CA: I just returned from a seven-week trip that took me to eleven countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The first five weeks were research for a new book I'm working on (the details of which I'm keeping close to the vest at this point). After that, I did a publicity tour of the UK and South Africa to support the launch of my second novel, The Garden of Burning Sand, in those countries. Garden continues some of the themes I developed in A Walk Across the Sun in that it addresses violence against women and girls in the context of Southern Africa and the United States. It tells the story of a Zambian girl with Down Syndrome who is raped on the streets of Lusaka and the non-profit team of lawyers and social workers--including Zoe Fleming, the daughter of a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate--who come to her aid. It will be released in the U.S. on May 6, 2014 by Quercus/Random House, a month after the launch of the trade paperback edition of A Walk Across the Sun .
JB: Wow! You sure have a lot going on. And Garden definitely sounds like something I'll look forward to reading. John Grisham wrote a blurb for A Walk Across the Sun . While it's not unusual for authors to write a blurb, Grisham has made a point of never doing one - until yours. How did you pull off this coup?
CA: John was very generous with his support. A mutual friend introduced us. He had a preexisting interest in the subject of human trafficking and was intrigued by my project. He offered to take a look at the manuscript after I finished it. Of course, I hoped that he would like it, but the whole thing was a bit nerve-wracking. I'll never forget the email I got from him after he read it. It was a pivotal moment in my quest to get published. The glowing endorsement he offered me elevated my manuscript above the slush pile with agents and editors. It didn't guarantee a book deal, but it gave me credibility in the industry and helped people take me seriously. And it's been wonderful with readers. People love John's books. Our writing styles are a bit different, but we share a passion for justice and for stories well told.
Grisham blurb by courtesy of the author
JB: And you're both very good at what you do. Your website is a tool that carries your passion about the subject of trafficking forward. What can readers expect to find if they go there?
CA: I built my website both to be a portal for my readers to learn more about the story behind A Walk Across the Sun and to offer people ideas about how they can engage in the fight against human trafficking. Fiction is an immensely powerful medium and can inspire conscientious action. But it has its limits. On my website, under the "Learn More" tab, I offer people additional resources to expand their knowledge of human trafficking. Also, under the "How to Help" tab, I point people to an array of non-profit organizations doing great work in the field. I hope readers interested in advancing in the cause of modern abolitionism will join me and my wife in supporting the many heroes around the world who have dedicated their lives to the work of justice and rescue.
JB: Your book was an eye-opener and I highly recommend it. Thank you so much for talking with me, Corban. It was a pleasure.
Thanks to Laurie Rosen for suggesting this book.
Some other Brunwasser pieces on trafficking and prostitution: