Education: Lincoln University, B.A., Cleveland State University, M.S. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis, backgammon, billiards, working out, reading.

ADDRESSES: Home—Cleveland, OH. Office—2775 S. Moreland Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44120. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer, novelist, public speaker, and educator. Northland Research Corporation (real estate appraisal and consulting service), president, 1982–; Myers University, trustee emeritus. Military service: U.S. Army, became officer, 1967, served in Vietnam as commander of a supply company.

MEMBER: Cleveland Association of Real Estate Brokers (former president), Cleveland Area Board of Realtors (former president).

AWARDS, HONORS: First Prize for Best Fiction, Los Angeles Black Book Expo, 2005, for Snake Walkers; Distinguished Alumni Award, Cleveland State University; Distinguished Alumni Citation, Lincoln University; Realtor of the Year Award, Cleveland Area Board of Realtors; Award for Civic Service, Citizen's League of Greater Cleveland.

WRITINGS:

Snake Walkers (novel), Northland Publishing Company (Cleveland, OH), 2005.

Author of nonfiction work, Urban Residential Real Estate Market Analysis.

SIDELIGHTS: As an infantry officer in Vietnam, J. Everett Prewitt experienced first hand the conflicts brought on by racism. "For the young black men who served in Vietnam, especially those I met from the south, it was the first time some had served on equal terms with their white counterparts," Prewitt stated in an essay on his home page. "Sometimes the experience was good and sometimes it created friction," he observed, but one result was almost universal: "If the black kids thought that whites were in some way superior to them before the war, they didn't think so afterwards."

This realistic approach to race and racism lies at the heart of Snake Walkers, Prewitt's debut novel, in which he explores issues of race, racism, and unaccountable hatred, but also growth and transformation. Twelve-year-old Anthony Andrew is told to stay out of the woods near Pine Bluff, but his curiosity overwhelms him and he starts exploring the supposedly haunted forests. While there, he witnesses a profoundly traumatic event: the lynching and beating of a young black man by members of the Klan. Though Anthony manages to escape unharmed, the event remains with him throughout his life, though he never tells anyone what he saw and tries his best to suppress the horrible memory.

As an adult in the socially troubled 'sixties, Anthony lands a job as the first black reporter at the Arkansas Sun, a paper notorious for espousing racist positions. Assigned to write on the unsolved abandonment of Evesville, a small Arkansas town, and the disappearance of fourteen white men there, Anthony's early experience returns to haunt him. As he conducts his research, however, he encounters a pair of black families, the Williamses and the Coulters, both dignified and strong. More disturbing is the possibility that the two close-knit families may have some responsibility for the disappearances. The Williams family, located in Cleveland, Ohio, seems to know more about the disappearances than they let on. Despite their reticence, Anthony finds the family members to be charming, intelligent, and gracious. As his own relationship with the family blossoms, he feels tremendous conflict; if they are guilty of a crime, was it justified? Was it a crime at all? What is more important to him?: Kowing that justice has been meted out to the deserving, or uncovering a story that could propel his journalistic career forward? And will his budding relationship with college history professor Carla Monroe help or hinder his investigation?

Prewitt "writes with a great mastery of plot and characters, capturing the attention of readers right from the riveting opening to the pounding climax, with the pace never slackening in between," stated a reviewer for BookWire.com. "Prewitt clearly writes from wisdom and know-how, which will cause readers to sacrifice a few hours of sleep to read a few more chapters before bedtime," remarked a critic on the Midwest Book Review online. "Prewitt has done an excellent job of maintaining the suspenseful plot and providing the reader with characters they can truly care about," commented Kathleen Youmans on the ForeWord Reviews Web site.

Prewitt told CA: "When I left Vietnam, I felt compelled to write, but knew I had no experience in writing so I shelved the thought. My intention was to write about the strong, black men and women I had met and/or grew up with during my life. I also wanted to write about the unwritten stories of the South—stories I had heard when growing up about the battles and the outcomes which were not as one-sided as people might think. After taking a creative writing course at Cleveland State, I began to learn the art and was encouraged by the initial response to my work. Thus began the journey.

"My influences came from my family. Both my mother and father were strong, dignified, quiet but fiercely proud and accomplished people. My uncles, aunts, sister and cousins were the same. A lot of the characters in my story are based on them. Authors that influenced me were Earnest Gaines and John Oliver Killens because of their unique perspectives in writing about the black experience.

"Since this was my first book, my writing process was fairly haphazard. I knew the story I wanted to tell, so I just started writing. When I would hit that 'writer's block,' I would either read a novel of an author I admired, or read a book on how to write. I often found that if I did some writing in the evening right before bed, questions that arose would be answered in the morning. I did create a family tree for the family in Snake Walkers and did a profile for each of the main characters. I even cut out pictures of people I thought looked like my characters and pasted them on the wall over the computer so they could talk to me at their leisure.

"I've learned that a good writer's group is invaluable and that a big ego is not.

"I would hope that any reader would learn that a close, caring and proud family of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins is extremely important in overcoming obstacles. I would hope that younger black kids would obtain a better sense of history and benefit from the lessons learned by Anthony and Raymond in my book Snake Walkers."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

ONLINE

BookWire, http://www.bookwire.com/ (May 18, 2005), review of Snake Walkers.

ForeWord Reviews, http://www.forewordreviews.com/ (July 9, 2005), Kathleen Youmans, review of Snake Walkers.

J. Everett Prewitt Home Page, http://www.eprewitt.com (July 9, 2005).

Midwest Book Review, http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ (June, 2005), "Emanuel's Bookshelf," review of Snake Walkers.

PRWeb, http://www.prweb.com/ (July 9, 2005), biography of J. Everett Prewitt.