My guest today is Yecheilyah Ysrayl (“EC”) and is an author, Spoken Word Artist and blogger. She was born on the south side of Chicago and began writing short stories and poetry at the age of twelve. She studied at various eductional institutions after leaving Harper High School, including studying Professional and Technical Writing at Chicago State University and Medical Assistance/Phlebotomy at Everest College.
Yecheilyah began performing poetry in High School where she joined UMOJA Spoken Word. Since then, she has went on to perform in various cities throughout the U.S.
As an artist, Yecheilyah Ysrayl is an incorporation of spiritual critique, honesty and an authentic analysis of African American identity. She seeks to create work that promotes healthy research and investigation into the cultural identity, laws, customs and traditions of the African American for self-revolution and advancement. Furthermore, “EC” seeks to advance the promotion of truth and identity by way of Spoken Word.
“EC” currently lives in Shreveport, LA with her husband where she writes full time.
Her first book written in 2012 – The Aftermath – is a prophetic look at the world following a 2016 collapse of the world financial markets…. In 2016, the financial system of the United States collapsed; shortly after that, so did the world. Finally, in 2019, a man of great esteem, Lord Feinberg and his prophet Antiochus introduced to mankind a new way of life. One that included a technology that could put an end to their misery and change the way we see the world. It held many promises, the end of poverty, sickness, and most of all it promised financial stability. However, not everyone was in favor of such a change and refused the technology. They’re known as The Rebels; and when they didn’t accept what the rest of the world had because it went against their beliefs, the people turned against them, and the war began.
This was followed in 2014 by Pearls Before Swine a crime thriller set on the West side of Chicago.
This is an amazing book. You can find your self playing out each scene as if a movie is playing out in your mind. Each charachter has a story that you can somehow relate to yourself. Wonderfully written this page turner will have you asking for more and more. This is a book that was truly hard to put down. Really looking forward to Volume 2. If you do not have it, it is a must have for any reader. BUY THIS BOOK!! What are you waiting for? 🙂
The Stella series
Stella is a work of Young Adult Fiction as well as Historical Fiction and is distinctive in its focus on one woman’s road to self-discovery, against the backdrop of the African American fight for justice, racial equality, and freedom.
The 3-Part series focuses on the history of one family in their struggle for racial identity. Discover in this Trilogy how 3 individuals living in separate time periods strive to overcome the same struggle, carefully knit together by one blood.
The series begins with a short story – Stella
Cynthia May insist she’s not a racist, she just doesn’t believe Blacks should have the same rights as whites. She believes America has come a long way, but that integration has kept it from going further. One day, Cynthia and her boyfriend Alex decides to visit Cynthia’s Grandmother, and happen upon information that will change their lives forever.
Raised under the protection of her mother and the field hands, Stella is unaware that she is a slave. Not being accustomed to hard labor, things change when Mama dies and she falls into the cruel hands of “Marse Saddler”. Years later, when The Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1864 abolishes slavery in the state, Stella learns of Saddler’s plan to keep her on the plantation. She then agrees to accompany Saddler’s daughter Miss Carla and her husband John to The Windy City and learns the hard way the difference between slavery and freedom.
The next book in the series was Stella: Beyond the Colored Line.
Stella: Beyond the Colored Line is a fascinating walk through the ages–from slavery, to segregation, to the black power movement, to modern times.
Through the eyes of one mixed race woman, the author touches on major events in African American history, allowing the reader to experience them in real time.
The story deepens when Stella decides to live as a white woman and raise her children as whites. As her family grows and develops within a changing society, Stella and her children reveal complex perspectives and attitudes that make it clear that it doesn’t matter who your ancestors were. Nothing is just simply black or white.
The third book: The Road to Freedom: Joseph’s Story (The Stella Trilogy Book 3) was published in February this year.
