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Praise Be to the Plus-Sized Sister: An Interview with Author Kamané Malvo Marshall, 9/01/2009
Kamané Malvo Marshall
by Editor Maddy Figueroa-Jones

Every year the female population adopts a new chick flick, the song that you play when your confidence is being challenged and a book that will be read and passed to your girlfriends, mom and sister because it spoke to your very soul.

Author Kamané Malvo Marshall not only opens up about this emotionally satisfying book but her personal journey that taught her to learn to how to love herself. Enjoy!

[Maddy] When I first came across your website I was immediately captivated by the title of your book.  Can you tell me about Praise Be to the Plus-Sized Sister?

[Kamane] The title, Praise Be to the Plus-Sized Sister, is a play on words pulled directly from my own personal spiritual beliefs that was sparked out of a Christian women's conference I attended.  During my testimony, I talked about how God had healed me from the devastating effects of low-self esteem, and there was indeed a "Plus-Sized Section In Heaven!"  This statement brought the house down; sisters of every shape, size, and ethnicity shouted out "Amen, Sister" that day.  This encouraged me to find my voice; answering the call on my life which is to be a living and  breathing example of size acceptance and the miracle working power of God's love. Praise be to the Plus-Sized Sister: Stories of redemption for full-figured women with modern day issues,  is made up of six stories of redemption: Out of the Mind of Israel Ming, Daddy's Girls, The Vibrator Virgin, Count it all joy, Saving Sister Jared, and Forgiving Liberty.  What makes this collection unique is that the seven leading ladies are all linked together by six degrees of separation.  The reader must finish the book to its completion to know the actual ending of each character's experience. Terry McMillan's novel, Waiting to Exhale and Eric Jerome Dickey's overall urban chick-lit style can be compared to my approach of developing realistic relatable characters. My characters are well developed, multi-dimensional, beautifully flawed, and deeply spiritual. I utilize the life experiences of each character to compare and contrast the complexities of religion, spirituality, and faith with the more controversial subjects of adultery, promiscuity, and homosexuality. With the underlying themes of self-acceptance, second chances, and the healing power of God's love, the audience will be inspired to keep the faith. 

[Maddy] You chose to bring seven plus size African American women to the forefront as the main characters. How do these characters differ and are any of the characters based on someone you know? 

[Kamane] A year ago, I almost died from the misdiagnosis, and under treatment of an endocrine disorder called Grave's Disease, and a subsequent lymphatic disorder called lymphedema.  By the grace of God, and a whole lot of prayer, I walked out of the emergency room that same evening considered a medical miracle.  This life-changing event changed the course of my life.  As I convalesced, I decided to write a book about what it means to be me: a full-figured African American Christian female who confronts racism, discrimination and prejudice on three fronts: race, gender, and size.  I also decided to go back to school, enrolling in a Masters Program at Capella University.  While majoring in Human Services, my studies center around the beautifully flawed human condition.  The knowledge gained from my studies, my current profession as a freelance writer, and my own individual life experience influenced the development of my novel's characters: Israel, Sasha, Zinnia, Addison, Celeste, Lila, and Liberty.  Each character is a composite of me and certain full-figured women in my life; representing the full-figured African American female experience, the specific issues we've faced and the obstacles we've overcome.  

[Maddy] How did you research for your book, have you been able to speak to plus size women and openly receive feedback about the issues that plus size women face? 

[Kamane] I didn't have to do much research because Praise be to the Plus-Sized Sister is about me.  The plot and story line of each character speaks to my own personal life experiences.  The character that is mostly like me is Lila Jared and her story is entitled "Saving Sister Jared." Her transformation from an angry black woman extraordinaire into a compassionate self-actualized individual is truly my "coming out" story.  Lila is a controversial Christian who speaks her mind despite the consequences; she has a chip on her shoulder because of significant painful circumstances of her past.  Unlike Lila, I have a close relationship with my parents, and my family, which has always sustained me.  However, very similar to this character, I've also relied on my fists of fury and my witty tongue instead of my relationship with God to work out my problems.  By the end of her journey, Lila transforms into an overcomer, just like I have in my own life.  Living with lymphedema, I am now considered to be a disabled person, but just because I am dealing with physical challenges does not negate my effectiveness.  Lila's story illustrates the context of my own personal journey with lymphedema and Grave's disease.  Her happy ending, however, is fictionalized and is how I wished it would have happened for me.  This of course is why writing is so therapeutic.  I get to re-write history. 

[Maddy] As plus size women – we are often "invisible" in the eyes of the media, fashion and sometimes the social scene. How do you hope to inspire plus size women reading your book?
 
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