Oakland, CA —You’ve got to check out The Committee! It’s a political thriller jam packed with scandals, plot twists, and conspiracies. No, I’m not talking about some new Netflix show, I’m talking about author Terry E. Hill’s latest book. Though you can’t stream it on a tv near you, this page turner is definitely worth binge-reading.
In the first installation of his new trilogy, Hill introduces us to Camille Hardaway, the gorgeous, ambitious, no-nonsense, first-ever African-American female Mayor of Los Angeles. Yeah, that was a mouthful, but Camille really is a lot of things. We meet our main character as a hardworking superwoman who has it all — the hot husband, the money, the power. Basically she’s just #goals. But reading on, it’s clear that our heroine is actually anti. The young and successful powerhouse keeps her image clean, tucking away all of her scandalous skeletons in her closet with the help of her allies, including the help of a mysterious obeah woman named Gillette Lemaitre. Camille’s charm and successful term as mayor garners her a lot of attention, from the public, the press, and some pretty powerful individuals. When one secret society, known as “The Committee” expresses their interest in her to become Governor of California, and potentially President of the United States, Camille must do any and everything to secure her place at the top — no matter the sacrifice.
I read this book in just a couple days. Hill’s storytelling style is as engaging as it is enticing with its nonstop crazy twists and turns. Political drama is definitely a popular theme in pop culture right now, and The Committee fits right into the cool table. The dynamics are as strategic as that of House of Cards and Camille is as cunning as Scandal’s Olivia Pope and as ruthless as How to Get Away with Murder’s Annalise Keating.
But what sets Hill’s story apart is its underlying theme of fantasy. This isn’t your wand waving type of fantasy either.The Committee delves into the spiritual world of witchcraft, premonitions, and prayer. The fictional “Committee” is akin to the uber-taboo illuminati. The secret society is led by a group of creole women of a New Orleans family. The women have controlled the fate of the country and its economy since its selection of James Monroe as the US’s fifth president. Now that the group leaders have set their eyes on Camille, she will have to help fulfill their plan despite personal drama, betrayal, and a meddling journalist who is too close to the truth for his own good. Through manipulation, intimidation, murder and the powers of a mystical candle, The Committee will stop at nothing to ensure their rising star reaches all the way to the White House. I love a good conspiracy theory and Hill masterfully creates this incredible supernatural world of magic and mystery.
Besides the juicy story, it’s just nice to read about humanized black characters. Female black characters have always been overlooked. It’s only now that we have several brown skin leading ladies running primetime. Hill’s characters are beautifully flawed, relatable, and enjoyably messy.
Obviously Camille will reach each desired seat of success, so we can expect book #2 to focus on her term as Governor of California and book #3 on her Presidency. What we don’t know, however, is what she will do to get there. So far, she’s already managed to destroy every obstacle, no matter who or what they were. I asked Hill what we can expect in the second book and he said we’ll learn more about Camille. Not so much of a spoiler but Hill is a man of mystery and I adore that. I guess we’ll just have to wait until the release of part two.
Until then, I just had to get to know the man behind the story. After working in social services for fifteen years, the Oakland, CA based author stumbled into the writing business with his wild imagination. He has written four successful novels, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell/When Duty Calls and the mega-church drama trilogy Sunday Morning. The latter received rave reviews from BET, Crème Magazine, Hello Beautiful, Black Literature Magazine and The Literary Network — to name a few. Interestingly enough, The Committee series is really a sort of sequel to the Sunday Morning trilogy. The story continues with some familiar characters from the older critically acclaimed series. (FYI: the Sunday Morning books are just as twisted and scandalous as The Committee.) Hill is the type of author who writes what he knows, which makes his style so authentic. His work in politics and social services, and his experience as a church goer has given him the insight to create these fictional yet jaw-dropping stories. As you can imagine, it was an absolute treat to chat with Hill. I found out he loves Shondaland as much as I do and we have the same spiritual sensibilities. (He totally gets the magic of The Universe!) Check out a condensed version of our talk below.
Q&A with Terry E. Hill
What was your creative process like for The Committee? “I typically write about powerful African-American women. [After the Sunday Morning trilogy] I was really searching for another character to start a new series with. My background is actually in politics, and you know they always say to write about what you know. Watching How to Get Away with Murder, I fell in love with Viola [Davis’] character [Annalise Keating]. She kind of inspired me. [Kerry Washington’s] Olivia Pope is also inspiring. I really enjoy a powerful woman but I also enjoy sensuality, beauty, and intelligence. So putting them all into one was a thrill for me. “
How do you develop your characters? “With all the characters I work with, I don’t want them to be black and white, meaning all good or all bad, or all sexual or non-sexual. I really want to illustrate the whole human experience. You’ll notice that Camille has a lot of lovely qualities, but then she has this really dark side and they all fit in that one package.”
How in the world do you come up with all of this drama?! “I don’t know! I am the least dramatic person you will ever meet. I avoid it actually. I don’t want to hear about it, I don’t want to get involved in it.”
What are you reading? “When I’m writing, I don’t read anyone’s work. I feel like my voice has evolved and I don’t want to lose that. I don’t do a lot of reading but when I do, I love mysteries. I love Agatha Christie. Her style is very clean and succinct. She has a formula and you can feel it in every single one of her books.”
What influences you? “I actually am a very spiritually person, not religious. I believe ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.’ There is so much going on around us. Not to slip into the whole cliche, but what you visualize [will come to life]. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart so is he’ (a verse in the Bible from the Book of Proverbs, chapter 23, verse 7). So if I’m thinking physical discomfort, illness, or lacking, I’m creating that in my world. The Universe loves us so much, it will give us what we are asking for. If i think of joy, wellness, peace, and happiness, I will receive that.”