How closely is The Call of Zulina based on your life experiences?
I have certainly struggled with the dilemma of having one foot in each of two worlds and not quite belonging in either.
How long did The Call of Zulina take you to complete?
That’s hard to say. The first draft was completed in a couple of months. But it went through two major revisions after that, and because it was a back-burner project, time passed between revisions. From the time I first started until it was in final form was about two years.
Do you have a favorite character in The Call of Zulina? Why?
Grace. She is headstrong and comfortably naïve. And yet, when faced with the hard truth, she moves past herself and becomes what she was meant to be.
How much research did The Call of Zulina take?
A huge amount, because it is set in a time and place outside my experience. But I truly loved the research. And I had the benefit of Senegalese friends who speak indigenous languages and live in the area.
What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing The Call of Zulina?
We all know something of the awfulness of the slave trade, but the evidence of total callous disregard of human life was staggering. It’s terrifying to see the horror of which good, God-fearing people are capable, and how they can rationalize their actions away with selected quotes from the Bible.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Time… time… time! Also, because I often write about social injustice, there’s the inherent frustration of wanting to grab hold and change things.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
Certain issues are really important to me, such as fighting slavery in our world today. Writing provides me with a unique platform for making people aware of these issues and helping them see how they can be involved in solutions
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? (Or somewhere in-between?)
I am a pretty organized writer. I gather information, then make a fairly detailed chapter outline. Then I write a first draft: no corrections, no rethinking—just pouring it out. (I love this step!) Then I write a second draft: bringing order out of chaos. (This is the painful step.) Then I do a final draft.