Welcome all to an Interview with Author S. E. Nelson…..
SJ: What writer inspired you most and how?
SJ: If you could give just one piece of important writing advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Hello one and all! How are you today? I'm back and hope everyone is doing well and happy! Welcome back to my writing blog page where I try to share whatever I think may interest you. Today I interview another fellow author. With me this time is human rights activist, S. E. Nelson.
S.E Nelson works as a Consultant for the United Nations, and for SIMA which stands for Social Impact Media Awards. She is a published author of two award-winning novels. Her first novel "Nightmare Along the River Nile" is set in Uganda and Sudan. It is a story about a student who was abducted by the LRA and sold into slavery. The second novel "The Helpers" which is set in Democratic Republic of Congo, Europe and United States, is an International tale of espionage and corruption. “The Helpers” had now been made into a series. She is an advocate of human rights issues like anti human trafficking, protection of war children and child education. As a child, Nelson experienced wars caused by various regime changes in Uganda before moving to the United States. Since then she has worked in Europe, Africa and United States.
SJ: If it’s all right with you, Eva, I’d like to begin with your advocacy for human rights and anti- human trafficking. You’re not the only author I’ve heard that has breached this subject, but still I barely hear about it. How big of a problem is human trafficking in our modern age?
SEN: My novel "Nightmare Along the River Nile" is about war and human trafficking. The latter being the dominant factor. The story was inspired by actual events that happened to many young boys and girls in northern Uganda in the 1990s. The story was conceived from many interviews that were conducted with survivors and former child soldiers who managed to escape the LRA. Kony the leader of the LRA had terrorized families in northern Uganda for more than a decade when I started writing this story. In was well known that he and his soldiers took girls to be their sex slaves. What was not known was that when he ran out money he started selling some of the people he abducted. All this was conducted in the bush so little was known about it.
I have always been concerned with human rights because I grew up seeing hardship and inequities which disturbed me. Working for the UN was a way of trying to contribute in helping the developing world. My interest in Human Trafficking started while writing the book. Like most people I thought slavery was a thing of the past. When I got involved in the cause, I discovered that at present the world has over 27 million people in all forms of slavery which include: forced labor like child labor, adult labor, domestic labor and sex trafficking.
Book Excerpt from Nightmare Along the River Nile: (A Story of Twentieth Century Slavery)
Written in simple English from an African perspective and in an African voice, this award-winning story will tug at your heartstrings. Edgar is heading home to visit his mother after finishing high school exams, when rebels belonging to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) ambush his bus. Edgar and other passengers, most of whom are students, are abducted and taken to the LRA headquarters deep in the mountains of southern Sudan. He finds himself caught up in a nightmare he never imagined and his life is forever changed.
Edgar's friends learn of his fate and embark on a challenging and unpredictable rescue mission full of twists and turns. Can they find the strength to continue the difficult search? Can Edgar's faith sustain him long enough to escape the hell he is in? Find out in this compelling narrative about a young man and his loyal friends whose story will remain with you for a long time to come.
SJ:) Can you briefly tell us more about SIMA? What is the Social Impact Media Awards and what it is you do with them?
SEN: SIMA is the first documentary and educational impact media competition that awards members of both the independent film and global humanitarian industries. It has grown to become an international film program and collection, curating the best impact cinema. SIMA is like the Academy awards but the recipients are film makers who create works about social justice, human rights and humanitarian development. SIMA awards creative visual storytelling that inspire activism, compassion and social transformation. My job is to connect SIMA with the UN entities, other organizations and individuals who want to partner with SIMA as donors or want to screen films for their events.
SJ: What was your inspiration for your two books? No doubt your job with the UN and SIMA influence your writing. Can you tell us a little bit of how the idea came about? What was your inspiration?
SEN: I was working with the UN when I started writing but not with SIMA. Unlike most writers, writing was not something that I pursued. I was aware of what the LRA were doing in northern Uganda and I had a lot of compassion for affected people but I did not feel connected in the beginning. The story about the children and young adults who were escaping the LRA and coming back with horrifying firsthand accounts fell into my lap, and I felt compelled to write it. When I started writing I discovered that there more stories to tell and I continued writing.
