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Friday, March 09, 2012

Guest Blogger Kay Marshall Strom and The Hope of Shridula


KAY MARSHALL STROM is the author of forty books, including The Faith of Ashish (book 1) and The Hope of Shridula (book 2) of the Blessings in India trilogy. She also wrote the highly acclaimed Grace in Africa trilogy, with books 1 and 2 named in ALA Booklist’s Top Ten inspirational fiction of 2010 and 2011. Kay travels the globe, speaking out against social injustice, especially modern-day slavery. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest.

THE HOPE OF SHRIDULA (book 2 in the Blessings in India trilogy
by Kay Marshall Strom
Published by Abingdon Press


India 1946: For forty-eight years, Shridula’s family toiled as virtual slaves in the fields of the high-caste Mammen family, all because of her grandfather’s small debt. Her name, like that of her father Ashish, means blessing. When Shridula was born, her father said, “Maybe the name will bring her more fortune than it brought me.” His words prove prophetic in more ways than he ever could have imagined. Shridula works in the home of the oppressive, so-called Christian, landowner—a terrifying place. Despite all, she gets a glimpse of Christianity. As flames of revolt burn through India, God’s hand is on Shridula. Hope comes to her in many ways—through the Bible given to her father many years earlier, through the landowner’s daughter, through clouds of war, and through an aging missionary time forgot.

Readers, buy your copy of The Hope of Shridula today!


Researching Around the World
by: Kay Marshall Strom

An “Untouchable” Indian family, bowed beneath the oppression of the caste system, fights its way toward freedom and faith.

Slave traders swagger though the Slave Coast of Africa, totally unaware that God is at work. Very soon their lives will change, and nothing will ever be the same again.

In the hill country of Nepal, traffickers weave a tight and vicious web. One small girl outsmarts them all.

Each of these is the premise of one of my books (or, in one case, a chapter in one). Some are historical, others current. Some deal lightly with the global setting, others are intricately interwoven with it. But one thing is always the same:  Readers who may never see these places expect the book to be specific and accurate. How do I know? Because they tell me. The following are excerpts from readers’ actual messages followed by my answers:

“I was dumbfounded by Grace and all she went through in the three Grace in Africa books. Was that true?  How do you know?” – Natalie W.

Yes, Natalie, the premise was true. Grace’s parents—an English slave trader and his African wife—were fashioned after real people I “met” while I was in West Africa researching Once Blind: The Story of John Newton. I spent a great deal of time in a restored slave holding fortress (Goree Island), looking and reading and asking questions. I fashioned Zulina Fortress after it (The Call of Zulina).

“I just finished reading The Hope of Shridula [book 2 of the Blessings in India trilogy]. I’d never heard much about what went on with India’s independence, and I knew nothing about the partition of Pakistan. How do you know all that is true?” –Jon

First of all, I read and read and read. I read history written from India’s viewpoint, from the British viewpoint, and from Pakistan’s viewpoint. I also talked about my project on Facebook. To my great joy, an Indian Facebook friend put me in touch with an old man who, at the age of 15, had served in the Indian army on the front lines during partition. He told me so much, and sent me painfully insightful documents. 

“Can you really speak the Indian language? You use it in The Faith of Ashish and The Hope of Shridula. How did you learn it?” –Carolyn B.

Although the official language of India is Hindi, and the language of education and business is English, the languages spoken in that country number in the many thousands.  In the books, I used Malayalam, the language spoken in the Southern state of Kerala.  I don’t speak the language.  I used an on-line language translator and had help from Indian friends.

“Do you really go to all the places you write about?” –Kim Y.

Yep, Kim, I do. I don’t think one can really write the details of a location unless he or she has been there to see and hear and smell and taste. It is so important to meet the people and listen to what they have to say.  Of course, a short visit doesn’t give you everything you need. But another benefit of going is that you meet local people you can contact for specific help. (“Those little red African flowers that are brewed into tea… what are they called?”) Sometimes you can even find local people willing to read over your manuscript and point out errors. (“No, no!  Your Untouchable Indian character cannot have a silver necklace. Before independence, Untouchables were not allowed to touch metal.”)

“What is the most important thing you’ve learned about the world?” –Frederick L.

I began my travels thinking I had so much to share with my global brothers and sisters. But, oh, they have so much more to teach me. The most important thing I’ve learned is to close my mouth and listen.

* * * * *

Thank you, Kay, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question: What is most important to you when read a book with a foreign setting?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a FREE copy of the book above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the contest is open to residents of the US/Canada only.


Lori Weller said...

When I read a book with a foreign setting, I try to learn as much as I can about their customs. Especially about their concepts of family. Thank you for your giveaway.

Judy said...

It is important that the author gives some background of the customs of the country. Also, their family dynamics etc. Most women in foreign countries aren't treated with respect so it is nice for the author to include that in her/his book.

This sounds like an interesting book that I would love to read. The cover caught my interest as well as the title.


Linda said...

Learning their concept of God, their openness to Jesus as their only Savior. How they manage to put away their long-held idols. Growing up in a Christian nation, I find that very interesting. Your book cover seems to say it all--hope.

Thank you for a chance to win your book.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Cheryl said...

Oh, I didn't know Kay had a new book out. How wonderful.

Like Judy, I want the author to provide a solid background on the culture, at least to how that culture plays a role in the story. I also want to know what any words mean that are said in a different language.

Congratulations to Kay on her new series.



Kaystrom said...

You all are so right. You cannot come to a book with a foreign setting without having an understanding of the local culture. It's unfair to readers, and also to characters who become "stereotypical" at best, insultingly wrong at worst.