Fashioned after Mary Higgins Clarke’s with an urban contemporary spin, J.B. Stallworth’s pocketbook thriller serial ‘Fear Me Not’ is back dropped against the colorful and often corrupt world of the Black powerful and elite in historic Baltimore, Maryland. The series begins with part one…Unsight Chance.
Returning home is never easy. Especially if every sordid, embarrassing detail of your Hollywood coupling gone-bad is headlined on all the celebrity magazines, entertainment TV shows and gossip blogs. That’s what Nicole Harkem faces as she sheepishly returns home to Baltimore after ending her eight-year marriage to famed rap star Gynesis. Nicole soon realizes that going back means confronting her past and mending unkempt relationships with family, old friends and enemies alike; making starting over a challenge.
However, thing gets even more complicated for the brokenhearted Nicole when a popular transgender nightclub performer is found murdered. Ironically, the trail leads to Nicole’s former high school chum and mayoral candidate, Councilman Madison Shelly. Unexpectedly, she finds herself caught up in a web of secrets, corruption and lies as she and her buddy-stylist, Jared race to clear Madison’s name in time… before they too end up in the morgue.
Unsight Chance is full of colorful, engaging characters, plot twist and turns that serves up enough wit and suspense while leaving readers hungry for more in the follow-up installment…When It Rains, It Pours.
JB: Well, I had a background in film and television. After 12 years, I decided to branch off into something new. I turned back to my first love…writing. I’m hoping it will be as fulfilling as film and television production was for me.
Tricia: What made you decide to become a writer?
Tricia: What is Unsight Chance about and how did you get the idea for the book?
JB: Honestly some say it is autobiographical. It’s not. But the dilemma Nicole finds herself… returning home after years of living a sort of extraordinary life in Hollywood and being hit with the reality of normalcy. That rings true to my experience; however, everything else is totally out of my wacky head (LOL). Many of the plot lines came from articles I read over the years. I know many will see that person or believe it based on this person. In truth, it’s really about an amalgam of situations I found in newspaper headlines.
Tricia: Nicole is an intriguing character. She’s recovering from a nasty divorce, but she faces other challenges as well. Can you tell us about the unique challenges Nicole faces?
JB: Nicole is suffering from acute depression or rather suppression. She has never been on her own. Either family or her ex-husband has always been guiding her ship. She has never been the captain of her life. This makes her vulnerable to unwise decisions; trusting the wrong people, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, saying the wrong thing. She is just trying to figure things out. Her biggest mistake is trying to be a friend to one in need of one. Her naive ways are going to get her in a heap of trouble.
Tricia: Let’s talk about some of the other characters in the book. Can you tell us about the other major players in the book?
JB: Well I think the biggest character is the city of Baltimore. Then, there’s Councilman Shelly, Nicole’s school chum. Peter Burton, my homage to Donald Trump (snigger). There are Detectives Hancock and Higgins. Bobby Briggs, the witness and most importantly….there’s GHOST. Ahh, who is Ghost? Hmm. (LOL)
Tricia: Setting can play an important part in a book. Why did you choose Baltimore to
serve as the backdrop for your story?
JB: Well. I was born and raised in Baltimore. It’s a unique city unlike no other; the clash of cultures, the economic diversity, and the importance education plays in that region, the history. It’s like an eclectic soup of goodness. I know people only the Baltimore depicted in the HBO’s series the WIRE, but there so much more and surprisingly enough the different communities intermingle in such a way. I wanted to show that. I wanted people to see the Baltimore I know and love. It’s my love letter to my hometown.
Tricia: I understand Unsight Chance is part of a series. What can we look forward to in the next book?
JB: Yes. There’s the second installment WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS and the finale….FEAR ME NOT.
Tricia: Which authors of books have inspired your writing career?
JB: James Patterson, Tamika Newhouse, LJ Sellers, Mary Higgins Clarke, Not sake Shane, Paulo Coelho.
Tricia: What advice would you have for new or aspiring authors?
JB: Well, I can’t offer too much as I too am freshly out the gate. But, what I can say is don’t give up. I plan not to.
Tricia: Where can my readers go to learn more about your work or to buy a copy of Unsight Chance?
Barnes and Noble
The print and audiobook format will also be available on those outlets in November.
Tricia: I’d also like to remind my readers that they can LIKE Unsight Chance on Facebook in order to receive updates about the series. Please enjoy an excerpt of Unsight Chance provided by the author:
St. Paul Street
Baltimore, Maryland The morning traffic jam on St. Paul Street has subsided to a constant trickle. A delivery truck pulls up alongside a parked silver Saturn. The driver swiftly gets out the truck holding a small package and jogs up the steps to an Italianate style row home. He leans against the deep recessed French archway as he peeps through the stained glass casement windows. Impatient, he knocks mercilessly on the mahogany oak doors. An angry man of late pops out of the front entrance of the adjacent building. “Stop that damn banging boy!” the crotchety man yells. “All that ruckus in the morning.”
