Sunday, October 18, 2009

Interview with author Zaria Garrison

Hello Zaria, introduce yourself to my readers. I am Zaria, a first time Christian fiction author. I am also co-owner and staff writer for an online literary magazine EKG Literary Magazine. We aim to be the pulse of the literary community. I’m also a single parent of a son who is going through the terrible teens.

Your debut Christian Fiction novel, Prodigal sounds like a great story. Tell us about it. Prodigal is about twins sisters, Phoebe and Phylicia, who fall in love with the same man. He is Rev. Gary Morgan, who is married to Phylicia. Early on the readers learn that while he deeply loves Phylicia, Gary shared one night of teen-aged passion with Phoebe. The results of that night resurface when Phoebe moves back to town intent on taking from her sister the man she believes is rightfully hers. It’s full of drama, surprises, and most importantly God’s voice.

Sibling rivalry is always a good source of conflict. What inspired this story?
It began as a re-telling of The Prodigal Son from the Bible. I thought it would be interesting to look at the conflict from a female perspective. Unbeknownst to me God was also dealing with me as I wrote it because of my own sibling rivalry with my sister. There were times that I’d go back and reread my own words and suddenly realize that God was speaking to me. Over the years my sister and I have had a roller coaster relationship that has resulted in physical fights as adults. I know that God was not pleased with either of us. Writing Prodigal helped me realize I couldn’t blame my sister for everything. I needed to look at myself and my own actions. Currently my sister and I get along, but we are not as close as we should be. So God is still dealing with us.

Do you have a favorite twin? I put a little bit of myself into the character of both twins, but Phoebe is by far my favorite. She may be seen by some as the “bad” twin, but I still see the good in her. She’s funny and a lot of fun.

What is the spiritual message you’d like for readers to take away from this story? In Prodigal, several of the characters are called upon to forgive one another for various acts of betrayal. Forgiving someone when they have really done you wrong is one of the most difficult things to do. Even sometimes when we think we’ve forgiven a person that wound is still open and it hurts. I hope that the readers will take this opportunity to search their own hearts for forgiveness of loved ones.

Zaria, aside from both writing for the same publisher you and I have something else in common, we both got “the call” that our books were wanted for publication on the same day. Share a little about your journey to publication?
My first book, Baring It All was published under my birth name Gena Garrison in 2005. It was secular writing. It won Mahogany Media’s best new writer award for 2005, and also Mahogany Media’s Best book club selection for 2005. But God stepped in and told me he did not give me the gift of writing to write secular novels. So I began writing Christian fiction. I queried two publishers. The first totally ignored me and that crushed my ego. But my Mom told me not to give up. Shortly after she passed away my grief wouldn’t allow me to sleep. So I got up and logged onto the internet. That’s when I discovered a new Christian imprint at Urban Books. I sent my manuscript to them the next day and it was accepted. I feel deeply humbled and blessed that I don’t have a stack of rejection letters like a lot of writers.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing or reading or being mom?
One of my favorite past times is internet surfing. I enjoy reading gossip blogs, Wikipedia, or just chatting with people on various social networking sites. The internet has so much information I don’t think even I can read it all. I also love music and singing. I sing with my church Praise team, and my son and I like to harmonize together.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Victoria Christopher Murry, Carl Weber, Virginia Deberry & Donna Grant, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Octavia Butler, and Bebe Moore Campbell just to name a few. They all have different writing styles, but they each have a unique manner of telling a story. I’m a firm believer that there are no new ideas, just new twists on old ones. These authors have mastered the art of the twist.

Share some of your upcoming book events and how can readers get in contact with you?  My book release party is coming up on November 14 in my hometown of Greer, SC. Any readers who are nearby are welcome to come and celebrate with me. They can email me at and I’ll be sure to send them an invite with all the details.
They can also find me online at my website or my magazine website

Watch the trailer for Prodigal

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