Guest Author Interview with Tola Lisa!

Thank you so much to author, Tola, for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We appreciate it, and we know that your readers will as well!

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Answer: Human trafficking problems in my city.

2. Can you tell me about the book?

Answer: The Dark Days of Esther.

3. What is your writing process like?

Answer: I write, edit, and write again.

4. What did you learn when writing the book?

Answer: I have a lot of patience.

5. What surprised you the most?

Answer: How I can stick with a project for years.

6. What does the title mean?

Answer: It means Esther is having dark days.

7. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who?

Answer: No.

8. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?

Answer: they became better people.

9. What advice do you have for writers?

Answer: Write, write and write.

10. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Answer: New ideas, editing

11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Answer: Laziness.

12. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Answer: God.

13. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Answer: Yes.

14. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Answer. Both.

15. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Answer: My first book is a sequel.

16. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Answer: One.

17. What kind of research did you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Answer: I use the Internet and library, a month.

18. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?

Answer: Years.

19. How many hours a day do you write?

Answer: Depends on the day.

20. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

Answer: Young adult.

21. What did you edit out of this book?

Answer: A lot of paragraphs that did not get with the story line.

22. How do you select the names of your characters?

Answer: Phone book.

23. If you didn't write, what would you do for work? Answer: Be a nurse.

24. What was your hardest scene to write? Answer: Violent scenes.

25. What is your favorite childhood book?

Answer: All Enid Blyton novels.

26. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Answer: 6 months to a year.

27. Do you believe in writer's block?

Answer: No.

28. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

Answer: Fountain pen and Microsoft word.

29. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

Answer: When I was 9 years old.

30. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

Answer: Very hard, I get distracted easily.

31. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

Answer: No, I should.

32. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

Answer: I set a plot.

33. Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?

Answer: Focus and create deadlines.

34. Do you read much, and if so, who are your favorite authors?

Answer: I read a lot, Sidney Sheldon, Eric Jerome Dickey.

35. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

Answer: Dialogue and suspense.

36. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing?

Answer: Cool, I take rejection well.

37. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?

Answer: Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

38. How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Answer: 70%

39. Who are your books mostly dedicated to?

Answer: The victims of

40. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?

Answer: My sister

41. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?

Answer: My muse is Enid.

42. Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?

Answer: False.

43. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?

Answer: Depends on the Author.

44. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

Answer: Yes.

45. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

Answer: I don't like it.

46. Is writing book series more challenging?

Answer: No.

47. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?

Answer: Yes.

48. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts?

Answer: Yes.

49. Can you tell us about your current projects?

Answer: My next project is about black wall street

50. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day?

Answer: Yes. My English teacher, Sophomore year in college.

51. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?

Answer: No.

52. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?

Answer: I take their ideas with a grain of salt.

53. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

Answer: Not yet.

A Call to Action

As we enter the New Year, some of us worry about the weight we have gained, problems at

work or with the family, or personal financial issues. But little thought is given to the victims of

human trafficking. The media portrays victims of human trafficking as runway kids, kids who

think they are too grown to listen to their parents, and juvenile delinquents who are getting

exactly what they deserve.

Like me, if you have no friends or relatives who have been affected by human trafficking, it

seems like an ugly topic best swept under the rug. We have been raised to believe not talking

about uncomfortable topics makes them cease to exist. Out of sight, out of mind. That is

furthest from the truth Human trafficking is a growing problem nationally, and in Houston especially.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline reports that 2,135 calls were made to the organization in 2016 up from 1,731 calls in 2015. Since 2007, 13,560 calls have been fielded by the Hotline. 1 According to a 2017 University of Texas-Austin study, it is estimated that, "313,000 people in the state are victims of human trafficking, with 79,000 minors and youth as sex workers." 2 Further, according to a study appearing in the Akron Law Review by Cheryl Butler, 25 percent of trafficked people in the United States are found in Texas. Nationwide, about 20 percent of trafficking victims travel through Texas. 3

Human traffickers operate from Harris County, Fort Bend County, Waller County and the list

goes on. Predators recruit in urban and rural areas, affluent and impoverished ones. They are

wolves in sheep clothing, sniffing out the young and the vulnerable, luring them into a world of

prostitution and drug addiction. Human trafficking could be happening to someone you know

and the great thing is that you can do something to stop it.

Talk to your friends and neighbors about human trafficking, regularly ask your child about their

friends and social activities, watch for changes in behavior and personality.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Predators often make contact with their victims through

Internet forums (sites where people discuss their favorite movies, music, video games, etc.,)

social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.,) and even through online gaming (PlayStation

Network, XBox Live, Steam, etc.,). Talk with your child about the potential dangers in using

these platforms. Establish an open door of communication and let them know that they can

always come to you if they feel scared or concerned about an interaction they have had.

Most importantly, if you see something, say something.

We all have a moral obligation to join the battle against human trafficking. These victims could

be your sister, your cousin, your child, or even your best friend. We can help protect their

future and dignity. Take active steps to empower yourselves and your children against

predators. Attend as many human trafficking prevention and education events as possible.

Support authors who write novels about human trafficking by buying their books and sharing

them with friends and family. Spread awareness through social media and create a bookclub.

Join or volunteer at a local human trafficking organization. Know your comfort zone and do not

go out of it.

Now pick up your sword and let’s go to war.

1 Kent, Roy. “Houston is an epicenter of human trafficking.” Houston Chronicle, January 23, 2018. 2 Ibid. 3 Butler, Cheryl Nelson. "Sex Slavery in the Lone Star State: Does the Texas Human Trafficking Legislation of 2011 Protect Minors?" Akron Law Review: Vol. 45 : Iss. 4, Article 3, 2012.

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