Wealthy and clueless are just some of the words Joseph uses to describe his family. Deeply concerned about the state of Black America, a fight with his brother compels a young Joseph to leave his mother’s house and join his friends for a trip to Atlanta for SNCC’s (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) second conference. Excited to live life on their own, Jo and his friends have left school and the lives they were living for a chance to become part of the movement. With no money and essentially no plan the seven friends, three black and four white, set out for the road when they are stopped by a racist cop who makes them exit the car. The teens are unaware that a mob of Klansmen also awaits them at the New Orleans bus terminal.
One of the excellent reviews so far.
I was very impressed with Yecheilyah Ysrayl’s Stella: Beyond the Colored Line, and her second book is just as compelling. The Road to Freedom – Joseph’s Story is something of a prequel to Beyond the Colored Line, and Stella’s son tells us about his own journey through turbulent times when South fights hard and dirty to stay segregated. Joseph and a group of his young, impassioned friends want to do something about it but don’t know exactly what.
Together they make a mix of blacks and whites, boys and girls, who inadvertently get what they wished for when they try to catch a bus to Atlanta. The youths are swept right into the action and end up being relentlessly chased by one side and becoming heroes to the other.
Like the first book, Ysrayl works her magic of putting the reader into her characters’ minds to witness history through their emotions and perspectives. At one point in the story, the friends are trapped in their vehicle as it’s mobbed by a pack of violent racists. My heart was literally pounding at this point. I was horrified that anyone had to experience such ugly cruelty.
The unsettling part is that it wasn’t that long ago when the country was segregated, and for those born after those days, this book is an unflinching look into what people had to sacrifice to make a world that we take for granted today.
I think Joseph’s Story would especially make an impact on young people who will be able to immerse themselves in the events instead of reading about them out of a history book.
There’s still a way to go when it comes to racial equality, but thanks to the ones brave enough to take a stand – those represented by Ysrayl’s characters – the ignorance, hatred, and bigotry are being slowly but surely choked out of our society.
Buy all the books: Amazon
Time now to welcome Yecheilyah Ysrayl who has chosen to answer the following questions and tell us more about her books and her blog.
Given a choice of centuries to live in which would it be and why?
First, I want to thank Sally for this amazing opportunity to network and everyone who has helped to spread the word, particularly Colleen Chesebro for alerting me directly.
This is a very interesting question. It is what I have thought about many times. I would have to say that if I was to choose a century to live in, it would be the 21st century; the one I am living in now. I would say this century because the black community, specifically, is at a time of groundbreaking awakening. By groundbreaking, I mean we are coming back to the truth concerning our natural heritage that is different from any other time in history. It is what has been untaught in Christianity. Untaught in Islam. Untaught for too long. It is not political and it is not religious; It is a combining of cultural heritage and the incorporation of black history and the bible itself. Black people are seeing themselves as Moses, as Abraham, and as Messiah for the first time in years.
More African Americans are wearing natural hair styles both in the grass roots community and on television. Speaking of TV, African Americans are being seen in very powerful roles in TV and in film. Not just black people, but all people are involved in this reawakening. Even Europeans and Asians protested Exodus Gods and Kings! So all people in general are attacking the all-white American concept of history itself.
On the other hand, if I was to speak about my most interested time in history, I would say the 1960’s. I am interested in this time in history for a number of reasons. Of course, the most complicated thing about living in this time is obviously enduring the mistreatment and open racism that existed. While I can read about segregation, I am sure it is a far cry from having to actually use a separate restroom or order my food from the back of the restaurant. At the same time, I am intrigued with the black movements that were birthed during this time. The Black Panther movement, the Civil Rights Movement, so on and so forth.
While there were aspects of these movements I do not agree with, what I like is the consciousness that they stirred among black people. If you know that you are not a free people, then it causes you to behave differently, to think differently, and to act differently. It was that stepping stone to the awakening of a people that is absent among many black people today. Not all, but many. Back then, as a community, we were unified in the attempt to fight for a common goal. From the 1960s on back, even as far back as slavery, we were unified in the understanding that freedom was something we did not have and because we did not have it, we fought for it.
