Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins
by Bryant Rollins
For twenty years it has been my vision to create a character who embodies the struggles and triumphs of African American women living in the modern world, and to project that person onto the most expansive screen of literature and film.
My desire back then was stimulated by the life of Sojourner Truth, the 19th century iconic heroine, mystic and leader. Sojourner's transformation from a slave in Upstate New York to a powerful leader set me to wondering how she would respond to the many vexing personal, cultural and social problems that people face today.
Sojourner's life frames the story of Vera Pilgrim, a charismatic leader and mystic from Central Harlem. Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins is a myth for our times --- a work of magical realism about an African American woman, her wayward son, a 400-year-old African ritual, and two magical dolphins. The book is located in the 20th Century, with flashbacks to the 1500s. Her story is based on historical events, including the Civil Rights Movement.
A Wide Audience
Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins will appeal to a wide range of readers, especially those interested in contemporary social and political matters, civil rights, women-centered issues, the psychology of personal development, African-American life and culture, race relations, history, mythology, mysticism, science fiction/fantasy, and ecology.
The book is presented as a significant contribution to postmodern perspectives on America, and as a paean to Sojourner Truth, an American icon.
$7,000 in Initial Funding ... and Beyond
Through Kickstarter, I want to raise $7,000 for initial publishing and distribution with Outskirts Press. The manuscript is completed. I am set up for distribution with Amazon.com, and with Ingram.
Beyond the $7,000 for basic publishing and distribution, my strategy calls for development of an extensive social marketing campaign, web design, a 7-city book tour, a virtual book tour, development of large-scale public events and distribution of the book to major reviewers around the country. This will cost an additional $10,000.
Funds raised beyond $17,000 will allow me to hire a seasoned professional screenwriter to convert the book into a film treatment and script, then to present this treatment and script to producers and directors around the country. Film treatment, script writing and presentations will cost approximately $30,000.
A Story of Modern Relationships
and Magical Dolphins
Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins provides insight into the life of many blacks who came of age in the mid twentieth century, and their relationships in a multicultural world.
The core of her story is a 15th century African ritual and the two mythological dolphins with whom Vera develops a special relationship. The awakening of the dolphins due to the brutality of the slave trade is a powerful element of the book. The dolphins achieve a new consciousness because of the unspeakable crime against humanity that occurred in their watery element, making them forever connected to people of the African Diaspora, and through them to all people.
The dolphins appear periodically throughout the book, as a kind of Greek Chorus commenting on the action from a distance. They carry a healing message down through the centuries to the present. Vera Pilgrim is the person whose spirit and character make her destined to receive that healing message.
Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins reminded one reader of Kindred by the late science fiction author Octavia Butler, in which she which covered similar ground - time travel, identity, and the psychological/social/personal impacts of slavery.
The general fiction reader will be interested because Vera is a very compelling woman. She is a goddess, healer, giver of life, and keeper of a people’s spirit. Vera runs a successful Harlem nonprofit agency that supports abused women and their children. Her larger work in the world involves public events that heal the wounds that stem from cultural and human differences.
Vera is a controversial leader --- politically conservative and socially progressive on issues. Her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement is an important part of her story, as is her upbringing in the foster care system and her remarkable transformation from a victimized child into a worldly, sophisticated woman of the 20th century who has become a leader in her community and nationally.
Other key characters include Mathias and Joshua T, a gay couple who become Vera's patrons during her college years, awakening her to cultural and intellectual experiences that open a new world for a country girl from rural Upstate New York.
Not an Ordinary Woman
When we first meet Vera, we know she is not ordinary. She is regal and queenly, though she would reject such terms. Affected by periods of self-doubt and depression, Vera is as much a victim of her circumstances as she is the master of her fate. Ultimately, however, the reader will be struck by how self-possessed she is and how much who she is has been informed by powerful external forces - benevolent and otherwise.
Because of her deeply spiritual nature and humanistic beliefs, the dolphins carry a message meant only for Vera. The message, delivered dramatically in the final pages, brings an unanticipated uplifting culmination to her story.
© Bryant Rollins & Shirley Stetson 2012
Risks and challenges
My book "Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins" is completed. It has been thoroughly edited by professional editors and proofreaders, and fact-checked by the same. I've been diligent in anticipating risks and challenges and done everything possible to anticipate risks and head them off. I've surrounded myself with a team of dedicated and skilled professionals ready to support this initiative. I've worked closely with the staff at Outskirts Publishing to insure readiness to publish and distribute the book through Amazon.com. So, I've been proactive to insure that those who contribute to this project will not be subject to any risks. Once I have the money in hand, I'm ready to move forward to get my book into the hands of readers. All of the mechanisms and strategies are in place.
Beyond publication, I have a strategy in hand, and an associated budget, for mass marketing through social media, for development of the film treatment and for presentation to film producers. Thank you for your support.
- (60 days)