Cecilia T. Capers ’92 was recently featured as the “Author to Know” on the “For Colored Gurls” blog. Capers recently published her first book, “To Whom Much Is Given- A Novel.”
The article notes, “To cultivate her writing skills, Cecilia took a brief departure from the practice of law to write the first draft of To Whom Much Is Given – A Novel. She also performed improv at the New York Comedy Club, wrote a short film and developed sketch comedy pieces for The Actor’s Project NYC. At current, she is working on the sequel to and comedic projects. Her nonfiction writing can be found in The Huffington Post and Urban Cusp where she frequently provides reviews and commentary on a diverse array of artistic, social and political subject matter.”
It goes on to include an interview with Capers about her interest in writing, the book and her future goals.
Capers earned her B.A. in English from William Smith College.
The full article follows.
For Colored Gurls
Author to Know: Cecilia T. Capers
Jamie Fleming-Dixon • October 30, 2013
Cecilia T. Capers, Esq. always possessed a passion for writing. Her literary tastes were cultivated at an early age by her family members, especially her cousin Leothy Miller Owens, founder of Nkiru Books. During her undergraduate years at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, she was a columnist for the school newspaper and active in the theatre and film studies program. Cecilia received critical acclaim for writing and producing a full-length play entitled The Life and Death of the Existential Black Man. For her work, she was awarded the Cornell-Busch Scholarship for Dramatic Writing and a highly coveted paid internship with the renowned New York theatre organization, Playwrights Horizons.
Ultimately, Cecilia received her Juris Doctorate from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, where she was active as treasurer and vice-chairperson in the Black, Asian, and Latino Law Students Association and as a member of National Association of Minorities in Communications (NAMIC) and the Communications and Media Law Committee of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York. To cultivate her writing skills, Cecilia took a brief departure from the practice of law to write the first draft of To Whom Much Is Given – A Novel. She also performed improv at the New York Comedy Club, wrote a short film and developed sketch comedy pieces for The Actor’s Project NYC. At current, she is working on the sequel to and comedic projects. Her nonfiction writing can be found in The Huffington Post and Urban Cusp where she frequently provides reviews and commentary on a diverse array of artistic, social and political subject matter.
Check out our interview below to learn more about Cecilia and her debut novel:
How did you become interested in writing and becoming an author?
Writing always felt like something I had to do. I completely understand when I hear athletes talking about how natural it felt when they threw a football or walked across a balance beam for the first time.
All through grade school, I wanted to be a good writer, and I worked very hard at it. As an adult, I’ll see or talk to people who tell me they remember my writing from grade school days. I’m proud when people tell me decades later that my writing left an impression. Several of them have read the book already. It’s funny to think I was building a base of readers during my childhood, but I didn’t know it.
Seriously, there were times I took my abilities for granted, and I regret that! Writing is one of the primary things in my life that gives me the fire of being alive.
Can you tell us more about your book, To Whom Much Is Given – A Novel?
To Whom Much Is Given – A Novel is contemporary women’s fiction. The main character is Avery Benjamin, a talented, intelligent, and beautiful ’30-something’ New York attorney of the modern, African-American “Talented Tenth.” Avery has the love and support of a multicultural mosaic of dynamic women friends who augment her life.
She is in a serious relationship with Antonio Dawson, a professional football player, four years her junior, whose family is part of Atlanta’s wealthy and influential ‘African-American elite.’ However, like so many contemporary women, she longs for the days when she pursued big, passionate dreams. During this introspective period, her former lover from law school, Dean Everard Swithin, a British aristocrat, re-enters her world, making her a potentially life-changing offer she cannot possibly refuse.
That is when Avery’s own drama begins. Scandal and deception change her heart as well as her perspective. Ultimately, Avery must take steps to confront her past, mend the wounds of her present and find strength to fulfill her destiny with the right man by her side.
What inspired you to write it?
The time finally arrived to break a 10 year dry spell. I was super busy with law school and work. I quit a very coveted job as a lobbyist at a major law firm. Three months after I quit, the story hit me like a tsunami. I was totally swept away with it. The characters gave me a full picture of their lives, and they allowed me to immerse myself into their world.