The driver asks, “Will you sign for this?”
The man hobbles over the bridge path that connects the two buildings. His hair has more salt than pepper, mostly due to the large pieces of lint from his ratty old sweater.
“Now, I don’t do that. I don’t get in nobody’s business, and they don’t get in mines. Especially the likes of those types, anyway. They carry on all times of the night. I’m an old fashion Baptist country boy. That their business is not my upbringing.”
The old man steadily approaches the driver on the stoop. The driver listens on, trying not to be disrespectful. The old man continues, “You know the type?” The man spreads out one hand, shaking it rapidly back and forth. The driver squints in confusion. “On the sugary side,” the old man whispers.
The driver finally grasps the meaning behind the old man’s words. Often, he finds
himself in these situations. Too many times than he can count, people have expressed their contempt towards gays around him– totally unaware his sister, whom he loves dearly, is a lesbian. Normally, the young man gets defensive, but the man is from another generation after all; a time when these types of comment was acceptable and commonplace. So, the driver opts to contain himself. “Look sir, I’m just trying to deliver this package. It specifies not to leave it at the front door,” the driver petitions.
The old man stutters; fearing he spoke out of turn. “Oh yeah…well, I think my front door key will do. The landlord, he owns both these here building.” The old man finally gets the door opened after a few attempts. The driver graciously thanks him before heading inside. “Just one unit for each floor. I’ll wait here outside to lock up.”
Despite the ill-lit narrow hallways, the driver beelines up the staircase. On reaching the top, he notices the apartment door slightly ajar. “Hello,” he cries out, before inching closer. Nothing. The hardwood floors creaks and cracks under his feet with every movement. The driver calls out again; hoping the first attempt went unnoticed. Perhaps the feeling he has of something being amiss is unfounded. Suddenly, he hears a faint, almost undetectable breathy voice in the distance. “Here…help…help.”
The delivery guy rushes to the apartment. At first glance, he sees no one, only furniture tossed about haphazardly. It’s apparent to the driver that there was some sort of break in. He hesitates to go further. He hears a hollow gasp coming from the far end of the sofa. He soon finds himself there.
“Oh, my god!” the driver says, horrified. “HELP!” The young driver runs to the door yelling. “Somebody has been shot!” He races back to where the bloody body lies; large pieces of the woman’s skull floats in a pool of blood surrounding her close-shaven head. The blood is rich, dark, and red like the color of her dress. Shaken, the man pulls his cell phone and dials out.
“9-1-1, do you need police or paramedics?” the operator greets. “Yeah. Hey, I’m a delivery guy. I found a woman shot in her apartment,” he says, distracted by the hollow gurgling death rattle escaping from the woman’s dry lips.
“Is the victim alive?” the operator probes further. “Hello sir, are you still with me? Is the victim alive?”
“Hold on lady! Please don’t die on me,” the man’s plead. The young man checks for a pulse. Nothing. Something inside him turns frightfully cold at the sight of the woman’s fixed haunting eyes. She is gone. Just then, the old man appears at the doorway. The elderly man dares not to enter. Instead, he calls out. “You say what?” The delivery guy rises from his crouched position, listless.
“Sir…sir, are you still on the line? Where are you located?” the operator persists. The young driver snaps out of his lethargic state in time to answer.
“1893 Saint Paul Street.”
J. B. Stallworth was born in Baltimore, Maryland. For Stallworth, being raised in a city known for its rich history and culture had its benefits.
At an early age, her passion for the arts was sparked through the love of reading and theatre. Later, she would enroll into Towson State University under the Communications and Theatre programs. At TSU, Stallworth cultivated an interest in biblical studies, research, history and philosophy. Unbeknownst to Stallworth, her eclectic and often esoteric interest would later become an integral thread in her writing style.
Stall worth’s natural storytelling abilities led her to the stage as a performer for various community on-stage productions in the Baltimore / Washington Area; including the works of Shane, Shakespeare, and Hansberry.
But a once in a life time chance opportunity during her freshman year of study, led Stallworth into a career in broadcast news. During which time, she intertwined her social activism with her work as a media professional. Stallworth enlisted into the AmeriCorps Program two consecutive terms working with high-risk teens and later she would teach Media Education in the DC Public School System.
After a successful run in the film and television industry for twelve years, Stallworth decided to change direction. She left her career in entertainment to fight for social and spiritual change; devoting her time to Children and Women advocacy organizations.
In 2009, she emerged as an online journalist after some much needed time away, and in 2011, formed Flu ire Group.
The ‘Fear Me Not’ novella series is her debut as an author. Stallworth resides in South Carolina with her dog, Langston, and immediate family.