Oakland, California author, Terry E. Hill’s new novel, “Come Sunday Morning” tells the story of Hezekiah T. Cleaveland, the handsome, charismatic pastor of the New Testament Cathedral, a mega church in Los Angeles. He is married to Reverend Samantha Cleaveland an ambitious and equally charismatic minister. Samantha is the power behind Hezekiah and New Testament Cathedral. She runs the church and their national television ministry from behind the scenes with a firm, and often cruel hand.
Samantha is devastated and humiliated when she learns of Hezekiah’s homosexual affair with a young man named Danny. She fears Hezekiah will publicly announce that he is leaving her and plots to cover up the family secret and preserve her extravagant lifestyle and gain absolute power over the multi-million dollar empire.
Come Sunday morning, in front of a congregation of about 20,000 in the pulpit of the mega church they’ve built together, Samantha decides Hezekiah must die.
PRIDEINDEX: Given recent headlines surrounding the allegations against Bishop Eddie Long and others were you concerned about potential backlash with regards to “Come Sunday Morning’s” subject matter?
HILL: I’m not concerned about offending the sensibilities of people who have prejudices. “Come Sunday Morning” is fiction and was written before any of the recent headlines appeared.
PRIDEINDEX: Do you attend church? Why or why not?
HILL: I was raised in the Black church in Los Angeles and went every Sunday until I was old enough to tell my mother “thanks but not today.” I love gospel music, so I sometimes go to church to listen to a good choir or a minister I’m interested in hearing.
I would love to find a black church that acknowledged that many of their members are gay and worthy of all the same rights, privileges and respect as everyone else. We all know that as the Black church goes so goes the Black community.
I think churches should reflect on why they marginalize gays and lesbians and likewise gays and lesbians should reflect on why they allow it to happen.
PRIDEINDEX: Tell us about any notable challenges you have encountered while writing this book and how you have overcome them.
HILL: The biggest challenge for me was capturing the distinct voice of each character. The characters range in age from 17 to 82 with various backgrounds, levels of education, gender and races. They all approach the world and situations differently. Keeping those voices consistent and true to their character was not an easy task.
PRIDEINDEX: I understand your professional background is work in the social services area why did you decide to become an author?
HILL: It wasn’t a planned career shift. I didn’t discover writing until I was in my forty’s and stumbled into it by accident. One Sunday morning my partner and I were in church waiting for the service to start. While waiting I mentioned something that happened at a church I once attended. He thought it was interesting and suggested I write it down. The following Monday morning I naively sat down at the computer and began to write what I thought would be a short story. Six months later I had the first draft of Come Sunday Morning.
PRIDEINDEX: Name at least 3 writers that have most affected your writing style?
HILL: I’m a big mystery fan. Chester Himes, P.D. James, Louis Edwards, Agatha Christie, and Eleanor Taylor Bland are some of my favorites. I generally don’t read authors whose sole mission is to remind me of all that is negative in the world. I don’t need to read about it because, I see in everyday. I’ve also grown weary of books that chronicle how tough it is to be anything that I am. Black, minority, etc. Trust me I already know about it.
PRIDEINDEX: Tell us about all other projects you’re currently working on.
HILL: I’m currently working on the sequel to “Come Sunday Morning.” I hope it will be out this time next year.
PRIDEINDEX: What advice would you give other aspiring authors?
HILL: First I would say to write about what you know. If you live in Dowagiac Michigan, then place your story in Dowagiac Michigan. If you’ve lost a spouse then write about the pain of losing a spouse. Also, don’t delude yourself into thinking that because you have a good idea or story line that a publisher will overlook poor writing, because they won’t. And finally, edit your work as many times as possible. Then have someone else edit it again before you submit it to publishing houses and agents.
PRIDEINDEX: Where can our readers find your book?
HILL: The book is available on Amazon.com, Barns and Nobles and a number of book sellers on line. They can also get it at their local bookstores. If it’s not on the shelf, the bookstore will be happy to order it. They can also visit my website at www.terryehill.com