About the Book
Book: LaDelle & Jubilant
Author: Cathy McIlvoy
Genre: Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction/Southern Fiction/Black/African American Historical Fiction
Release Date: August 14, 2023
Set in the 1930s, this Southern feel-good novel about a controlling widow and the troubled nephew she’s asked to care for invites you on a journey of faith and surrender while weaving in the amazing true-life character, George Washington Carver.
LaDelle Harris, a fiery 51-year-old widow and head librarian at the Tuskegee Institute, likes things her way: orderly and predictable. So, the last thing she wants is to take care of her 12-year-old nephew, Jubilant, for the summer— or maybe forever. But when her estranged brother, the Reverend Ashton Bartley, suffers a heart attack and she’s asked to look after his son, she can’t say no.
While LaDelle focuses on doing all she can to keep Jubilant from creating chaos in her well-ordered life, it seems Abel Fisher, the manager of the Piggly Wiggly, is taking an interest in her. Amid all that’s happening, Jubilant is bent on returning to Huntsville to be with his daddy.
Can a menopausal woman with a need for control and a troubled pre-teen boy make peace with God and each other as they struggle with their fears and issues? Some gracious neighbors and Professor George Washington Carver may be able to help.
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About the Author
LaDelle & Jubilant is Cathy McIlvoy’s first published work of fiction and was initially inspired by her admiration for George Washington Carver. Her interest in him and Tuskegee grew as she taught her sons about this genuine man of faith. She especially wanted her two youngest, bi-racial sons to know about this scientist with his impressive accomplishments and commendable character, who looked like them.
Cathy’s desire to learn more about Professor Carver put her on a plane from California to Alabama, where she soaked up all she could and enjoyed more than one unforgettable meal of catfish, grits, and sweet tea. Her time spent on campus at Tuskegee University, including several visits to the George Washington Carver Museum located on campus, fueled ideas for LaDelle & Jubilant and continues to be a highlight in her life. Cathy was also fortunate to receive an endorsement for her book from Dana Chandler, Archivist at Tuskegee University.
Today, Cathy and her husband make their home near one of their sons in Louisville, Kentucky where she writes, and they minister to pastors, leaders, and missionaries through Standing Stone Ministry. In addition to having four grown sons, Cathy and her husband are blessed with amazing daughters-in-law, a growing brood of grandchildren, and—though calling them a blessing is a matter of debate between her and family members—two persnickety cats.
More from Cathy
“A personal relationship with the Great Creator of all things is the only foundation for the abundant life. The farther we get away from self, the greater life will be.”
-George Washington Carver.
A Note About George and My Journey With Him
Although Professor Carver doesn’t appear in LaDelle & Jubilant until chapter nine, he’s not only an important character, but the impetus for writing the book in the first place!
The truth is, I am fascinated by George Washington Carver and want everyone to know about him. Due to his accomplishments, he was often referred to as “The Wizard of Tuskegee,” “The Peanut Man,” and, my personal favorite, “The Black Leonardo.” An agricultural chemist, professor, artist and more, George was a renaissance man in many ways. Though born into slavery and sickly as a child, God had big plans for him, and George was faithful. He viewed his work as worship to the Lord and service to his community and beyond.
After doing much research about George, the South, and the history of Tuskegee University, it felt surreal to travel to Alabama and spend time where Professor Carver had lived and worked for 47 years. For several days, I soaked up all I could—the George Washington Carver Museum, Booker T. Washington’s home, called The Oaks, the stately brick buildings on campus, and the thriving agricultural area which is still used for instruction. As a middle-aged Caucasian woman, I’m sure I stood out at this historically Black university as I ate in the student cafeteria and roamed the grounds, poking my head into buildings and snapping photos.
After engaging all my senses and imagination while exploring the place George called home for most of his life, I flew back to California with a belly full of sweet tea and my mind full of fresh insight and inspiration. Years after that trip, I finally finished LaDelle & Jubilant!
I hope you are entertained and inspired by my historical, character-driven novel. I also hope it compels you to look further into the life of George Washington Carver.
Interview with the Author
- Who is the author I most admire in my genre?
I don’t know that I have one historical fiction author I admire most, but Patty Callahan Henry’s Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Natasha Boyd’s The Indigo Girl have truly inspired me.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
Naming characters is so fun! I enjoy assigning names to all kinds of things—children, pets, cars, and most recently, my house! I named it Evermore because I plan on living there for the rest of my life. (After over a dozen moves, can you blame me?) As for naming my characters in LaDelle & Jubilant, I pictured what they looked like and chose names that felt like a fit. I made up LaDelle’s name, but “Jubilant” had been on my mind for many years. Back in college, a man named Jubilant Sykes led worship at a retreat I attended. (Look him up! He’s an accomplished singer now.) I loved his name and tucked it into my brain until it came time to write my book years later. I knew my twelve-year-old protagonist had to be named Jubilant! His name is unique but also familiar and memorable.
- What comes first, the plot or characters?
For me, my main characters come first, though I have a loose plot before I begin to write. I enjoy character-driven stories, so perhaps that’s why I focus first on the characters. Currently, I’m working on a historical fiction novel about my grandfather’s birth mother. Through research, I know some things about her and her family and what took place before and after she gave birth while on a ship from Belgium to New York. As I piece together what I know to be true and use my imagination to fill in what could have been, I develop the characters and form the plot.
- What do I like to do when I’m not writing?
I like getting outside and being away from my computer! My husband and I enjoy exploring cities as well as going on nature walks and hikes together. I rarely write on weekends. Taking a Sabbath from writing and work is essential for me, and I look forward to it each week. Having a rhythm of Sabbath rest refreshes and rejuvenates me, and then I’m able to sit down on a Monday morning ready to dive into work once again.
- If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?
Assuming I could invite anyone, living or dead, I would ask George Washington Carver over for dinner! I think he would get a kick out of being a character LaDelle & Jubilant, so I’d share my book with him and ask a bunch of questions about his life and faith.
George made up and published quite a few Southern recipes, but I’d surprise him with an Italian or Mexican dish. I think he was an adventurous and brave man, so he’d appreciate trying something different! I wonder what George would think of enchiladas. Hmm…
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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 27
Texas Book-aholic, January 28
Locks, Hooks and Books, January 29
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 30
Books I’ve Read, January 31
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 1
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 2
Simple Harvest Reads, February 3 (Author Interview)
For Him and My Family, February 4
An Author’s Take, February 5
Artistic Nobody, February 6 (Author Interview)
Mary Hake, February 6
To celebrate her tour, Cathy is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.