Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Author Interview: Esther Slade: Tithe of Blood: The Happy Fish: Mango Man

Esther Slade was born on the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Her formative years were spent on the islands of St. Croix and Antigua. At age 16, she migrated to the US Mainland to attend college. Esther has an undergraduate degree in English from Temple University and a graduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. Esther Slade is the author of Ayla's Paradise, J’ouvert Morning  and Tithe of Blood. She also has books for young readers: The Happy Fish, Mango Man, Brielle, Big Helper and Bella’s Birthday Party. She currently resides on the US Mainland with her two precious daughters, Isabella and Brielle.

Your real name and pen name? 

My real name is Esther St Hilaire. My pen name is Esther Slade .

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood.

I remember the summers I spent growing up on the island of Antigua with my grandmother and great grandmother. They taught me lifelong lessons about love, marriage and fidelity.

About your education

I have a BA in English from Temple University and an MBA from the University of Connecticut.

What career did you plan during your education days? 

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. Even as a child, I wrote stories and poems.

What languages you can speak and write? 

English is my native tongue. I also speak, read and write Spanish.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life? 

My faith.  Every fiber of my being longs for God, who I call by one of his Hebrew names, HaShem.

What hurts you most in this world? 

I hate poverty with a passion. I believe it breeds violence and wars.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it? 

This is a hard question. So many challenges we have in this life. I think I would conclude that racial discrimination here in the US has been my biggest challenge. I didn't grow up on the mainland, so when I first came here, this was hard to adjust to. It still is. I don't know that I will ever overcome it. I once went to a writers conference in NY and had an executive editor at one of the large publishing houses in NY admonished me for comparing a character in my manuscript to a character in one of Henry James’ novel.   She was highly annoyed and irritated that I could compare myself to Henry James.  I left that conference thinking that I can compare myself to Shakespeare if I felt like it. That is mine and only my right to decide.   

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

I would choose Mother Theresa.  There is so much humility there. It was amazing to have seen her once in Baltimore.  I was really touched by her presence and the work she did during her lifetime.

What is your favorite genre and why? 

I love, love literary fiction. I just think this is the highest level of writing.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing? 

I started writing as a child, probably as young as 9 or 10. I write because it is like breathing and eating. I have to write or my life will be diminished in a sense. It is just a part of my soul.

Which of your work has been published so far? 

All of my works have been published. After years of prowling writers conferences looking for agents and publishers, I decided to let my voice be heard by self-publishing.

Would you like to share a synopsis of your work? 

I write literary fiction and children's picture books. I lean on the subject of issues affecting women, domestic violence, love, anger, hatred.  I recently started writing children’s picture books to encourage by two young girls to read.  I also feel it will leave a legacy for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren long after I am gone.

What are your forthcoming writings? 

I am currently working on a novel about a mother who will do anything necessary to protect her children. In a sense I feel like I am that kind of mother. I was in a house of worship one day and a Rabbi who was annoyed at my 18 month old daughter because she was crying in the service approached us in a very unusual way to put it mildly.  That gave me the inspiration to write this novel.

What are your future plans? 

My goal is to move live on an island. I was born and raised on an island and I know when I leave the US mainland, I will return to live on an island. I just don't know which island yet.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book? 

I would say dialogue, character development, tone and setting.

Your dream destination on Earth?  

My dream destination would be one of the Spanish islands like Ibiza.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. 

I have travelled to Israel, and most of Europe (Spain, France, Germany, England, Switzerland) to name a few.  I have also been to South America and many islands in the Caribbean.

What best things you liked in these countries around the globe? 

I love the way the Spaniards enjoy each day to the fullest.  That is how I would like to live, not fretting about tomorrow but just enjoying the present.

Your favorite time of the day?  

I enjoy Sunset.  In Judaism, we believe the day starts at sunset and not at midnight.

Your zodiac/ sunsign?  

I don’t believe in it.

Your favorite color and why?  

I love red. It says a lot about my personality.  One older relative described me as ‘soft but saucy’.  This basically means on the surface I seem very laid back but when you scratch the surface there is a flame to be avoided.

Your favorite book and why?  

I read the book To Shoot Hard Labour: The Life and Times of Samuel Smith, an Antiguan Workingman 1877-1982 by Keithlyn B. Smith over and over again. It is possibly the most accurate depiction of slave life in the Caribbean that exists in the world.

Your favorite celebrity and why? 

I think I am a rare breed of individual because I am so consumed with my life and the life of my young children, I don’t follow the celebrity unless they end up on the front page of CNN for something really major or outrageous.  So I don’t have a favorite celebrity. 
Your favorite food? 

I love the local Caribbean dishes.  My favorite is Funghi. It is made of yellow cornmeal and boiled okras. It taste like polenta but with a Caribbean flare.

Some quickies: 

Sun or Moon, 
Laughter or Smile,
Morning or Evening,
Coffee or Tea,
Mountain or Sea, 
Long Drive or Short Drive, 
Silence or Conversation,
Water or Fire, 
Air or Earth, 
Mars or Jupiter,
Moon or Sun, 
Tulip or Rose, 
Red or Blue, 
Left or Right,
Glance or Stare

What three words come to your mind for each 
Technology (iPhone, Internet, Global),
Life (Love, Envy, Hatred),
God (Love, Mercy, Compassion),
Humanity (Frail, Weak, Lost),
Terrorism (Islam, Death, Hatred),
Racism (Hatred, Money, Greed),
Childhood Abuse (Generational, Sad, Death),
Love (Light, Happiness, HaShem),
Parenting (Joy, Protection, Love),
Old age (Wisdom, Scary, Death)

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote. 

I am my mother’s daughter. When the going gets rough, I run.

The last line of your autobiography would be… 

I communed with HaShem.  Hashem said of me like He did of Melech David, 'I have found Esther, daughter of Shirley, a woman after my own heart.

Twitter handle: @esthersladebooks
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