Q&A With Monica Chenault Kilgore

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Q&A With Monica Chenault Kilgore

Another great book I read that was sent to me by the kind publisher who represents Katie Garner & Seraphina Nova Glass among many others is, Long Gone, Come Home by Monica Chenault Kilgore. Monica is a graduate of The Ohio State University School of Journalism and has written two booklets Liberty and Justice For All Profiles of Middlesex County African American Veterans of WWII and Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

 Q: So Monica I read your bio that interviewing veterans sparked your interest in writing Long Gone, Come Home. What was it like interviewing these men? 

A: It was amazing!  I was commissioned by the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the County Cultural and Heritage Commission to document the experiences of our waning generation of veterans of WWII and the Korean War.  It was an honor and a privilege to spend time with these remarkable individuals, who as young men, deferred their personal and professional dreams to travel abroad and fight within a segregated military for a country that discriminated against them because of their color. 

Hearing their stories about their lives at that time – the joys of love and family, and humiliating disappointments left me with a feeling of tremendous pride.  It reminded me of how far we’ve come in this country due to the sacrifices of those who came before us.  These men and women left a legacy of strength under fire – a foundation of who we are as Americans. 

Many of the men I interviewed have now passed away.  I am so grateful that I was able to capture their stories to memorialize their experiences.  They took up the flag and held it up high with pride to the benefit of future generations as a symbol against the yoke of racism at home and in the military.


Q: Are you still doing journalism or are you solely focused on writing books now? 

A: Right now, I’m concentrating on writing books.  After working through the pandemic, at home, at breakneck speed and under tremendous pressure for a global tech company, I needed to get away from the daily stressors.  I decided to retire from my corporate life to spend time writing and doing whatever brings me joy!  Today, I’m enjoying exercising my creative muscle and giving my imaginative mind space to create fictional stories grounded in historical facts. 


Q: Would you like to tell the readers of the blog a little bit about Long Gone, Come Home, for those who haven’t read it? 

A: Long Gone, Come Home is adventure, romance, and historical fiction with a touch of mystery.  It is told through the lens of a young woman who overcomes multiple dilemmas while searching for her missing husband during the 1930s through early 40s.  This coming-of-age drama traces her experiences as she travels from a small farm town in Kentucky to the big cities of Chicago, Illinois, and Cincinnati Ohio during the vestiges of the Great Depression, the ramp up to WWII, stifling Jim Crow era practices, and the emerging art, music, and literature scene of the Harlem Renaissance.  Her driving force is to bring her dissipating family back together again. 

Long Gone, Come Home recreates the struggle, challenge, loss, awakening moments, and the sensations of experiencing a deep love that won’t let go.  I hope you’ll find the investment in time spent in the world of these characters provides a satisfying return.


Q: I was scrolling your instagram after I started following you. I saw a little blurb about your second novel Cakewalk which takes place in the 1920s and involves a black performer seizing her chance to be a vaudeville star. How did you come up with the concept for that one? 

A: I love jazz music and theater, particularly musical theater.  When I was young, I wanted to be a dancer on the Broadway stage. I am attracted to the ‘20s because so much of life at that time was in tremendous flux.  Music, art, literature, and fashion were breaking away from the stiff and confined to a looser and freer era where people began to openly embrace the new. The entertainment reflected what consumers demanded – more thrills and excitement when they went to the theater. Shows and acts became loud, bawdy, and naughty.  There was plenty of money to be had which led to vaudeville theater houses popping up across America. Jazz music flourished. Dancing recklessly and kicking up your legs was the rage. New technology brought advancements to film and recordings.  And besides, the clothes and accessories were gorgeous!  

Cakewalk, like Long Gone Come Home, focuses on a young woman coming of age to boldly define who she wants to be and what she wants out of life.  It is a character driven drama where the heroine, along with her cadre of troubadours, learns to navigate a grueling business that requires all who desire the top spot to pay their dues with blood, sweat and tears. The story includes notable African Americans who made an impact on the vaudeville circuit. It’s fun and provides a little sparkle just as if you were sitting in the theater. 


Q: Where is your favorite spot or spots where you plot, write and edit your books? 

A: My daily routine is to get dressed (out of my pajamas) and go to my comfy, cozy home office with goals to accomplish that day.  I do from time to time feel the need to get out of the house. In those cases, I pack up my laptop and head to a library, coffee shop or even the park. For edits, I generally hunker down at my desk.  However, I can write anywhere.  Ideas for stories, characters and their development come at anytime and anywhere.  I’m old school.  I keep a writing pad, and pen or pencil with me to capture whatever pops in my head at the time.  I’ve had so many phenomenal ideas slip out of my head when I don’t write them down. 


Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to Long Gone Come Home & Cakewalk? The entertainment industry is running out of original ideas and content. Who would be your dream cast for Long Gone Come Home, especially for Birdie, her Mama and Jimmy? 

A: I would love, love, love to see Long Gone Come Home and Cakewalk turned into films or even a musical!  There are so many great actors out there, but for Mama, I see someone like Aunjanu Ellis (Love Craft County), Angela Bassett or Taraji P. Henson; for Jimmy, someone like John David Washington (Amsterdam, Tenet) or Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk); and for Birdie, an actor with range to progress in age and maturity, KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk) comes to mind.