Atlanta author's new legal thriller explores the dangers of keeping secrets
Named a “most anticipated” read by the L.A. Times and Boston Globe, Atlanta author Wanda M. Morris’s debut novel, “All Her Little Secrets” does not disappoint. The fast-paced legal thriller draws on the writer’s background as a corporate attorney, following her main character Ellice Littlejohn through a mystery laced with suspense and intrigue. The author joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes via Zoom to share some of her riveting new story’s twists, turns and secrets. Morris will also join a special Black History Month panel on Feb. 24, along with two other best-selling authors, presented by the National Writers Series.
A character carrying traces of her real-life author:
“There might be a smidge of me in there. I once read a long time ago, someone said that there’s a little bit of the author in every book they write, and that might be true. Of course, I am a lawyer. I’ve worked inside corporations. But I do think that Ellice Littlejohn is, gosh, far and away a different sort of woman, and I love her for that.”
“The things that you read in this book, certainly they kind of came out of my imagination. But what I tried to do within exploring that experience was to show that oftentimes, women, and particularly Black women, when they are in these spaces, have to do double time,” Morris said. “They not only have to be successful and on their game, but you know, they also have to be wary. They have to be the adult in the room, so to speak, and all those things just add yet another complex layer on just trying to do your job and be successful as a woman in corporate America, particularly in organizations where there [are] just glaring absences of Black and brown people.”
The fascination of secrets:
“I think there is something about a secret that feels so intimate and personal, “ said Morris. “When I was writing this book, I knew that I wanted a character who would be put in this really, really tough position where she had these ethical canons that she had to abide by as a lawyer, but she still had this moral dilemma of, ‘How do I protect the people that I love?’”
“Specifically [she has] a brother who she has kept secrets from even the people who are closest to her because he has had some trouble on the other side of the law. And so she is walking this very dangerously thin line of, ‘If I reveal these corporate secrets, then I put my brother in danger. If I protect my brother, then I’d have to violate my ethical oath as a lawyer…’ I tell people, despite the body count in this book, it really is a story about family.”
How the book plays out against a backdrop of Morris’s Atlanta:
“I wanted Atlanta to be a character. I find the city just fascinating,” Morris said. “It is a city that is full of dichotomies. I mean, at one point in America’s history, the city was the epicenter of the military operations for the Confederacy. It is also the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. And today, as we speak, you can still see clearly evidence of both periods standing here in the city. You’ve got John Lewis [Freedom] Parkway, just down the road from Stone Mountain where Confederate soldiers are etched in the side of a mountain.”
“The city is much like Ellice Littlejohn herself. It is a beautiful, wonderful, complicated place with a complicated past, and I wanted to bring that out in the book. I do mention different parts of the city because the city is so vast, and it is so very different across, you know, everything from West End to Johns Creek and that I think is what makes the city so vibrant and so good and so bad, because we have so many different people and so many different cultures.”
Readers can purchase Wanda M. Morris’s new novel “All Her Little Secrets” and find more information about the author at wandamorriswrites.com/book.
Morris will participate in The National Writers Series’ virtual event, a Black History Month panel discussion, on Feb. 24. She will join Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Vanessa Riley and guest host Rochelle Riley for a conversation about “the joys and struggles of their Black heroines from the 1800s to today,” according to the event website, while sharing each author’s process and sources of inspiration. More information and tickets to this virtual event are available at nationalwritersseries.org/product/black-history-month-panel.