Noni D. Carter ’13 was 12 years old when a family gathering inspired her to embark on a project that would transform her from a child with a dream to a young woman who urges others to follow theirs.
That evening six years ago, Carter’s great-aunt visited her home in Fayetteville, Ga.
“She gathered me and my sister and my cousins around, and she told the story of my great-great-great-grandmother Rose,” Carter recalls. When Rose was 12 years old, her mother was sold to a different slave owner. The young girl never reunited with her mother.
Upon hearing this painful story from her family’s past, Carter said she ran to her room with tears streaming down her face.
“I have to be able to inspire other people the way her story touched me,” Carter remembers telling herself.
That was the birth of “Good Fortune,” Carter’s first novel, which—after six years of writing, editing, and some good fortune of her own—was published this January.
A WORK IN PROGRESS
Carter says that she has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember, and that her family imbued her with a love of history from an early age.
When she began her novel at age 12, Carter says she read slave narratives and made frequent trips to the library to learn about African-American life in the early 1800s.
“I read so much that I was in that time period when I wrote,” she says. “I would lock my door and be in that time.”
At age 15, she completed the first draft of her book, which had grown from a 25-page short story to a 300-page manuscript.
Inspired by her own family history, Carter decided to write about a girl who is kidnapped from her African home and enslaved in Tennessee, where she secretly learns to read despite her plantation’s rules.
The novel chronicles her struggles in slavery and her quest for freedom.
Upon reading his daughter’s work, Carter’s father, Clinton A. Carter ’83, was the first to suggest that she attempt to publish the novel.
Excited by the idea, Carter began to revise her story for publication. “Editing was a lot tougher than the actual writing,” she says.