Book Excerpt from The Helpers: (An International Tale of Espionage and Corruption)
American journalist, Jenny Osborne, will not let fear stop her from getting a story. She is determined to report on the war between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the rebels that is causing political and social turbulence within the country. But after she and her photojournalist, John Spencer, arrive in Kinshasa, they soon discover that things are not as they seem.
Monsieur Lance Lemmand, a veteran French Intelligence Officer in DRC, suspects the hand of The Helpers in the current political unrest. He enlists his protégé, the brilliant and handsome Pierre-Jean Philippe, to help him investigate. When Kai, a local schoolgirl, who is hiding a deep dark, secret, decides to take action, she seeks out Jenny for help. Kai gives Jenny damaging information that could bring down The Helpers. But can Jenny survive long enough to fulfill her duty to Kai and fight her feelings for Pierre, while trying to achieve her ultimate goal?
"The Helpers" find out that Jenny has obtained damaging information about them, they go after her with a vengeance. They will stop at nothing to prevent Jenny from exposing them. Jenny finds herself on the run, caught in a web of intrigue, espionage and assassinations, spanning from Congo to Europe, and as far reaching as the United States. Her only hope is to find Lance and Pierre. But will they find her before it is too late? Or will "The Helpers" silence them once and for all.
SJ: What do you love most about being a writer? Least?
SEN: I am an avid reader. I love reading and escaping into the story. Writing is like that for me. I enjoy the escapism of writing, creating scenarios, characters and setting. It takes two years or more to complete the novel since I only write during my free time and I have to do a lot of research, but I enjoy the entire process of writing.
Because of the types of books I would say that the downside is the emotional toll it takes to go deep into the characters state of mind and try to portray it honestly. Writing about Kai’s experiences in “The Helpers” was very difficult. I tried to omit some scenes but my developer insisted that I had to make the story real. This was tough.
Similarly writing about Edgar’s journey in “Nightmare Along the River Nile” was gut-wrenching. At the time most of the survivors didn’t want to tell their stories as they were afraid of retaliation from the LRA. The journey as described by survivors was treacherous. Many family members and friends of the captured youths attempted to bring them back, but few were successful. The tough part was making characters that were interesting, since the subject matter is very serious. No matter how many times I re-wrote or edited the story, some scenes disturbed me.
SEN: There are too many to list because I love all kinds of genre. I would say that the authors that inspired me when I was younger were: Robert Ludlum, Sidney Sheldon, Chinua Achebe, Charles Dickens, Ian Fleming and Erle Stanley Gardner. The other authors that I really like are: Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, James Patterson, Jeffery Archer and David Baldacci. Sometimes I indulge in the juicy books written by Jackie Collins, Judith McNaught, Danielle Steele and many others. These days I read a lot of books by self-published authors.
SEN:Just do it, but it’s important to have professionals evaluate your work before you put it on sale. Get a good Developmental Editor and Proofreader. After the book is on sale, get ready to face a tough road ahead as you may spend more time promoting your books than writing if you want your work to be read. Do not let bad reviews affect you. It comes with the territory. Not everyone is going to see your work the way you do.SJ: In closing, what is a favorite book you enjoyed reading and would recommend without hesitation? Why?
SEN: Most people who read my books will not believe this but as I mentioned before I am an avid reader. I read books of almost every genre except erotica. “Chances” by Jackie Collins is one book that stands out for me but I can’t tell you why (technically) since I have read and loved thousands of books. There are others that I recall not wanting to put down but since you wanted one, “Chances” is my choice. The book was satisfying, like the feeling you get after a good thanksgiving meal. The miniseries was okay but not as good as the book.
Thanks S.E. for taking time out to visit with us. Thank you readers for doing the same. It's been fun as usual. I love speaking with other writers and sharing their insight with others, especially readers. Each visit is a learning experience for me. I hope it is for you, too.Readers, to learn more about S.E. her writing, books, and human rights issues she cares about check out her website:
And don’t forget to catch her Book Trailer for 'Nightmare along the River Nile' - www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw-3H5oLBbk
You can also find S.E. all over the internet. Here are her connections:
Twitter accounts: Personal @Nelson_SE
Human rights @SENHumanRights
Facebook fan page
Human Rights - http://www.facebook.com/SENBooks
Goodreads and Shelfari social forum for readers and authors.
Thank you for visiting with us. Until next month...every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. May all your wishes come true.
S. J. Francis
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, et al.
In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Coming in 2015 from Black Opal Books.
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