Aila's Journal, a new work of historical fiction, focuses on the lives of a group of White and Black families in rural North Carolina during and following the Civil War, 1863-1920. With historical events as a backdrop, they struggle with hardships during the war and through Reconstruction. For the Black families, it is an era of repression, bigotry, and violence.
In 1863, two thirteen-year-old girl laborers meet on a farm south of Wilmington, North Carolina. Aila MacKenzie is a White indentured servant, and Jane Sanders is a Black slave. As the story unfolds, both suffer similar hardship and abuse that over time will spawn mutual empathy and friendship.
The Civil War leaves the South, the community, and personal lives in shambles. Jubilation over the emancipation of the slaves is replaced by oppression, discrimination, hatred, and violence toward Blacks and their sympathizers that culminate in the 1898 riot and coup d’état in Wilmington. Despite the racial tension that surrounds them, Aila and Jane form a lifelong bond as they overcome similar hardships through strength of character, perseverance, and faith.
About the Author
Charles M. Clemmons was born in the countryside near Clayton, North Carolina, on what is now a state forest. Growing up in the American South, working on a farm, and exploring almost 400 acres of woodland with his faithful dog Snowball proved to be formative life experiences.
He received a BS in Electrical Engineering from NC State University in 1966. In his 27-year career in the corporate world, he traveled extensively and resided in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Connecticut. In 1976, he earned an MBA from the University of Connecticut, and in 1994, he earned an AAS degree in Film & Video Technology from North Lake College in Irving, Texas.
After retiring from a corporate career in telecommunications in 1994 at age 50, Charles refocused on his real passions, documentary filmmaking, photography, being a father to his three children, and discovering the history and lifeways of his parents’ families in Brunswick County, North Carolina.
In 2004, he was awarded two New England Emmys® (writing and production) for the American Public Television documentary, “Mystic Voices: The Story of the Pequot War”. After 40 years in Connecticut, Charles returned to his roots in North Carolina in 2016 and now resides in Durham.
His inspiration for Aila’s Journal came from his own experiences and aspirations growing up in the American South, his own family's oral history, and his historical research of he Civil War and Southern Reconstruction.