Monday, August 23, 2010

Interview with Kay Marshall Strom and Book Giveaway

Narelle here. I'm delighted to welcome back Kay Marshall Strom to our blog. Today we’re giving away a copy of Kay’s September release, The Voyage of Promise. Please note the giveaway is limited to residents in the USA and Canada.

Kay Marshall Strom is the author of thirty-five published books. Four were chosen as book club selections, nine have been translated into foreign languages, and one was optioned for a movie. Her current Grace in Africa trilogy has received high praise in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. Kay, travels the globe, speaking out against social injustice, especially modern-day slavery. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest.

“This compelling drama will challenge readers to remember slavery’s brutal history, and its heroic characters will inspire them. Highly recommended. An excerpt from The Call of Zulina Library Journal starred review.

Grace Winslow, the daughter of a mixed marriage between an English sea captain and an African princess, escapes a detestable betrothal and is swept up in a slave revolt. As the truth about the fortress Zulina unfolds, Grace begins to grasp the brutality and ferocity of the family business—the capture and trade of slaves. She knows freedom and she knows slavery. But Grace will not be enslaved, and she will not give up on the man she loves. Through her struggles in West Africa and London, she finds God reaching out to her.

Narelle: Grace Winslow is the daughter of an English slave trader and his African wife. How has her mixed cultural heritage influenced her thoughts and ideas on slavery?

Kay: That’s the big issue. Despite being pulled between her father’s wish for an “English lass” and her mother’s desire for a daughter of Africa, Grace reaps the privileges of growing up on the side of power. Yet she suffers greatly from her parents’ “slave or slaver” mentality. In book 1, The Call of Zulina, a major theme is her need to choose a side—slave or slaver—then to live with the consequences of her choice.

Narelle: What do you find most fascinating about 18th Century West Africa?

Kay: Thanks to the West’s rabid hunger for slave labor, the African coast was ravaged and oppressed, and tribes armed with guns and gunpowder were set one against the other. The first time I visit a reconstructed slave fortress—the prototype for Zulina Fortress—I was struck dumb by the sight of a pair of baby-sized manacles bolted to the wall. The most fascinating thing about 18th century West Africa? What depths to which otherwise decent human beings can plunge when driven by greed, their eyes fixed on money and power.

Narelle: Please share with us a few of your research tips.

Kay: Much of my writing is non-fiction, focused on international social justice. I call myself a 21st Century Abolitionist. It was in my research and travels to Africa for other books that I found the seeds of “Grace in Africa.” The prototype for Grace’s parents, Joseph Winslow and Lingongo, are the real life 18th century couple who kept John Newton (author of Amazing Grace) enslaved for almost a year. Of course I read, read, read everything I could about the era. But my travels to West Africa brought the whole situation alive. Also, I developed friendships with several Africans, and was able to call on them for help and advice.

Narelle: The Voyage of Promise is book 2 of your Grace in Africa trilogy. We first meet Grace in The Call of Zulina, and The Voyage of Promise is the continuation of Grace’s story. How has Grace’s faith evolved and influenced her decisions?

Kay: On my trips to Africa, I’ve been greatly impressed with the stories of people who have had absolutely no Christian contact except a Bible or New Testament they found somewhere. I wanted to reflect that in the book. Grace could have talked with a Christian and had a dramatic conversion in book 1, but that just didn’t ring true. So, yes, her faith definitely does evolve.

In book 1, the spiritual influence is the slave who raised Grace—Mama Muco who, as a child, came in contact with a Western missionary. Mama Muco saved the missionary’s Bible, and Grace teaches her to read it. Though Mama Muco’s faith is strong, her knowledge is sketchy.

In book 2, Grace comes in contract with several people of faith who offer her more guidance. Also, she is confined for many weeks on board a ship to England with nothing to do but read the Bible. Grace’s evolving faith does influence her decisions, and it leads her to challenge the duplicity of the Christian slavers.

And then in book 3—The Triumph of Grace, due out in February—well, you’ll have to wait and see!

Narelle: Please tell us about your upcoming releases.

Kay: Book 1, The Call of Zulina, released last year, is set in West Africa in 1787. Grace, na├»ve and protected, is caught up in a raging slave rebellion at her parents’ slave fortress. With a foot in each world, she must choose her allegiance, and be willing to pay for her choice with her life.

Book 2, The Voyage of Promise, takes place five years later, after villagers have grown comfortable and complacent. Slavers burst back into Grace’s life with guns blazing and tear her family apart forever. Old enemies reappear, but so do friends she never knew she had. This book starts in West Africa, then sails to London where abolition groups brew. But the opposition there is powerful, aggressive, wealthy, and wields terrifying influence. Once again, Grace is caught in the middle. Though it seems hopeless, she will not give up her determination to reunite with her husband. (This book will be released September 1)

Book 3, The Triumph of Grace, takes up the action the following year and moves from London to the plantations of South Carolina, and then… Nope! Can’t give it away. (This will be released February 1, 2011)

Kay, thanks for joining us today. By commenting on today’s post, USA and Canadian residents can enter the drawing to win a copy of The Voyage of Promise. The drawing will take place on Friday, August 27 and the winner announced on Sunday, August 29. Please leave an email address [ ] at [ ] dot [ ] where you can be reached.

"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."

Lisa Harris posted an interview with Kay on January 18. You can read Lisa's interview here.

To learn more about Kay Marshall Strom and her books, please visit her website.

Narelle Atkins writes contemporary inspirational romance. She resides in Canberra, Australia with her husband and children. To learn more about Narelle, please visit her website.


  1. a wonderful interview/posting...thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  2. Please enter me in this contest. Thank you for the giveaway.


  3. karenk and Carol, thanks for stopping by and good luck in the drawing :-)

  4. After reading so much light fiction, The Call of Zulina was a refreshing, challenging and eye opening novel. Definitely not a comfortable read, but a wonderful story that needed telling. I eagerly await the other two books in this series and appreciate the chance to win The Voyage of Promise. Best wishes on your continued writing, Kay.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  5. Sounds like a fascinating story. I would love to read this book.


  6. I enjoy historical romances. This one sounds good.

  7. I find books written with history in mind so intriguing. It always amazes me in fiction books how a lot ends up being based on truths.

    This book sounds wonderful and would love to read it.

    danellejohns at gmail dot com