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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Long After We Are Gone


Narrator: Diontae Black

Tantor Audio

ISBN: 978-1464218613

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Publication Date: 05/14/2024

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars ++ (ARC)



An explosive and emotional story of four siblings—each fighting their own personal battle—who return home in the wake of their father's death in order to save their family's home from being sold out from under them, from the author of One Summer in Savannah.


"Don't let the white man take the house."


These are the last words King Solomon says to his son before he dies. Now all four Solomon siblings must return to North Carolina to save the Kingdom, their ancestral home and 200 acres of land, from a development company, who has their sights set on turning the valuable waterfront property into a luxury resort.


While fighting to save the Kingdom, the siblings must also save themselves from the secrets they've been holding onto. Junior, the oldest son and married to his wife for eleven years, is secretly in love with another man. Second son Mance can't control his temper, which has landed him in prison more than once. CeCe, the oldest daughter and a lawyer in New York City, has embezzled thousands of dollars from her firm's clients. Youngest daughter Tokey wonders why she doesn't seem to fit into this family, which has left an aching hole in her heart that she tries to fill in harmful ways. As the Solomons come together to fight for the Kingdom, each of their façades begins to crumble and collide in unexpected ways.


Told in alternating viewpoints, Long After We Are Gone is a searing portrait on the power of family and letting go of things that no longer serve you, exploring the burden of familial expectations, the detriment of miscommunication, and the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children.






About the Author

WRITER | TRAVELER | PHOTOGRAPHER

Photo Credit: Sarah Willis


Terah Shelton Harris is an author, librarian, and former freelance writer who now writes upmarket fiction with bittersweet endings. Her debut novel, One Summer in Savannah, was published by Sourcebooks on July 4, 2023, and was a Target Book Club Pick. Her second book, Long After We Are Gone, will be published May 14, 2024. Her third novel, The Flower Farmer upcoming in 2025 by Sourcebooks Landmark. As a freelancer, her work has appeared in consumer and trade magazines including Catapult, Women’s Health, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and more.


Originally from Illinois, she now lives in Alabama with her husband, Jamel. Terah is a lover of life and spends most of her time reading or traveling. A world traveler, Terah has visited over 40 countries across six continents. She has watched the sunrise at the beginning of America, trekked through the jungles in the Bokeo Nature Reserve, searched for William Clark’s grave in St. Louis, and much more. Find her online at: www.terahsharris.com.


Connect with Terah:









Exceptional Authors. Standout Books. Elevator Talk.


INTRIGUING QUESTIONS. INQUIRING READERS WANT TO KNOW.

Behind the Book & the Author

Q&A Elevator Ride with

bestselling author Terah Shelton Harris



Welcome to the May 2024 #AuthorElevatorSeries! Joining us for the first time (a favorite) special guest bestselling author of the popular One Summer in Savannah, Terah Shelton Harris returns with her second novel, the highly anticipated LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE.

 

An enthralling, explosive, and emotionally searing Southern family drama set in North Carolina, 'Prime for the big or small screen'—5 Stars+ and Top Books of 2024! I DM Terah when I finished reading and said, "TV or Movie, a must! Destined to be a top bestseller—a cross between This is Us and Queen Sugar—two favorites."

 

Join us as Terah shares some fascinating behind-the-scenes exclusives from the book and up-close and personal fun moments from this gifted master storyteller!


Welcome, Terah!



Behind the Book



Q. Give us your best ELEVATOR PITCH for LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE?

Long After We Are Gone tells the story of four siblings grappling with their personal demons and collective struggles who return home after their father dies to save their ancestral home, the Kingdom and 200 acres of land from being sold to a development company.



Q. DESCRIBE your novel in three words or less.


Powerful. Emotional. Hopeful.



Q. RESEARCH: Any fascinating research for the novel, or anything you learned along the way?


LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE is a work of fiction but the circumstances surrounding heir property is not. After the Reconstruction, Black Americans started buying land and at the same time laws were created to dispossess them of their land. Because they could not trust Southern white courts, in the case of the Solomon siblings and so many Black families now and then, the Kingdom was passed down without a will, making it heir property, a form of ownership in which descendants inherit an interest in the land, similar to holding stock in a company. One of the problems with heir property is that over time, there can be quite the number of heirs to the land. Heir property does not constitute a clear title which means the land is vulnerable to developers, corporations, and governments. Not having a clear title can lead to many challenges. Because it is difficult for heirs to prove ownership, they may be unable to access loans and mortgages, apply for USDA grants or loans. It’s estimated that tens of thousands of Katrina victims with heir property could not prove ownership. Heir property is not recognized as “the worst problem you never heard of” or the “the leading cause of Black involuntary land loss” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture without justification. In LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE, I hope to shine a light on heir property and how certain laws, policies, and loopholes continue to dispossess families of their land.



