I talked to Olivia Matthews at the Ohioana Book Festival.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I was always the kid in elementary school when told to write a 500-word essay, I’d turn in 1500 words. I write when I have no reason to be writing. To write is to live from my standpoint.
How long did it take for you to write the book?
That’s a hard question, because we are always working on several projects at the same time. But on average from start to finish, most of the books take about a year.
What is your writing schedule when you are writing?
I start at 4:00am every morning and write for a few hours before I go to work, come back from work and write some more, then write on the weekends. I never experience writer’s block.
What is your interesting/unique writing quirk if you have one?
Make use of the available time. I write notes wherever I am.
What is the most surprising thing you learned when writing this book?
When looking at traditional lynchings, people of color represent anywhere from 50 to 75% of those lynched. Way out of proportion to their numbers. When talking about tar and featherings, people of color represent like 10%, which is much closer to their actual number. There is a different decision-making process. People who were being tarred and feathered were being punished for things like women engaging in things considered immoral to the community, for men. it was saying things the community didn’t want to hear. The African Americans didn’t fall into those categories too much, they got elevated into lynchings. Tar and feathers were like mini lynchings. Almost like a rehearsal for lynchings. They involved the same organizational principles: you got to get a mob together, you must get your supplies, in that case tar and feather opposed to a rope. They are similar in many respects but different in terms of the people who were targeted.
Sidebar: David Meyers is referring to the general percentage of people of color compared to the total number of people. The explanation of lynchings vs tar and feather blew my mind. I tried not to make a “I’m ignorant and totally surprised” face. I won’t tell you that I thought the tar and feather was only reserved for the men living in the time of the Native Americans and the settlers who were thought to be thieves.
Why did you write this book? What makes it special?
We wrote the book because in researching our other historical books, we ran across these accounts. There wasn’t a one volume resource that you could go to. We decided to include all the lynchings in Ohio, all the attempted lynchings, other acts of mob violence, and put them in one concise volume.
Where can a person buy your book?
Anywhere books are sold. The Book Loft, Barnes and Noble, you can get them online amazon.com, target.com, etc.
Anything I didn’t ask you that you want to add?
We are available for speaking engagements and podcasts.