Tracey Rose Peyton: Exploring Six Stories of Motherhood for Enslaved Women
In Conversation with Brad Listi on Otherppl
Tracey Rose Peyton is the guest. She is the author of the debut novel Night Wherever We Go, available from Ecco Books.
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From the episode:
Brad Listi: This book really brought into focus for me the awful risks and costs of childbearing, of friendship, or any kind of intimacy, romantic love. You have a child as an enslaved woman in 18th-century America and they just take the child, sell the child, bring the child indoors to play with the kid while you’re out in the field. You never see him again. Horrendous, horrendous. No wonder they didn’t want to bear children. The costs are just too high. And likewise, just becoming close as a friend, because all of a sudden they ship your friend off or kill your friend. That stuff happened all the time. It’s painful to read about and to think about the burdens borne by women in particular.
: Yeah, for sure. That was what I was most interested in was exploring the lives of the six women. And even though, of course, they have different stories and we hear from some of them more than others, I was interested in all the different variations of that experience of motherhood, losing a child, being able to see your child but not really being a mother the way you want to. Also the relationships, the marriages or romantic relationships of any kind, and the type of stresses that people are put under, in terms of trying to stay together and how that affected your relationship with one another. There was so much that I wanted to explore. We’re looking at the interior lives and the private lives of enslaved African Americans that I just felt like I had never seen.
Tracey Rose Peyton is the author of the debut novel Night Wherever We Go, available from Ecco Books. Peyton received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Her short fiction has appeared in Guernica, American Short Fiction, Prairie Schooner, The Best American Short Stories 2021, and other outlets.