Q. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Your favorite character to write, and/or most challenging?


It’s funny because while writing, I found the hardest character to write was the one I was writing at the time! Looking back now, I think the most difficult character to write about was CeCe. Writing unreliable characters is not easy. Go too far in that direction and readers fail to connect or even relate to them. Or, worse, dislike them. CeCe made some extremely questionable choices (stealing money from her law firm, ignoring King’s letter about the Kingdom, and leaving/denying her love for Ellis) and it was hard to keep a balance between those decisions and not losing the reader completely. Junior was the most frustrating character for me. Only because, like CeCe, he makes some problematic decisions, choices that hurt people he loved. It was difficult to understand Junior’s motivations. Mance was the easiest character to write because I know so many men like Mance.



Q. ADAPTATION: For fun, do you have any cast of stars in mind for any of your leading roles for movie or TV series?


I would love to see Sterling K. Brown tackle the role of Junior. I think Aldis Hodge would make a perfect Mance. DeWanda Wise would bring CeCe to life. Lastly, Amber Riley would knock the role of Tokey out of the park. Oh! I forgot about Ellis. That role was made for Damson Idris.



Q. TAKEAWAY: What important message, theme, or takeaway would you like readers to be left with when reading your book?


It’s more of a call to action. If you have family land or think you do, please talk to the elders in your family while you still can. Talk to your grandparents, mother, father, aunts, and uncles and ask questions. Questions like: where’s the property? How many acres? Whose name is it in? Is it heir property? Are there or could there be any other heirs, particularly any estranged family members. Another important question is who is paying the taxes and are they current? In my research I discovered so many examples of heir property lost due to unpaid taxes. If you have heir property, please take the necessary steps to protect your land. That includes speaking to a real estate lawyer about your options, writing a will, and keeping the taxes current.



Q. YOUR FAVORITE FAMILY DRAMAS? (books, TV series, movies)


I’m such a fan of family dramas, movies, on television, and in literature. AS I LAY DYING but would also add EVERYHING I NEVER TOLD YOU and THE VANISHING HALF as two more of my favorite books that feature family drama. I think THIS IS US was one of the best family dramas ever on television. The emotion heft of that show, from the writing to the performances, is nothing short of extraordinary. The Family Stone, August: Osage County, Soul Food are a few of my favorite movies.



Q. UPCOMING: Can you share what you are currently working on or what is next?


Yes! I’m currently on deadline for my third book, THE FLOWER FARMER, in which a woman who is running from a troubled past finds a haven and unexpected love in rural Alabama.



Thank you, Terah. Fascinating! What a cast of stars—these are spot on! Now we also have something to look forward to with your third upcoming book.


Continue reading below for more up close and personal with Terah!



Behind the Author



BIRTH STATE? or (Country)

Illinois


CURRENT STATE?

Alabama


ZODIAC SIGN?

Aries


FAVORITE FLOWER?

Lilies


FAVORITE COLOR?

Navy


FAVORITE FOOD/DRINK?

Pizza


MORNING/NIGHT PERSON?

Morning! Early morning!


DOG/CAT LOVER?

Both


FAVORITE HOBBY?

Reading, writing, and traveling


FAVORITE HOLIDAY OR SEASON?

Spring


FAVORITE READING FORMAT?

1. Hardcover

2. Paperback

3. Digital

4. Audio

ALL!


FAVORITE TV SERIES? (Or Movie/Video) binge-watch, series, etc.?

Grey’s Anatomy, Peaky Blinders, See, This Is Us


MOST MEMORABLE PLACE YOU HAVE TRAVELED?

Iceland


IF YOU WERE GRANTED 3 MONTHS OF UNINTERRUPTED WRITING TIME—WHERE WOULD IT BE?

