All in the Family
The human memory is a mysterious and complex thing. It is filled with a million moments, many of them as distinct and brilliant as the stars in the sky on a clear winter night. Sometimes, those memories are orderly and consecutive, like beads on a string. Other memories might be loose and scattered, but no less vivid for their lack of sequence. The human experience is forever shaped by these lasting and meaningful flashes of recollection.
In her new book, We End in Joy: Memoirs of a First Daughter, Angela Fordice Jordan has masterfully woven her own personal memories into a beautiful memoir of love, laughter, family and loss. The daughter of controversial Mississippi governor Kirk Fordice, Jordan couples stories from the past with insight gained through years in the public eye to craft an inside look at one of the state’s most talked about first families.
The book explores individuals and relationships within the family, taking time to examine the dichotomous nature of Governor Fordice himself. Full of expressive tales from the Fordice family, the book allows readers to be a part of the spiritual journey that the author takes in her attempt to discover the past, search for the truth and look toward the future.
Written in a style that is nothing less than graceful, We End in Joy is the captivating record of a daughter’s quest to fit the pieces of the family puzzle into place. This is a book with a powerful and ultimately uplifting message that love indeed endures all.>>
What led you to put the story down on paper?
From the time my dad was elected, friends began saying “You need to write a book!” I think the reason it took me so long was that I didn’t know what the story was. Until my father’s run in the governor’s mansion was over, until both of my parents had died, until my own marriage had ended, I was too much in the middle of it to have any perspective, but I began to feel more strongly that I had to write it. Stories heal us and bind us together and make us human. I wanted it to be “the right book” and it took me a long time to know what that was.
Were some parts of the book more difficult to write than others due to the personal nature of its subject matter?
The funny stories were easy and fun to write. Much of the book was painful, but in some way, it was a relief to write it. Catharsis seems like a trite term which doesn’t cover the alchemy that actually occurred. It’s not that I wrote through the pain and lack of understanding - in some ways, I understand what happened even less. I feel that through the writing I was able to release the story, like papers fed to flames and rising on the currents of smoke, the story is free now. And so am I.
Please talk about your writing process. How long did it take to complete the project?
I began the project in 1999. I sent the completed first draft to the publisher in March of 2010, so it took 11 years to get this baby born! As to my process, I wish I could say that I write every day, but I don’t. I seem to need a lot of “fallow time.” I spent so much time in my head, working through it. As the work progressed, I began to pray and to ask for guidance, as I felt very strongly that I wanted a book that not only told the truth, but was also kind. As I got close to the end of the first draft, it came all in a rush. The bulk of the book was done in about a three-month period.
What has the reaction been from family members?
I let my daughters read it early in the process. All three of them loved it and were so proud of me. My brothers I don’t think took me very seriously when I said over the years that I was working on it. They were indifferent and sometimes discouraging, which I can understand. I think they were nervous and afraid of what I might have said, but when they read it, all three of them were so pleased and so supportive. One of them called it “a wonderful gift” for our family and our descendants. That was quite gratifying.
What is your advice to families in the public eye?
Find ways to ground yourselves in reality. It is so easy to lose perspective, when eyes are focused on you most of the time. It’s easy to begin to see yourselves as more important or separate from others than you are. And always remember to laugh a lot.
What are some of your favorite things about growing up Southern and life in the South, in general?
Oh, I feel so privileged to have grown up in the Deep South. The pace is slow, the people are warm and the food is delicious. There is a quiet beauty that permeates everything. Not spectacular like mountains or deserts, but sweet and green and comforting. Think cotton rows stretching to the horizon under a cloud dappled sky; huge old oaks draped in Spanish moss; and of course, the big river, the grandfather of waters, the mighty Mississippi, who nurtured me with its deep waters from my earliest memories.