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Speak Right on


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About the Author

I've always loved to read, and I studied literature and creative writing in college and psychoanalytic psychotherapy after that, doing a short stint as a therapist before returning to writing. I wrote in technical fields until 1994, when I began my own business: interviewing individuals and writing their memoirs, family histories, and organizational histories.Having authored two dozen such books, I developed an ear for first-person narrative and an abiding interest in depicting the fully-lived experiences of a past era that remain relevant today. Prior to Speak Right On, I wrote poems, short stories, and-always-a private journal.My short fiction has won awards and been recognized by the Sacramento Public Library, ByLine Magazine, the Mid-American Review, the Alligator Juniper magazine, as well as the Whidbey Island Writers' Association. My story "Gray" won the 2009 William Van Wert Short Fiction Award. Speak Right On is my first and only novel. The Pacific Northwest Writers' Association honored it in 2004 for being among the best unpublished first novels. In 2006 it found an enthusiastic publisher in Matthew Miller, of The Toby Press (now Koren Publishers, Jerusalem). The novel and my writing received a good deal of praise from major review publications as well as individual readers. In 2008, rights reverted back to me. In the nearly ten years since Speak Right On was published, I have watched silently as society challenges the civil rights gains of the mid-twentieth century. And I do believe the maxim, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. I need to take my own advice and speak out. There is much in Speak Right On that touches upon this country's racial strife, so I am re-releasing it, hoping to have many honest, respectful conversations about the divide between white and black. With a new foreword by Lynne Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of Harriet and Dred Scott-who also has much to contribute to this national dialogue-I am emboldened to ask others what they are thinking, what they are feeling. A book doesn't usually do that; it's usually a one-sided affair, with only authors revealing their thoughts and feelings. The airing of readers' reactions typically is left to book groups. But not now-now I want to hear what you have to say. In my blog I will use Speak Right On as a springboard and reference point, but you don't need to read my book to join the conversation. Just speak right on, from the heart. I have been married since 1991. Andrew, my husband, is a scientist and now retired university administrator, currently working as a painter, photographer, and videographer.I have no children, though I am fortunate to include Andrew's daughter Hannah as one of my closest relationships.I work at home in Santa Fe, and I love words and books almost as much as I love our little family: cats Scout and Jem (named for the characters in my favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird) and dogs Max and Honey (who named themselves).


Dred Scott's legal challenge to slavery, reaching the Supreme Court and prompting the infamous ruling that led to civil war, made him the most famous slave in US history. This novel offers . . . an absorbing look at the relationships-voluntary and involuntary-as well as the nuances of slavery that provoke human emotions from nobility and loyalty to greed and selfishness.--Vanessa Bush, ABA Booklist One-fourth biography and three-fourths fiction, Neighbour takes the reader on an incredible journey of dignity, accomplishment, and bonds of the mind, spirit, and heart.--St. Louis Post-Dispatch Neighbour imagines Scott as a small, quick-witted, storytelling man who speaks in wise aphorisms: "When I think on running, it ain't 'cause I see myself as a slave-it's 'cause I see myself as a man." [T]he Scotts use the "once free, always free" doctrine . . . to launch his famous court battle, a legal dispute Neighbour treats with conscientious detail.--Publisher's Weekly [T]hree new novels demonstrate . . . how different, but more familiar, the early U.S. looks when it is reconfigured with slavery at its centre. In Speak Right On, Mary E. Neighbour builds a poignant, nuanced narrative around the life of Dred Scott. . . . Following Scott on his forced march across the South, Neighbour illuminates how slavery worked its way into every corner of human relations, constricting the lives of all those it touched . . . [and] offer[s] powerful renderings of the precariousness of black life in a country committed to slavery . . . concentrated in the life of Dred Scott.--Brian Kelly, The Socialist Review Magazine (London) I give it a "you gotta read this" nod. It's a fine piece of fiction from well-cared-for slaves' point of view that is reminiscent of Toni Morrison. . . . --Julie Failla Earhart, Armchair Interviews Neighbour's lyrical prose breathes life into this iconic figure of American history.--Ann Peacock, screenwriter: A Lesson Before Dying; The Chronicles of Narnia Armed with a few biographical facts but plenty of Southern (and African) history, Neighbour has sought to flesh out a portrait of the man behind the ruling and in the process has created a powerfully moving portrayal of the psychology of slavery. . . . [Th]e immorality of slavery wasn't about the quality of life, it was about the basic human craving for freedom, and it is this point that Neighbour brilliantly illustrates again and again-in often breathtakingly beautiful prose. . . . Speak Right On is a work of such power-at once disturbing and uplifting-that even if you are familiar with the story's outcome, you absolutely won't be able to put it down.--Kathryn Atwood, GoodReads Speak Right On by Mary E. Neighbour is one of the finest books ever written. . . . Dred and his family come to life on the pages of this book, and I desperately wanted to know what happened. The slang makes it more authentic but was easy to read. Mary Neighbour's plot flows smoothly; this would make an excellent movie. . . . This is a must read and I'm glad I did.--Debra Gaynor, Reader Views Mary Neighbour captures details that enables the reader to feel the emotions, hear the whip crack, and touch history as if you were there. . . . The tale will, if nothing else, open your eyes and perhaps offer a better understanding of what slavery was really like.--Sue Vogan, Book Pleasures Mary E. Neighbour has picked up where history leaves off . . . [with] such a skill for breathing life into characters, the reader sees through the eyes of Dred Scott as if reading from Scott's own journal. . . . The reader will be surprised to find this is Neighbour's debut novel, as the writing style is that of an accomplished author with years of experience. . . . Through her words, the reader becomes privy to the thoughts and emotions of an historical icon. History truly comes alive, thanks to Mary E. Neighbour.--Sabrina Williams, Front Street Reviews

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