When I was in the midst of moving back to Atlanta, my agent contacted me about a story that really needed to be told. It was about an African-American woman named Raye Montague, who engineered her way out of the Jim Crow South to become the first person to draft a Naval warship design by computer. The idea was that I’d complete a proposal (quickly), and if it sold, help her get her memories down (again quickly; she was 83) so we could get what promises to be a marvelous and truly inspirational book about a Hidden Figure out to market. Over the course of the summer and into fall, I’ve gotten to know and truly love Raye and her son David, as I started working with them to create what was originally intended to be her memoir.
About a month ago, Raye fell ill and went into hospice. She died October 10, and after months of talking to her and getting to know her, my heart absolutely broke. Her son’s heart broke. So many people whose lives she touched…their hearts broke. Raye was brilliant, strong, inspirational and so goddamn funny. She was a great storyteller, which was a delight for someone like me. Now, her son David and I will be working together to co-author her biography, which is tentatively titled KICK LIKE THE DEVIL. It’ll be published by Chicago Review Press, just like my first book was, and I think I can safely that I and David – my friend David – are chomping at the bit to share the life of this amazing woman with you. Stay tuned…and thank you.