Many of us have dreams of releasing the next great American novel as soon as we leave college, or perhaps even before then. Our lived experiences are too valuable not to do so, right? The trouble of this, unfortunately, is that writing a book is perhaps one of the biggest artistic undertakings to which someone could commit.
We hardly have enough hours in a day—except for those of us with the gusto to tolerate pizza-fueled late nights and solitary weekends of pounding out that book one sentence at a time.
The odds never stopped Jason Beverly, a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, who penned a self-published novel titled The Ghosts of Beauvoir: A Supernatural Journey of Self-Discovery.
The novel’s background covers a subject of considerable controversy: the 2001 Mississippi Flag Referendum, an election that determined whether Mississippi would keep its original (and current) 1894 flag that depicts a symbol representing the Confederate States of America.
In the novel, Jacob Lattimore, an African-American reporter, finds himself face-to-face with the ghosts of two slaves in Biloxi’s own Beauvoir estate, the ancient home of Jefferson Davis. This incites a reflective spiritual journey that obfuscates how Jacob views Mississippi and the Confederacy.
Concerning the novel, Beverly said that, among other things, people will see the flag debate differently after reading it.
“So many people will enjoy this book,” Beverly said.
“It has supernatural undertones with a hint of the Southern, black experience. It will also appeal to history lovers. There are a number of significant messages in this book. One of the most significant is the fact that we are all more similar than we think, regardless of our races.”
Alex Roberts, a junior physics major, said that he favored the book because of its openness to discuss such a grave issue. “I think it is quite necessary for literature to present the perspective of someone who may see the flag in a different light,” Roberts said. “Ultimately, asking these big questions is what books are for.”
Beverly is far from finished asking those questions. He has already written his second novel, The Flying Church of Orleans Parish, which is currently being edited and will be published in the fall. According to Beverly, the book will tell a spiritual journey that takes place in Hattiesburg and New Orleans.
He also said that his third novel is halfway complete, noting that he looks forward to future success as a writer and an educator.
Beverly said that his experience as a student journalist impacted his writing. “When I was a (student journalist), I really gained an appreciation for the craft of writing and putting a story together that folks would enjoy,” he said.
He also disclosed some friendly advice for younger writers.
“The best advice I would give to aspiring writers is to just go for it,” he said. “With so much technology, you can always find time to write. The majority of my second novel was written on smartphone.”