This year's Wordwise weekend features Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of the Voodoo Dreams' series. The Voodoo Dreams' series draws from history, in this case on the history and legend of the 19th-century voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and her daughter of New Orleans. Rhodes has written what is classified as a fantasy trilogy covering the lives of Laveau's purported daughter and further descendants, up to the present day. Those who like the fantasy aspect of her novels might enjoy the novels of celebrated vampire author Anne Rice--her novels are also based in Louisiana and include voodoo.
Further information about Marie Laveau is available in Voodoo Queen: the spirited lives of Marie Laveau by Martha Ward. General information on voodoo is given, along with Santeria and other, more familiar, religions, in The African American religious experience in America by Anthony B. Pinn. For greater depth of detail and practice, The Haitian Vodou handbook by Kenaz Tilan would be a possibility.
Rhodes' book Douglass' women is also based on historical fact--the women in Frederick Douglass' life. There is some foundation for Rhodes' book, in the form of correspondence between the Douglass' German mistress and her sister, as well as other records. Other books have dealt with the topic from a purely factual standpoint, including Love across color lines: Ottilie Assing and Frederick Douglass by Maria Diedrich.
The other featured author for Wordwise is Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, a familiar name to any child or parent who has read Sleeping Bear Press' Discover America State by State books (for example, L is for Lobster: a Maine alphabet). In addition, Reynolds has written a number of other books, including a history of the family behind Michigan product "Jiffy," also part of a series. Reynolds feels her real gift in life is helping people tell their stories--she spends a great deal of the year teaching and inspiring people with their writing. Be sure to register for her sessions if you are an aspiring writer!