1. A Busy Urban City

2. A Quiet Scenic Mountain Cabin surrounded by nature

3. A Coastal Seaside Cottage

4. An Exotic Tropical Island

5. A Countryside Farmhouse surrounded by animals and organic gardens.

6. A charming, quaint historic Bed and Breakfast Inn

7. A Scenic Hunting Lodge

8. A Nostalgic Lake House

9. A Writer's Retreat

10. Other


WHEN YOU RECEIVE A SPARK OF INSPIRATION FOR A BOOK:

1. Do you immediately get out of bed or stop what you are doing and start typing? Totally immersed.

2. Make a few quick notes on a pad or device.

3. Save it for later when you are at your desk or office during your regular working hours?


WHICH DO YOU ENJOY WRITING MORE: DIALOGUE OR INTERNAL THOUGHTS?

Internal thoughts


DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE WRITING?

No


A FAVORITE CHARACTER FROM YOUR BOOK(s).

Sara, Jacob, and Ellis


HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?

3


NAME SOMETHING YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TO BE VERY GOOD AT?

Procrastinating


INTROVERT OR EXTROVERT?

Both


YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?

Morning


YOUR FAVORITE APP?

Merriam Webster


A FAVORITE SPORT?

Baseball


THE LAST BOOK YOU RAVED ABOUT?

GO AS A RIVER


IF YOU COULD CURE ONE DISEASE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Cancer


ONE BIT OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE AN INSPIRING AUTHOR?

Read


WISH STATE OR COUNTRY? (Where you would love to live)

Paris


WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF A BOOK?

1. Title

2. Cover

3. Plot

4. Pace

5. Setting

6. Characters

7. The Ending

8. Other


COULD YOU RECOMMEND ANY BOOKS THAT YOU HAVE READ RECENTLY AND LOVED?

THE GIRLS WE SENT AWAY, THE ART OF SCANDAL, NO MAN’S GHOST, GO AS A RIVER, THE PECAN CHILDREN


WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE?

• PLOTTER

• PANTSER

BOTH


WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON TODAY?

My latest novel, THE FLOWER FARMER


PIE OR CAKE?

Cake


ICE CREAM: CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA?

Vanilla


FIRST JOB?

McDonalds


FIRST CAR?

Dodge Dayton


PET PEEVE?

Rude people


COFFEE OR TEA?

Both


PEN OR PENCIL?

Pencil


FAVORITE SPORT?

Baseball


IF YOU COULD CHOOSE SOMEONE TO NARRATE YOUR LIFE, WHO WOULD IT BE?

Viola Davis


GO TO A PARTY, OR A QUIET EVENING AT HOME?

A quiet evening at home


AT WHAT AGE DID YOU CONSIDER BECOMING A WRITER?

11-12


IF YOU COULD WRITE ANOTHER GENRE IN ADDITION TO THE CURRENT ONE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Historical


NAME SOMETHING YOU FEAR?

Snakes


DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE USING ONE WORD?

Beautiful


DID YOU ENJOY READING AS A CHILD?

Oh yes!


HAVE YOU EVER CRIED AT A MOVIE?

All of the time!


TRAVELER OR HOMEBODY?

Traveler


ONE THING YOU HAVE MISSED MOST DURING A PANDEMIC?

Traveling


THE GENRE YOU READ THE MOST?

Any!


A CHARACTER FROM YOUR BOOK YOU ARE MOST LIKE OR WOULD LIKE TO HANG OUT WITH?

Jacob from ONE SUMMER IN SAVANNAH and Ellis from LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE


ONE OF THE EVILEST CHARACTERS FROM YOUR BOOK?

James in LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE


ONE THING YOU HAVE LEARNED SINCE YOUR DEBUT NOVEL?

Never read your reviews!


SPONTANEITY OR STABILITY?

Stability


AN ITEM ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

To become a New York Times Bestselling Author


WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO SPEND A RAINY AFTERNOON?

Reading, writing, and napping


SUNSHINE OR RAIN?

Rain


THE ONE FOOD YOU COULD NEVER GIVE UP?

Anything bread related


TRUTH OR DARE?

Dare


A WRITING IDOL?

I have two: Celeste Ng and Brit Bennett


WHAT ARE YOU FREAKISHLY BAD AT?

Math!


YOUR BIGGEST CHEERLEADER?

My family


IF YOU WERE NOT A WRITER, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR IDEAL CAREER?

Photographer


IF YOU COULD HAVE A TV SERIES OR MOVIE ADAPTED BASED ON ONE OF YOUR BOOKS, WHICH ONE WOULD IT BE?

LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE



Thank you, Terah, for spending time with us today! This has been so much fun getting to know you.