From the cohesiveness of the black community as a whole all the way down to the household of the black man and woman on a personal level. Black men accepted their roles as leaders and black women followed that lead. The African American community was striving to walk in truth and to be there at this time with the same mind that I have now would be an education indeed. Plus, I love Afros! To rock an Afro at that time would have been so hot!
Tell us about your blog and your main features. With a link to what you consider best sums you up as a blogger.
The PBS Blog was born in August of 2014 after I published my first screenplay series entitled “Pearls Before Swine”. Since then however the Blog has transformed and extended far beyond what I thought it would. I had no plans for how to blog or what my blog would be about specifically but I am grateful for what it has become today.
Why Pearls Before Swine
To start, I chose the name because it truly embodies who I am and my style of writing. Pearls Before Swine is a term that comes from the bible and as a blog title is a reminder that truth supersedes all and that I’d rather have Pearls Before Swine. That is truth over lies. I also chose Pearls Before Swine as the title to the blog because it has a deeper meaning than what is seen on the surface which embodies my style of writing. I love to write symbolically, objectively, and metaphorically; being able to compare objects or use them as symbols to stand-in for a much more complex, and generally more abstract idea. I also notice that one of the most interesting ways that people learn is by way of symbols because it appeals to the subconscious mind and then causes positive change on a physical level. I enjoy incorporating this into my writing.
My blog Pearls Before Swine and the subtitle Truth is Stranger than Fiction, encompasses my style of writing, my inspiration, my mission, and my foundation. It is also a very unique title. Some may even say strange but I will not change it because it displays the individuality I am always willing to strive for.
I have come to organize my blog so that it is reflective of the diverse people who read it so there’s a little bit of everything there: Poetry, Quotes, Articles, Biblical insight, Pictures, etc. I believe this variety is necessary for me personally and so I have decided not to stick to one particular niche but to offer something for everyone. One of my main features is Writer’s Quote Wednesday as is hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading. I have come to really enjoy participation in this weekly inspirational challenge and lots of my readers enjoy it as well. Writer’s Quote Wednesday is responsible for a lot of the views that I receive in fact.
Of course, that’s not why I participate, but it is one of the benefits. Other features I have is Poetry which is one of my most greatest passions, Black History Fun Fact Friday where I expound on little known Black History Facts, Movie Night Friday, which was created specifically so that my readers can get to know me better by reading the Movies / TV shows I like, and Self-Publishing / Blogging Tips based on my own experiences.
Post That Sums Me Up As A Writer
At the close of last year, 2015, I participated in Blogging University’s Writing 101 Course and I absolutely loved it. Our first challenge was to post on why we write. I believe this best sum me up as a Writer: https://thepbsblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/writing-101-assignment-1-why-i-write/
If you are an author and one of your books was selected to be made into a film; who would you like to play your main character and why?
This question is so exciting! I would be most ecstatic if my Stella Trilogy was made into a film! Depending on which installment would be chosen, I have two actors in mind who I think will knock it out the park for books one and two. The first is Lupita Nyong’o, who I would cast as my Stella for Book #1 and Jurnee Smollett as my Stella for Book #2.
Stella Book #1: Between Slavery and Freedom, is about a young woman who is a slave on Paul Saddlers Plantation. After The Louisiana Constitutional Convention abolishes slavery in the Caddo parish, Stella is forced to remain on the plantation as a slave.
Stella Book #2: Beyond The Colored Line, is about Stella’s great granddaughter, whose name is also Stella. This Stella grows up in the Jim Crow South and challenges the colored line by passing as white.
Since 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o has showcased amazing talent and has become renown for her unconventional physical appearance. Nyong’o redefined beauty standards with her dark chocolate skin tone, and natural hair. I have always been a dark beauty myself and have been on the natural hair bandwagon for seven years now. I would cast Nyong’o as Stella because when I look at her, I see the physical and hidden elements of everything that makes up this character. Stella is just as dark skinned, like the richness of black soil. She’s delicate, kind and just a little naive; tending to be simple toward those who are evil toward her. She wants to believe that Carla, for instance, is her friend but the complex relationships of slavery, Carla being the masters daughter and what that means to her as a slave, does not seem to occur to Stella.
