Monday, January 18, 2010

Meet Kay Marshall Strom-Book Giveaway!

LISA HARRIS: Today I’d like to welcome Kay Marshall Strom! With an upcoming release of my own set in Africa that deals with modern-day slavery issues, I am particularly interested in Kay’s book that deals with slavery in the historic setting of West Africa.

Welcome Kay. Tell us a little about yourself.

KAY: I am a writer/speaker/wife/mom/traveler/shaker-up of comfortable thinking. Topics that challenge us to think globally and outside safe parameters especially attract me. I am a Christian who is more interested in what Jesus and the Bible truly teach than in what the loud talkers among us tell us we should think. It used to be that I thought my voice was limited to writing non-fiction—which I do enjoy, by the way—but to my great joy I’ve discovered that fiction can be an amazing way to communicate. Thank you, Grace Winslow (my main character in The Call of Zulina) for teaching me this great lesson!

LISA: How long have you been writing, and how many books do you have published?

KAY: I’ve been writing my entire life, but I really began to look toward publication about twenty-five years ago. I have 36 published books.

LISA: I’m particularly interested in your story, as I used to live in West Africa. Tell me about the book you’re featuring today and especially its international setting.

KAY: The Call of Zulina is Book 1 of a three-book saga. Set in West Africa, it centers around Grace Winslow, daughter of a British slave ship captain father and an African mother. Trapped in a marriage arrangement with a pompous, disgusting white slave trader, she flees her home and ends up in the middle of a slave revolt at Zulina slave fortress. It is there that she comes to understand the horrific nature of her family’s involvement in the slave trade. Grace is forced to choose a side—slave or slaver—and to live with the consequences of her choice.

LISA: What made you want to write this story/your connection to this setting?

KAY: While I was in Senegal, West Africa, working on Once Blind: The Life of John Newton, I toured an old slave fortress and was struck dumb by a set of baby-sized manacles bolted to the wall. Shortly afterward, while researching John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace”—a slaver turned pastor/abolitionist—I read about an English slave trader and his African wife who ran a slave business. I couldn’t help but wonder: “If they’d had a daughter, who would she be—English or African? Where would her loyalties lie?” That was the birth of this story. Grace is that daughter with one foot in each world, but who belongs in neither.

LISA: What research did you have to do for this book?

KAY: Because so many factors and players came together to make the African slave trade so horrific, I needed to do research from many different points of view—colonial, African, financial, industrial. (It was shockingly astounding to hear the righteous indignation with which white traders fought back against those who challenged them, for instance.) My research included personal trips to the “slave coast” of Africa and a subsequent trip to the Goree Island slave fortress, as well as a wide variety of reading and interviews.

LISA: What was your favorite part of writing this book?

KAY: Discovering the strength of Grace Winslow! I saw this strength and endurance exemplified by women I met in Africa—especially those in Sudan. As I read the stories of men and women ripped away from their homes and lives and forced to endure such dehumanizing circumstances, I pictured the women I met in Sudan.

LISA: The hardest?

KAY: The hardest part by far was coming to understand the searing depths of the African slave trade degradation.

LISA: This is a horrid reality that continues to this day. What are you working on now or going to write next?

KAY: The Call of Zulina is just the first book in the Grace in Africa trilogy. Book 2, The Voyage of Promise, is on the editor’s desk and scheduled for release next fall (2010), but I’m still finishing Book 3, The Triumph of Grace (due for release spring 2011). After that I will be starting another international trilogy: Blessings in India. This will follow the course of two Indian families through three generations: One—privileged, high-caste landowners—pride themselves on being descendants of first-century converts to Christianity, yet they cling to the Hindu beliefs of karma and caste subjugation. The other family, the Blessings, are despised untouchables who struggle to eke out a subsistence survival in the garbage heaps on the fringes of Indian society. The first book of this trilogy is due for release in September 2011.

LISA: What are you currently reading?

KAY: I just finished Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang. It’s a real-life saga of a Chinese family that endured three generations of violence and heartbreaking tragedy in the name of a country’s progress.

LISA: Tell us something fun about yourself that readers may not know.

KAY: One of my side proclivities is speaking on cruise ships in exchange for fun cruises for my husband and me. There is no end to the places I want to go and the things I want to see!

Now that’s a job I need to have, Kay. ☺ Thanks so much for being a part of our blog. I’m really looking forward to reading Graces’s story.

Kay has graciously offered to give away a copy of The Call of Zulina. This contest is open to any address worldwide, so leave a comment below with a way to contact you. I will draw a winner on January 30th!

To read more about Kay and her writing, please visit her website!


  1. This sounds like a book I would love to read. I'd sure like to win it.

    Thank you so much for doing this interview. I appreciate both of you for your part in i. Our world is so full of contradictions and you see that whenever the idea of slavery is mentioned.

    I'm looking forward to reading all three of these books. You can reach me on my blog and the email address is in my profile. Thank you for having this contest. A great good fortune to both of you.

    ~ Just Joany
    Red Wagon Flights

  2. Great interview. I really want to read this book! Please enter me.

    Michelle V

  3. Can't wait to read it. In case I don't win, I just put in a request for my library to buy it!

  4. Love the interview and the book sounds very interesting.
    Please, count me in

  5. Lisa, great interview! Kay, the premise for your story is fascinating and it sounds like a great read :-)

  6. A fascinating interview. Made me love Grace Winslow already! So good to see how well researched the book obviously is too. I'd love a copy and can be contacted at jo-anne[at]

  7. Kay, I can't begin to imagine what it would have been like for the women to be taken from their homes to be used as slaves.
    Thank you for bringing this knowledge to me in your book. You book will fill a gap in my bookshelf because I know very little about the slave trade. Grace sounds like a woman of great character and strength.

  8. I thought it was interesting how researching John Newton inspired Kay to write this story. The Call of Zulina has been on my wish list since it first came out and I greatly appreciate the chance to win a copy.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net