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Kay Marshall StromOf Kay Marshall Strom’s 39 published books, four have been book club selections, nine have been translated into foreign languages, and one has been optioned for a movie. Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, two prize-winning screenplays, books and stories for children, and booklets for writers. Her writing has appeared in several volumes, including More Than Conquerors, Amazing Love, The NIV Couple's Devotional Bible and
Titles: The Call of Zulina (2009)

Favorite verse: Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.


 

 Our Interview with Kay Marshall Strom


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a follower of Christ with a passion for the worldwide family of God.  A 21st century abolitionist; that’s what I call myself. I am wife, mother to my children, teacher, writer of 40 books, speaker. More and more, my writing and speaking take me to various corners of the world. Fortunately, I love to travel.
 
What is your favorite Bible verse (translation too, please)? Why?

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8 (NIV)

That passage moved my young-girl heart and, despite many twists and turns, led me to the type of writing I do.

How did you come up with the concept for Faith of Ashish?
 
During my frequent trips to India over the last decade, I have interviewed hundreds of people—some from every caste.  One man told me of his father who had to wear a metal cover over his mouth so as not to pollute the road for caste members (as opposed to outcastes).  That man spoke passionately and from terrible personal experience.  It was from his stories that Ashish and his family began to take shape.

What was your inspiration to develop the story The Blessings of India series?

Several years ago, I had the privilege of touring Ireland with the promotion team for the movie Amazing Grace.  I met Kolakaluri Sam Paul, an Indian Christian who spoke each night on slavery, 21st century style.  At the end of our time together, Sam said to me, “You should write about the plight of the Dalits in India.  People don’t understand the oppression and discrimination we endure, because we have no one to tell our story.”  

Having been in India a number of times, I was well acquainted with the horrors endured by the 300 million or so outcastes (formerly called Untouchables).  I came home to book projects already in progress, but I could not get Sam’s request out of my mind.

How much of the story is historical fact?

While the story and characters are fictitious, of course, the story is built on historical fact. I heard many stories of outcastes beaten severely for drinking from an upper caste well, just as little Ashish does in the story. And his father’s walk through the village to see the landlord moneylender: Virat had to wear a cover over his mouth to keep any possible drop of spittle from polluting the road, a broom on his back to sweep away his polluted steps, a drum to beat and warn high caste villagers that a polluted Untouchable was daring to approach.  All this was horribly true. I did my best to make certain everything was as accurate as possible, especially things readers might consider over-the-top.

Do you have a favorite character in Faith of Ashish? Why?

Hard question!  I love every one of them (well, not every one!)  Maybe I will have to say Ashish’s father, Virat.  He displays such love for his child.  He is willing to give up his freedom for him.  Even his life.

How much research did Faith of Ashish take?

Much research.  Much, much, much!  I read books, I talked with people in India, I pulled out all my reams of India interviews and combed through them.  Still, I am well aware of the fact that I am not Indian.  And though I have witnessed their persecution, it didn’t happen to me. So when the book was finished I sent it to a couple of Indian scholars and asked them to read for accuracy.

 

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Faith of Ashish?

A couple of years ago, my husband and I met a beautiful dimpled two-year-old girl being raised by a couple who ran an orphanage for young boys not too far from Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley.  Why was the little girl there?  She had the audacity to be born a girl, so her father buried her alive!  The couple rescued her and are raising her.  Can you imagine?

The oppression and discrimination Dalits suffered—and still do suffer—is truly staggering.  But no book research alone could have instilled such a depth of passion.  That came from watching women sitting beside piles of rocks. Their job was to chop up the rocks with little hammers to make hand-made gravel.

Based on the premise of the story, was it hard to write when you researched the darker side of history?

A bit.  But I knew that the facts were true.  And I always had Sam Paul’s face before me, pleading with me to tell their story.

Was it difficult to find factual information?
 
No, though it sometimes took a great deal of digging.  To be honest, I do not think I could have done it without walking the roads with those who live the untouchable curse and observing their lives.

How many books will be in the Blessings of India Series?

Three: The Faith of Ashish Released August 2011
  The Hope of Shriudula TBR March 1, 2012
  The Love of Divena TBR August 2012

Have you been to India?
 
Oh, yes.  Eight times in the past ten years.  My husband and I will go back in February for an Indian release of The Faith of Ashish, and I’m also scheduled to go back in November 2012 to speak and to conduct more interviews.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
Time!  Time, time, time!  People always ask: “But where do you get your ideas?”  That is the easy part. Would that I could live long enough to use up all the ideas in my idea file! I need more hours in my day~!

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Hmmm… At every step of the project, I find both challenges and blessings.  Maybe I would say I especially enjoy planning a new project and laying it out.  It is all so exciting!  And I do like the research, too.  I learn ten times as much as ever makes it into the book.

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

I am loosely affiliated with several, but not too involved with any. AWSA is one I especially appreciate. Also Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California. It’s a great place to pool ideas with the best in Christian writing. In addition, I meet regularly with another author to critique and encourage. We both feel as though we are learning a great deal from each other.

What new projects are on the horizon?

I will be updating my 2002 non-fiction book The Cancer Survival Guide (Beacon Hill Publishers). After that, we’ll see. I have two book proposals pending, but my husband and I are looking forward to collaborating on a new fiction series I would call contemporary mystery/global fiction.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Faith of Ashish?

God reaches out to us where we are. He does not necessarily give us what we want, but He provides what we need.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I know this will sound silly, but my early favorite was 50 Famous Fairy Tales. I must have read that book fifty times! I could recite stories. In eighth grade, I read my favorite book of all time: The Tale of Two Cities. That’s when I knew I wanted to write.

 

What is your greatest achievement?

Raising two wonderful children.  They are now two wonderful adults, both with sharp minds and gentle hearts.

What do you do to get away from it all?

My husband and I bought a hot tub/spa.  I cannot tell you how much I love it!  We go out almost every morning after breakfast and read magazines, talk, watch the birds at the feeders…  After half an hour I come out so refreshed I am ready for anything that comes my way!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I so appreciate all the readers who are willing to step outside their own comfort zone and delve into unfamiliar surroundings—India, for instance.  I have great hopes for the genre I call “global fiction.”


 

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