When I look at Nyong’o’s face, there’s strength there but also naiveté. I believe Nyong’o could really pull it off as my Stella because her face has a presence about it that is fierce, but also innocent and full of passion. I also pay attention to the kinds of roles actors play and I do this because to me that says something about that actor’s state of mind. In Star Wars: Episode VII, Nyong’o’s character Maz possesses the ability to see into people, so there’s a spiritual element there which is present in both Nyong’o and Stella that I believe makes them a great match. Nyong’o is also mixed (Kenyan and Mexican) which plays very well into Stella’s history.
I have been in love with Smollett’s acting since Eve’s Bayou! Every time I see her performances they are always full of passion. Jurnee Smollett becomes the people she is betraying in film. They leap from the script and is made manifest in her acting. In Stella Book #2, Stella decides to abandon her mixed ancestry. Not being light enough to be black and teased by her black classmates she decides to live her life and to raise her children as white. I think the emotional complexity of this story requires someone with Jurnee’s talent and also her passion for the history of African American’s. I also pay attention to the movies she is involved in. From The Great Debaters to the upcoming Civil-War Slave Drama Underground, Jurnee is definitely in my range of writing.
What is the one big adventure that you would like to experience?
The one big adventure I would love to experience is Africa. I am not sure which country in Africa as of yet, but I would love to visit. Speaking of Africa, it would be nice to visit Egypt. My husband and I love to travel and to visit these places specifically would be a great education into my passion for the history of black people. I believe it will help me to write better about these places having seen them. It makes a big difference when you visit a place and write about it than if you just researched it. I would love to walk by the pyramids or watch the waves in the Nile.
I think it will help me gain insight into the whole feel of it; the smell, the taste, the touch, the air. But not just Africa, I want to travel the world and visit lots of places! I would love to visit Germany for instance. Lots of history there. I studied German briefly a few years back and from what I hear it is a beautiful place. I almost went one time! Imagine my disappointment that we turned out not to go. Boo.
Work in progress: “The Renaissance”
My next project is still under wraps right now so I’m not going to reveal too much. What I can tell you is that I’m working on a novel about a black woman writer growing up during the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance happened during The Great Migration or mass movement of blacks from the south to Northern cities like New York, Chicago, and Baltimore. It was a literary movement that used Art such as literature, poetry, music, paintings, and sculptures, to define black cultural identity. Also known as The New Negro Movement this is where we are introduced to the Zora Neale Hurston’s, Langston Hughes, Billie Holidays, and Chick Webb’s. It was an exciting time for the blacks who lived through it as a “spiritual coming of age”.
My book will surround the life of Nora White, a young black woman who comes from a prominent black family. Gideon is a descendent of the Free Blacks of Israel Hill. In the early 1800s, ninety families were freed from chattel slavery by their mistress Judy Randolph and given 350 acres of land in Prince Edward Country Virginia. These blacks in turn built a community they termed “Israel Hill”. Gideon is the son of a black woman who was born into slavery after her free born mother–who grew up on the Hill–was kidnapped and sold to a Mississippi slave owner. Fast forward to the early 1920s, Jackson Mississippi, where we are introduced to Gideon’s daughter Nora. We notice that her family owns land and are known, respected, and feared throughout the community due their rich history. But Nora decides that she’s not interested in continuing the legacy of the Whites. She’s not interested in owning land or going to college. Instead, Nora dreams of Harlem and becoming a writer.
The book is about her experience in the renaissance movement and how she came to know all of these great men and women of the era, and the trials and tribulations of Jim Crow that follows her to the North.
My thanks ot “EC” for providing such detailed and interesting answers to her questions and wish her every success with her current books and her new project.
Connect with Yecheilyah Ysrayl
Thank you very much for joining us today and as always your feedback is welcome and if you would be kind enough to click on a few of the share buttons that would also be wonderful. Sally