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Patricia Hruby Powell on Loving vs. Virginia

powell_loving vs virginiaIn our January/February 2017 issue, our editors asked author Patricia Hruby Powell about approaching a landmark historical event through a novelistic lens in Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case. Read the full review.

Horn Book Editors: Why did you choose to write the Lovings’ story as a “documentary novel”?

Patricia Hruby Powell: I had begun Loving vs. Virginia as nonfiction. But my editor, Melissa Manlove, and I felt that the story would be more poignant to young readers if we showed scenes of Mildred dancing and Richard looking on at a neighborhood party rather than just saying that blacks and whites lived happily together in an integrated neighborhood in a segregated state. I could show the two falling in love and running through the woods at night. I could show Sheriff Garnet stopping Richard’s car and saying about Mildred, “Who you got in there?” rather than just writing that the sheriff was racist and stopped black people in cars in order to intimidate them. In a “documentary novel,” I could show all this and also create dialogue that draws the reader into the emotional heart of the story.

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