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52 Tuesdays: Patricia Raybon

“Writing is about truth and courage. Readers want to spend time with a character who’s got guts. The more I ask of my character, she in turn asks of me to step up, too,” explains Colorado author Patricia Raybon.

Raybon’s latest historical novel, Double the Lies, is the second installment of three books in a new mystery series about a Black female sleuth, Annalee Spain. The books take place in 1920s Colorado. “In the 1920s, during the second iteration of the Klan, Colorado had the second highest Klan membership per capita of any state in the union.” (Indiana was number one.)

Photo of Patricia Raybon in front of Union Station in Denver, CO

Raybon got into writing “by being born Black during the Jim Crow era, and as a young child not understanding why I was a target in an anti-black culture,” she says. Still, “I had a teacher at Columbine Elementary school in Denver who asked me if I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and I said yes, because I loved to read and write so much.” Raybon worked on her high school newspaper, went to college, where she earned a master’s degree in journalism. She worked at both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News for 12 years and taught journalism at the University of Colorado for 15 years. In 2006, she began writing full time, and has written nine books, many about faith.

“I write at the intersection of faith and race. And when I turned to fiction in 2020, I found myself in the same space,” she says.

Raybon shows that 1920s Black people were different from the way they were portrayed by the Klan. “In my stories, I’m working hard to put a face on multidimensional Black people,” says Raybon. Her sleuth, who loves Sherlock Holmes stories, tries to solve crimes that the Klan-run police in Denver would not resolve. “I am using these mysteries to tell those historical stories,” says Raybon. “I’m aware people who might not read an essay I’ve written on faith and race may find themselves drawn into a novel.”

Raybon has just completed her third Spain mystery, due to release in 2024.

“I’m hoping to make everybody more cross culturally comfortable and competent. The racial narrative is American History,” says Raybon. “History does not comfortably lie down and it won’t go away.”

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