Recently Anthony Horvath, publisher of Diamonds in the Dust, wrote a guest blog for us. Today I welcome the author—Shirley Tucker. Leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win a copy of Shirley's book.
Born in the doctor’s bed in a leper colony, Shirley Tucker spent her early years in Zambia. Despite having no access to children’s books, her love of story began with her father, who, as his family traveled long distances on dusty roads, entertained them with spontaneous stories of animals . At eight, she moved with her family to Zimbabwe where she eventually became a teacher and told stories of her own. Off on the next leg of her country-hopping life, she moved to South Africa where she met her Canadian husband, Mark. Three wonderful children followed and then another country move – to Canada this time.
In 2007, the children now grown, stayed in Canada while Shirley and Mark returned to South Africa where they founded Phakamani Foundation, an organization that lends money, with training and support, to poor people in South Africa to build small businesses.
Welcome, Shirley. As a fellow South African, I find it very exciting that Diamonds in the Dust, with its South African characters and setting, is being published by an American publisher. How did this come about?
Thank you Ruth. I’d written Diamonds in the Dust and sent it to a few literary agents in the States without success. One day as I was searching for writer’s resources on the web, I saw a novel competition run by Athanatos Ministries and thought it wouldn’t hurt to see if they would accept a foreign submission. They did and, amazingly, I won.
Please tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it.
Coming back to South Africa after living in Canada for fourteen years, I got involved with an organization in our area called Hands at Work, helping with a group of orphans with homework and life-skills training after school once a week. One of the projects I did with them was a writing competition where they were given the opportunity to tell their stories. Their stories exposed me to a whole new world and opened my heart to the enormous challenges they face every day. I realized the children themselves are hidden behind the staggering numbers of orphans. So I wanted to give them a face and tell their stories.
Here's one of the stories:
Themba* started life as a happy little boy whose mother sewed for a living and his father was a truck driver. He was doing well in school but while in grade four his life began to unravel. His parents began to quarrel and before long his mother left the family and he never saw or heard from her again. Life without mom was very difficult but his father did his best to look after Themba* and his two younger brothers.
Then three years later his father became very sick. Sometimes Themba* got up at 4:00 each morning to clean the house and feed his brothers and prepare food for his father for while he was away at school. Only then would he go to school and at break time, he set off again to check on his father.
One day he arrived home to find his father on the floor, unable to move or see. The pot had been left burning on the stove and the house enveloped in smoke. His father asked him to call his uncle but “I didn’t call him because my heart was very painful to see my father dying on the floor. I went … to the corner of the house and I cried there until the bell ringed at school but I was unable to go back because I could not leave him dying.”
His uncle stepped in and took his father to hospital where he stayed for four months. There was no money to get a taxi to see his father and no food in the house to feed himself and his brothers. So he went looking for a job and found one selling fruit and vegetables in a spaza shop. Then news came his father had died. His uncle took the boys to live with him. At first all was well and he thought his uncle “cool” but soon reality sank in. The uncle took everything he wanted from Themba’s* family home and his wife began to mistreat the boys.
The boys called the uncle’s house Egypt “because we were suffering there.” Finally they left the uncle and went to live back home where “we weren’t treated badly anymore.” Two weeks later Masoyi Home Based care, a wonderful organization in the area,found them and gave them food and clothing. He says, “As long as we are together with God, nothing will defeat us.” He goes on to say, ”During those hard times I thought it was punishment from God, but I didn’t know that he is preparing me to be responsible in the future, like today I am responsible to take care of my brothers and our house.”
* Please note, name changed to protect Themba's identity
What a heart-breaking tale, no wonder you wanted to give the orphans a face.
Where can our readers buy Diamonds in the Dust?
Note from the publisher: Diamonds in the Dust is available as an e-book. Here is the link to purchase it directly from us: http://athanatosministries.org/store/products/diamonds-in-the-dust-ebook
For those who cannot use paypal, our credit card processor, they may be able to find it on Kindle, the Nook, or Smashwords. All of those are linked off of that same page.
How did you research your book?
How did you weave in a spiritual thread without being preachy?
Did you have any particular Bible verses running through your mind as you wrote?
What do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
Please tell us about your current book/project.
Wow, that's going to be powerful book.
Thank you sooo much for the interview. I’m really excited about your book and it’s great to have the chance to help promote it.
Shirley has kindly offered to send a copy of Diamonds in the Dust to one lucky reader anywhere in the world. Please leave a comment for Shirley and your email address before Thursday 15th December if you would like to be entered in the draw. The winner will be announced in the Sunday Edition on the 18th December.
The giveaway is 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.