Friday, August 19, 2011
FEATURED AUTHOR: Sharon Ewell Foster
Sharon Ewell Foster - a former Defense Department instructor, writer,
analyst, and logistician, is the only African American to win the Christy
Award for her historical novel, Passing by Samaria,also chosen as the NAACP
Book of the Year in 2000. She is a speaker and author of seven previous
novels that have earned her a loyal following that crosses market, gender,
and racial boundaries. Foster has been a contributor to Daily Guideposts
for over 10 years.
How did you start out your writing career?
First, LaShaunda, congratulations on 11 years! Thank you for all you've
done to bring writers and readers together. Thank you for supporting me.
My first book, Passing by Samaria, was published in 1999 and was the NAACP
Book of the Year in 2000. I think I've been in shock since the time someone
told me they wanted to publish it, until now. I didn't ever really believe
I would be published. I am thankful to God and to all the readers who have
supported and encouraged me.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I started out to write a book about the historical figure, Nat Turner. All
the history is based on a pamphlet called The Confessions of Nat Turner as
told to an attorney, Thomas Gray. I spent five years--analyzing trial
transcripts, interviewing descendants, checking records, what I learned was
that it was all a lie. The story we've been told for 180 years is a lie, a
cover up. I learned that people in power have been lying for 180 years. I
want people to read the book, The Resurrection of Nat Turner, and spread the
August 22 will be the 180th anniversary of the revolt. Read the book;
spread the truth.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I thought that as a person of color, I could humanize Nat Turner. . . tell
the story of his wife, his child, his mother. Now, I want to yell the
truth. It was all a lie. This has been like writing Roots meets The
DaVinci Code. Now, I want people to know the truth about Nat Turner. I
want teachers to teach it. I want people to know and be proud of this black
man who stood up for freedom and liberty, who was willing to risk his life
for his family and for his people.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
All of them were really interesting. There are some serious, lying
villains. But I think I really enjoyed writing his mother. She was
Ethiopian and I learned so much about the ancient culture--castles and
cathedrals in Africa, Black images of Mary and Jesus on the church
walls--images that date back to the 4th century. It was very enlightening
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
It's a very unpredictable business. But what has surprised me most is how
faithful and encouraging my readers are. I get emails: where are you? when
is the next book? keep writing, we need you. Those emails and letters, the
words are so encouraging. I'm grateful. My readers are always in my
prayers and I ask God's blessings on them.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love writing, trying to find the story, and developing it. I used to not
like marketing so much, but I'm enjoying it this time: maybe because I feel
like I'm on a mission to spread the truth about Nat Turner. The powers in
the Old South didn't want us to be proud of him, or proud of ourselves.
We've been living with this lie, teaching this lie, for 180 years.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are
I don't really have any regrets. I'm grateful. Everything hasn't been
perfect, I've had tough times, but I've learned from it all. Even the tough
things have made me a better person.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
There are 101 people who can give you technical advice. But, I would say
don't get caught in the jealousy or envy trap. A lot of writers don't enjoy
the journey because they let jealousy distract them. Do encourage your
brother and sister writers. Pray for them. The good you do will come back
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
Writing is hard, hard work. Be nice to writers. Getting published doesn't
mean you're rich. lol. It's like the movie business. The publishers are
looking at sales. If you want writers like Maya Angelou, Walter Moseley,
Jacquelin Thomas, or even me, to keep being published you have to support by
buying books--especially in the first three months. Otherwise, we'll fade
away . . . there won't be quality black books or movies.
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
It's hard for me to answer about a character. I love reading. I enjoy
characters, but my mother, Armeta, told us, "To thine own self be true!"
She drilled it into my brothers and me. I like who I am. Now, there are
places in books I'd like to travel to and characters I'd like to meet. In
one of my books, Ain't No Valley, one of my characters ends up living near a
beach in California and she meets Sly Stone. I would enjoy that. lol
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I read, I volunteer, and I swim. I take a powerhouse water aerobics class.
I also really enjoy movies.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I connect with readers by email, Facebook, and at book signings. I do a
number of speaking engagements and teach writing workshops at conferences.
I'm thinking of trying to skype and teach classes online.
Our theme for this month is NON-FICTION. Have you ever written non-fiction?
If so what did you write?
The Resurrection of Nat Turner is fact-based, but I've also contributed
non-fiction pieces to SistahFaith, Tavis Smiley's Keepin' the Faith, The
Women of Color Devotional Bible, and I've been a regular contributor to
Daily Guideposts for over 10 years.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
Funny. I was just speaking a scholarship banquet about what I know for
It's online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjTJCAYE470
But for today, if you seek the truth, you'll find it.
The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses
The truth has been buried more than one hundred years . . . Leading a small
army of slaves, Nat Turner was a man born with a mission: to set the
captives free. When words failed, he ignited an uprising that left over
fifty whites dead. In the predawn hours of August 22, 1831, Nat Turner
stormed into history with a Bible in one hand, brandishing a sword in the
other. His rebellion shined a national spotlight on slavery and the state of
Virginia and divided a nation's trust. Turner himself became a lightning rod
for abolitionists like Harriet Beecher Stowe and a terror and secret shame
for slave owners. In The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses,
Nat Turner's story is revealed through the eyes and minds of slaves and
masters, friends and foes. In their words is the truth of the mystery and
conspiracy of Nat Turner's life, death, and confession. The Resurrection of
Nat Turner spans more than sixty years, sweeping from the majestic highlands
of Ethiopia to the towns of Cross Keys and Jerusalem in Southampton County.
Using extensive research, Sharon Ewell Foster breaks hallowed ground in this
epic novel, revealing long-buried secrets about this tragic hero.
Audiobook Prologue excerpt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJNQRCoObKw
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