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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Author Interview - Kay Marshall Strom

I'd like to introduce Kay Marshall Strom, Author of The Call of Zulina, part of the new fiction launch by Abingdon Press. I first met Kay at Abingdon's Writer's Retreat in Pennsylvania. (We are in the photo to the right in our rocking chairs. I'm on the left and she is on the right.) Kay has a strong faith and warm heart that touches everyone around her. I admire her for all she has allowed God to do in her life. I can't wait to read her latest book. We'll be giving away a free autographed copy to one blessed reader who leaves a comment with an email address. We will draw a name out of the group of comments. I'll draw the name on Friday and contact the winner by email.

1. Describe your writing journey. How did you first get published?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t begin my own journey until my children started school. I took my first manuscript to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and showed it to an editor. I beamed; she yawned. But I attended her writing track and learned the things I should have known in the first place, then I resubmitted my manuscript to her. The result was my first book. That was over twenty years ago. Since then I have written 36 books, more articles than I can count, several movie and TV scripts, curriculum—you name it, I’ve written it. I also teach writing through colleges and writers conferences.

2. What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?

Learn your craft. It doesn’t work to just start writing and trust that somehow your words will weave together and carry you to best-sellerdom. Write right, then keep on writing and don’t give up. Everyone gets better and better; no one gets worse and worse.

3. 3. Tell us about your latest book.

The Call of Zulina is the first book of a three-book historical saga. Set in West Africa, it centers around Grace Winslow, whose mother is African royalty and her father a British sea captain. She escapes a marriage arrangement to a pompous, offensive white slave trader only to end 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. With one foot in each of two worlds, she is forced to choose a side—slave or slaver—and to pay the price of her choice.

4. What are you currently writing?

I have two more books coming out in the Grace in Africa series. Book 2 is mainly set in London in 1792, and Book 3 (which I’m working on now) is mainly set in the new United States in 1793. I’m currently talking with Abingdon about a trilogy set in India, a saga covering thee generations of a family of “untouchables” and the high caste family that controls their lives. In these books, we would see Christianity collide with Hinduism.

5. Where do you get ideas for stories?

Getting ideas is no problem. My idea file is bulging. This one came while I was researching two non-fiction books. While I was in West Africa working on Daughters of Hope, I toured an old slave fortress and was struck dumb by a set of baby-sized manacles bolted to the wall. Not long after, while I was researching Once Blind: The Life of John Newton (the author of the hymn Amazing Grace was a slaver turned preacher and abolitionist) I “met” a couple who had run a slave business in Africa in the 1700s. I wondered, If that couple had had a daughter, who would she be, English or African? And where would her loyalties lie? Story question—the birth of a book!

6. How long does it normally take you to write a book? How many books do you write per year?

Depending on how much research and foreign travel are required, it usually takes me about three months to write a book. Last year I wrote four books…made research trips to Egypt, India, Nepal… and moved from California to Oregon! I never want to do all that in one year again!

7. Do you edit as you go or wait until completing the first draft? How many drafts?

I am a pretty organized writer. I gather info, then I make a fairly detailed chapter outline and attach all my research to the appropriate chapter. (This is a time-consuming step, but the better I do this, the easier and more trouble-free the actual writing.) 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 to the first, rewriting, switching info to another chapter, and so forth. (This is the painful step.) Then I do a final draft: polishing, fixing, double checking info. I move away from the project for a week or two and do something completely different and my husband reads it and makes corrections and suggestions. (He’s great!) I consider my husband’s comments, then I go back and reread the entire manuscript out loud one last time.

To learn more about Kay, visit her website at:


And the Winner is...

Patricia Woodside!

My hubby pulled your name out of the pile. I hope you enjoy The Call of Zulina! I'll be contacting you by email.


How amazing to be able to write a book in three months. I am in awe! Your interview gave some very good lessons I will surely glean from and use in the future.
I would love to be entered in the drawing for the book, also.
Thanks and blessings,
Donna Collins Tinsley

No doubt this interview will be helpful to many of the writers and wanna-be writers here in cyberspace. In fact, it almost makes me want to tackle a book myself. Almost.

Be blessed,

I love books set in Africa and confronting challenging issues like slavery. One of my favorite novels ever is A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory. I'm so happy to hear that Abingdon has taken on this project.

Thanks for visiting my blog today....sweet of you to comment. I was just spending too much time with the whole facebook thing.Stop by anytime. Nice to sorta meet you. I will check your books out.....

Great interview. Sounds like an interesting book. I'm fascinated by that slave trading period in global history. Nice to see writers and publishers taking this on.

Great interview! I love it when Kay says:

"Write right, then keep on writing and don’t give up. Everyone gets better and better; no one gets worse and worse."

I'd loved to be entered in the drawing for Kay's book!


I love the organization! That's the way I like to work. Thanks for the encouragement.
Please enter me in the drawing!

I want to read call of Zulina! What a great and inspirational interview!

The two of you look like you're practicing for the golden years!

Great interview!

I'm so impressed and grateful for all Kay does for writing and the world as God's servant.


Great interview Jennifer and Kay! Sept 2nd thru 4th, Call Of Zulina will be featured as a blog tour with Christian Fiction Blog Alliance so I invite all to come and follow the tour.

Great interview! Lots of good information for new writers. This book sounds great! I love this time period and the storyline sounds intriguing!