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January 27, 2020

In her debut memoir, McCloud describes the numerous prejudices she faced, both from inside her community and from the outside world, growing up in the rural South during the 1930s and 1940s.

What drew you to write about your life?

There was one aspect of my life and that of other African-American people that I felt few members of the general public knew about. That was the color caste system that has always existed among black people themselves. Very few knew about the prejudice light-skinned blacks often had against darker-skinned members of the race. My own experiences in this culture affected me negatively. At the same time, those experiences motivated me to be more interested in being the best in every experience I encountered. It also gave me the chance as an adult to assist other young people, both black and white, which brought me fulfillment and feelings of self-worth.

Since the things you're writing about happened years ago, how do you make sure you are telling "the truth," or how do you refresh your memories when writing?

The things I wrote about in Seeking Personal Validation became a part of me—they are the kinds of things one doesn't forget. In becoming a part of me, they served to motivate rather than deter me throughout my life. We never forget the essence, the shadowy factors of our past, but as humans, we should move on. When necessary, I refresh my memories of faces, activities, and feelings of sadness by looking at old pictures and reading articles and greeting cards I have kept for years. I guess I always had it in the back of my mind that I would write a book one day.

How do you imagine readers at this moment will connect to Seeking Personal Validation?

My book is not just about race relations but about attending school at all levels, courting and marrying, being a military wife and living in another country, having babies, experiencing an illness that had an effect upon my life and marriage, and working in two different educational institutions in new types of positions. Many of the things I wrote about are experiences other people have had or will have. Hopefully, they will gain some new insights and inspiration from reading Seeking Personal Validation.

What is the one thing you most want to tell readers about your book?

I want to tell readers, and I would like for them to pass the word on to others, that all human beings have value. Everyone needs to be aware of that fact. We can help each other realize our innate value and worth by treating each other with kindness, courtesy, and love.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Yes, I'm thinking about writing a book about the elderly—a group I fit into nicely. It will be fiction but based on observations and research.