Praise


"A heartrending story of flawed people coming back home to face the demons of their past...Delving into themes of race and generational trauma, Harris' latest offers book clubs plenty to discuss in this emotional novel full of complex characters striving to do the right thing but stumbling along the way."

—BOOKLIST


"In Long After We Are Gone, Terah Shelton Harris weaves a powerful narrative that begins with the haunting plea, ‘Don't let the white man take the house.’ These words set in motion a gripping story as the Solomon siblings unite to protect their ancestral home, the Kingdom, and its 200 acres of land, coveted by a relentless development company. Told through alternating viewpoints, this explosive and emotionally charged novel delves into the power of family bonds and the art of letting go. It unearths the weight of familial expectations, the consequences of miscommunication, and the enduring lessons and legacies we pass on to the next generation. A gripping exploration of the complexities that define us and the resilience that connects us all."

― Etaf Rum, New York Times bestselling author of A Woman is No Man and Evil Eye


"A big, beautiful, devastating, and ultimately hopeful novel."

―Erica Bauermeister, New York Times bestselling author of No Two Persons


"A tour de force of history, injustice, and the brutal, beautiful everlasting ties of family."

—Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The House Girl and The Last Romantics


“Once again, Terah Harris proves she is a powerhouse of Southern literature whose unmistakably poignant prose, profound themes and vibrant characters are built to stand the test of time. Long After We Are Gone is a beautifully-woven story of familial bonds, generational trauma and the nature of love. Richly evocative, this book will move your soul.”

—Quinn Connor, author of Cicadas Sing of Summer Graves







My Review


Master Southern gifted storyteller Terah Shelton Harris (favorite) returns following her popular debut, One Summer In Savannah, with her highly anticipated second novel, LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE. Four complex siblings fight to save their family's generational home after their father's death. I loved this book!


A masterpiece destined to be a best-seller, LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE,—at its heart, is a deep, heartfelt story about the power of family. An unputdownable, enthralling, explosive, and highly emotional family drama—PRIME for the small or big screen. (please!) I can envision the cast of characters. 5 Stars+ and Top Books of 2024! Family drama at its finest.


Set in Dibbs, North Carolina, rich in character and place, a story of injustice, history, race, intergenerational trauma, and dark family secrets as each family member grapples with their own demons.


LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE is a cross between two hit TV series—This is Us and Queen Sugar! (two of my favorites).


"Don't let the white man take the house."


These were the last words King Solomon (a well-known, beloved carpenter) said to his son before he died. The family had lived on the 200-acre land for over 230 years, passed down through generations. The home and acreage, a former plantation, was called The Kingdom. King's devious brother (Shad) had sold five acres behind their backs without them being aware.


However, Solomon's children had no clue about the power of these words until reality hit them in the face. The words and meaning of "Heir Property."


Who will keep the Kingdom afloat?


All four Solomon siblings must return to NC to save the Kingdom, their ancestral home passed down through generations and 200 acres of land.


A real estate development company in Charlotte, NC, has alternative motives—turning the property into a luxury resort, pulling their home out from under them with no will or legal stake in their property and home.


How will they keep their legacy alive, one that their father and generations before them had greatly loved and sacrificed for?


King Solomon, the dad, passed away and left his children to deal with the fallout. He was a complex man who loved his children. Each of the children has different reactions and ways of grieving, and they must work to redeem themselves in the end.


The mother, Hazel, is a mystery throughout the book. (A beautiful yet sad story) King never mentions her. We will have answers before the book ends. Each sibling struggles and makes questionable choices on their road to redemption. Will they break the Solomon curse? Is history repeating itself?


The Author brilliantly tells the story from FOUR POVs: plus we also hear from Ellis. Each sibling hides their personal secrets from one another behind their masks.


~JUNIOR: The oldest son is a school principal, has been married to his wife, Genesis, for eleven years, and is the father of two girls. He is secretly in the closet, in love with another man, Simon, with constantly conflicting inner and outer personalities battling. Men could not love one another in the small town of Diggs, so Junior was in between two worlds. What would his father think of him? His father-in-law, James, is a powerful, evil attorney who eventually blackmails him.


