Michelle Duster is a part-time instructor in the Business and Entrepreneurship department and great granddaughter of Chicago journalist and suffragist activist Ida B. Wells. Michelle teaches Business Writing at Columbia College Chicago and recently released her book, Ida B. the Queen, which made Forbes’ list of the 10 Most Anticipated Books of 2021. We talked to Michelle about her inspiration and experience writing her book.
Congratulations on the recent release of Ida B. the Queen! What inspired you to write this book?
I wrote IDA B THE QUEEN to share and celebrate her truth and enduring legacy with a new generation, and my hope is that they will be inspired by her story and galvanized to continue to fight for a better world.
Were there any stories about your great grandmother that surprised you while doing research for this book?
While working on the book I was able to access the FBI files on her which were fascinating to read. It surprised me how much the government considered her to be a threat.
What was the most unexpected part of publishing your book?
The editing process was much more intense than I anticipated.
How does your writing work impact the classes that you teach at Columbia College Chicago?
Since I have been involved in several major public history projects that have required writing proposals and interacting with various stakeholders, I bring that experience and perspective of how to communicate in a persuasive way to different people to my students.
What advice do you have for other aspiring writers?
Write what you care about and don’t worry about necessarily “hitting it big.” You also need to be willing to do a lot of work for free in order to gain experience, exposure, and a reputation.