Welcome to the blog, Steven. Thanks for joining us! What can you tell us about your novel?
This is the story of four slaves who try to escape to the northern area of the United States along the Underground Railroad in 1853.
Kelsa Colver leads her husband and two young sons on the dangerous trek after a fellow slave is murdered by a vindictive slave owner. Along the way, the Colvers are assisted by various abolitionists, including a neighboring farmer, a progressive priest, a sympathetic lawman, and notable figures Harriet Tubman and William Still. However, their efforts are impeded by a dark family secret, and the interventions of a corrupt clergyman, vicious outlaws, and greedy slave hunters.
I’m sure writing historical fiction requires a lot of research! What’s your process for finding those important historical details?
Most of my research came from the book The Underground Railroad by William Still (who appears in my book). His book is really the authority on the subject, as he wrote it in the late 1800s and based it on reports with former slaves who made it to Philadelphia. I also did a large amount of research on the Internet, particularly checking out maps of the time and dates for historical events of the day.
Your story is set during one of the darkest times of our history: a time when slavery of African-Americans was commonplace. Given our current (and much-needed) national conversation about race, I have to ask – do you see writing as a form of activism? What responsibility, if any, do writers have to explore social justice in their work?
I didn’t set out to be an activist when I wrote this story. My goal was to recall a remarkable system that aided slaves in their quest for freedom and the sacrifices made by both black and white folks who risked their lives for a moral cause.
If writers can make a difference with their works, then that is a bonus. As far as responsibility, that falls to each writer to decide what their obligations are.
You’ve written in a variety of genres, including paranormal, mystery, and even a Christmas story. Do you have a favorite genre? Are there genres you’re excited to explore in the future, or genres you find difficult to write?
I never wanted to be pinned to just one genre of writing. I have story ideas that stretch across genres. The most difficult to write would be mysteries. It was my wife Dawn’s idea to try to write a mystery, and that led to the creation of The Manila Strangler. What makes mysteries so difficult is to find something new, and to craft a story that keeps readers guessing until the end. I’m proud to say that I’ve received reviews of The Manila Strangler where readers said they were surprised with the ending. That is about the best compliment a writer can get.
It certainly is! What’s your best piece of writing advice?
All writers need to have thick skins. Go into the process knowing there will be rejections of your work (and lots of them) and there will be doubters who try to tell you that you won’t succeed. Don’t listen to them. If you work hard and you believe in your talent, you will find some level of success. Just don’t give up!
Thank you so much for joining us on the Freelance and Fiction blog!
Thank you again for your interest in Where Freedom Rings: A Tale of the Underground Railroad. I hope your readers enjoy the book.
You can find Steven Donahue’s book at Amazon – and check out his author page, too. Be sure to share this page if you enjoyed the interview!