~MANCE: The second son has a bad temper that has landed him in prison more than once. Now, he is trying to manage the straight and narrow for his wife and his young son, Henry (recently discovered he is deaf). He needs expensive implant surgery. However, he is tempted and becomes the fall guy because he needs money to support his family and earn their respect. (reminds me of Ralph Angel on Queen Sugar)


~CECE: The oldest daughter. Beautiful and intelligent, a lawyer in New York City. She left her old love behind, Ellis (love him), who is also an attorney and still lives in Dibbs and a family friend. She wanted as far away from Diggs as possible twelve years ago. CeCe has gotten into a mess after stealing money from the law firm client's account to maintain her high-class living. She wants nothing to do with the town of Dibbs. Her married junior law firm partner, Mark, knows what she has done, controlling and blackmailing her with sexual favors. She will have to turn herself in; however, she hopes they can sell the homestead and land to repay the debt before she is prosecuted and jailed. Will she give Ellis another chance and be truthful with him? She now learns why King had contacted her about some legal papers to be filed that she ignored. Now, it was too late.


~TOKEY: The youngest daughter feels like she does not belong in the family. She was the one who took care of her father and the estate when everyone had left home. An emotional eater—Life is easier with food. Whether Mcdonald's or any sweet carb, she can get her hands on an eating disorder with an obsession and love of Little Debbie cakes. She is self-destructive, trying to fill the need for love and acceptance. She is funny and lonely and misses the mother she longs for and the need to know her family. How will she go on without King?


The siblings must come together as a family! Miss Jessie knows the truth about the mom, and with letters, Tokey finally has answers. Their father and past generations struggled with the high taxes, sacrificing to keep the family home. What had the parents been through to protect their home and family?


From dark secrets, lies, sex, violence, homophobia, betrayal, and addiction, this family comes with baggage, and each must come forward with the hidden parts of themselves and bond together in unexpected ways to heal and save their family for ultimately an uplifting story of hope while overcoming tragedy, even stronger on the other side.


WOW! I was blown away; highly impressive! I could not put this one down. It is edgy, gritty, raw, moving, and sometimes witty. Fast-paced and intriguing, it reads like a riveting family drama, gripping domestic suspense, mystery, psychological suspense, historical, Southern, and infused with beautiful literary vibes.


The Author cleverly builds the suspense to the explosive ending, where it comes down to the family house. Will the four siblings band together once they come clean about their secrets for the showdown?


The sledgehammer and the excavator are intricate parts of the novel and serve as metaphors for the family. LONG AFTER WE ARE GONE is dark, full of emotion, trauma, drama, love, wit, wisdom, and the true meaning of family and their favorite words, "Let It Be."


With meticulous research, the novel is fascinating. Though fictional, sadly, the circumstances covered in the story are factual, as the Author so eloquently explains in her Author's note, along with triggers for those who may be sensitive. Well done! I loved the Epilogue and the map illustration! An ideal book club pick (questions included) and a Q&A.


Black families began buying land in droves after the Reconstruction. Around the same time, laws were enacted to dispossess Blacks of their land. Sadly, many families did not have wills, and the properties were passed down through generations, making their property a form of ownership in which descendants inherit an interest in the land, similar to holding stock in a company.


HEIR PROPERTY does not constitute a clear title, which means the land is vulnerable to developers, corporations, and governments using legal laws to acquire it. Other actions, such as partition, eminent domain, and property tax sales, are also used to take land from landowners. Heir property is not eligible for federal loans or private financing and cannot be used for collateral.


The US Department of Agriculture has recognized their property as the leading cause of involuntary Black land loss. Between 1910 and 1997, it is estimated Blacks lost about 90% of farmland worth billions of dollars. Unfortunately, this is still happening today, as referenced the author's notes.


Thank you, Terah, for vividly bringing this story to life while infusing it with a family to show the fallout. I highly recommend it. I cannot wait for Terah's next book—her third novel, THE FLOWER FARMER, upcoming in 2025. It is an upmarket, Southern fiction about a woman on the run from the law and her past who finds herself working on a flower farm in rural Alabama, published by Sourcebooks Landmark.


For fans of John Grisham's Camino Ghosts, Wanda M. Morris' What You Leave Behind, and Brea Baker's Rooted: The American Legacy of Land Theft and the Modern Movement for Black Land Ownership.


Thank you, Sourcebooks Landmark, the Author, and NetGalley, for the honor of a digital early reading copy. The hardcover is a must for any home library. A classic.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Stay tuned for my #AuthorElevatorSeries Q&A on pub day, May 14, 2024, where we go behind the scenes of the book and this super gifted author.



@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

My Rating: 5 Stars +

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