Why should people read it?
I can tell you why people shouldn’t read it. If a reader is looking for a lot of sex, catfights and explicit language, then this is not the book they should buy.
To Whom Much Is Given – A Novel addresses issues of class and race among matters of generational wealth, immigrant ambition and family conflicts. At its core, the novel presents the question: What are the social, spiritual and emotional responsibilities people owe themselves and the loved ones who are a part of their journey? As the story progresses, readers quickly learn: Success has a price, and sometimes, loved ones become collateral damage.
What do you hope people take away after reading it?
I want folks to pick up the book thinking one way but be surprised at the way things unfold. I hope they will take away an experience. I love writing about intelligent and strong women. In the African-American community sometimes, the term “strong woman” can have the effect of a dual-edged sword. My goal is to paint a more realistic picture of strong women of color who don’t need to knife friends or foes just to get a man or get ahead in their careers. I want people to see that strong women, especially African-American women, can have vulnerability and sensuality.
Shonda Rhimes has the opportunity to paint a refreshing portrait of an African-American woman on television. The Olivia Pope has detractors, but for the most part, women and men of diverse backgrounds like what Shonda, her writing team and Kerry Washington are doing because we are not seeing retreads of stereotypes. I hope people will look at Avery and the other characters in my book beyond racial stereotypes. Personally, I’m exhausted from seeing African-American women depicted as victims or the hypersexual vamp…that is just negative energy we give power to and we need to balance it out with some love and light. Not all of us are cowering in a corner because we’ve been wronged by a man or society. African-Americans have more stories to tell than just the ones about slavery, Civil Rights or living in oppressive situations. Those are important stories to tell, but some people really believe African-Americans see their lives only in the context of those three situations. It is my goal to do in books what Shonda has done in television.
Folks keep debating whether we live in a postracial America or not. I want the book and the rest of the series to be entertaining yet relevant in the dialogue about race, class and diversity.
Because of this book, I had a conversation with an Italian-American man in his early 50′s about the African-American upper class. He was surprised the book included an African-American family from the South whose wealth went back for several generations. That’s a conversation we probably would never have, but the book presented an opportunity about history and social issues in a non-intimidating way. That’s what I hope the book will do.
What are some of your future goals when it comes to your writing career?
I would love to share my passion for writing with students in the high school through collegiate level. Reading allows an individual to explore emotions, issues and diverse people. Visual mediums are awesome, but a book allows each reader to have a movie camera rolling in their minds. I think some young people are losing the wonder and magic that writing and reading provides. It would be fantastic to work with and watch young people exploring new worlds through writing.
Goals are a funny thing. They are great to have, but you can’t let them drive you mad. Honestly, I’m a textbook Virgo personality, so I’m my own taskmaster. I’m always going to push myself hard and re-read my work and say, “I could have phrased that differently.” I believe that is how you become better. I’m going to be that writer up at 2, 3 and 4 A.M., reading or analyzing a movie so that I can be better at painting the scenes in my book with words. I have at least four more books I need to write, so I pray that I will have the luxury of time to put those stories down on paper in the best way I can.
Is there anything you want to add?
I think some writers start writing because they want to be the next sensation. That’s cool to aspire to be the next J.K. Rowling or have a successful series like Fifty Shades of Grey. I would love to have a lightning in the bottle, but the lawyerly side…my rational side says, “slow down and build something worth bragging about.” I hope I will be that author who has a loyal and diverse fan base. I pray for longevity. The best compliment would be for a person to read my work, put it down and say, “Wow, she gave me something to think about.”
In politics, there is a saying: Never forget your base. I don’t want to ever forget the people who are giving me support now. I believe the best is yet to come, and I hope they will join me for the ride.
Jamie Fleming-Dixon is the founder and author of ForColoredGurls.com. Her intention is to empower readers, inspire them to live their most fabulous lives and to motivate them to reach for their dreams and goals. This is done through motivational articles and quotes, interviews with women from all walks of life, posts on topics that affect every area of women’s lives and more. For more info about Jamie and FCG, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This entry was posted on October 30, 2013 at 5:14 pm and is filed under Authors to Know. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.