Enquirer Herald

Overcoming adversity

YORK -- York native Ravion Mackins Eregbu wants her new book to wage war against low self-esteem and lack of ambition in young women.

Eregbu, 32, will release "Soldieress Chronicles," her first published work, on Friday. The book, published by Xlibris, is about a fictional woman who overcomes an abusive childhood after joining the Army.

Now married and residing in Atlanta, Eregbu was raised in York. She graduated from York Comprehensive High School in 1994. She is the daughter of Maeola Robbins, a York resident who works at Cotton Belt Elementary School.

Eregbu, pronounced a-RAY-bu, served in the U.S. Army as a finance specialist at Fort Bragg until 2004.

Today, she works for the Georgia Department of Labor assisting disabled veterans who need jobs.

Eregbu spoke this week with the Enquirer-Herald about the inspiration for her book and what lessons can be gleaned from her writing. Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Question: What is a "Soldieress"?

Answer: A Soldieress is about being a soldier in everyday life. I want to help women have better self-esteem, bigger goals and more ambition. Being a Soldieress is about forgiving the people who have hurt you and moving on to achieve your dreams.

Q: What inspired you to write the book?

A: Seeing how women are portrayed today in the media and on reality shows. Too many times women are shown to be weak and almost crazy sometimes. But women are capable of accomplishing so many good things.

I wanted to help women reach those goals and not just accept the role they might feel stuck in.

Q: Which people in your life are examples of a Soldieress?

A: The women I came in contact with in the Army. Sometimes we'd just sit in the barracks and talk about why we joined the Army. We all had similar stories. And I saw how these women were overcoming their obstacles everyday. The book is a fictional novel, but it's really a combination of my experiences and the experiences of three other women I knew in the Army.

Q: What can male readers learn from the book?

A: I think men can get several things from the book, too. The story shows men that it's about being there emotionally for their daughters, not just financially.

It also shows fathers how important it is to communicate with their children. The character in the book, a lot of her struggles stem from an absent father.

Q: Does your upbringing in York play a role in the book's theme?

A: Absolutely. I love York. It's a wonderful place. But a lot of my friends growing up were afraid to leave. Moving somewhere bigger scared them. I think the book will inspire people to see what else is out there.

Q: Are there any references to York in the book?

A: Originally, I was using York and Rock Hill as the setting for the whole book. But like I said, some of the stories came from real experiences, so I had to change the setting for various reasons. The story is set in Columbia and the small towns of Winnsboro and Ridgeway.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: In the military, I used to write letters to my mom back home in York. She told me it felt like she was right there with me when she read my letters. You could say my mom is the one who kicked it off.

Q: What's next?

A: I want to start a Soldieress movement. I want to be able to talk with women, especially single women who are afraid to leave abusive relationships or women who don't think they can become financially independent. That's why I'm starting the Soldieress Foundation, to raise money to pay for women who need help with college tuition or leaving an abusive relationship.

My work is about forgiveness and rebuilding self-esteem.

Q: Where can we buy the book?

A: It will go on sale Jan. 2 on my Web site, www.soldieresschronicles.com.

This spring you can also find it at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores.

And I'm having a book release party on Jan. 24 at the Embassy Suites in Charlotte from 7 to 11 p.m.