How did you start out your writing career?
I’ve written for fun since childhood; very early before I could even write cursive. I printed out little stories. I only took writing serious about fifteen years ago. That’s when I started pursuing it as something I wanted to do professionally. So I wrote and wrote and wrote some more. Stories spilled out of me like water. I knew then it’s was GOD’s will for me to write. After I got saved it became something I did more often. Then after I got Baptized it really took off. I was not formally trained so I learned as I went and am still learning.
What inspired you to write a historical piece?
I love writing romance and I’m a very lightweight history buff. As I get older I find my interest in past events growing. A marriage of the two genres seemed like a perfect match and a new area for me too stretch my writing ability. This is my first Historical Romance.
What was your most difficult scene to write?
With a slave era story there are many difficult scenes emotionally but two difficult scenes to craft technically and emotionally were Ruth’s first encounter with Jasper in the barn and Mara’s attack by the slave catcher. As an African American female those kind of scenarios assaulted my sensibilities on all fronts. It was taxing and draining just to write so I can only imagine what it would be like to actually experience it. Much of the raw emotion and description in the original manuscript was edited out. I tried to do it tastefully but keep the real horror of the situation out front. It was a tough job to balance the trauma and vulgar violence with delicate wording.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do keep writing because practice makes perfect…or at the least you get a whole lot better. Write, write and write some more.
Don’t give up because you get rejected over and over. Hang in there.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
Naomi, she was a lot of older sisters I knew and loved in my own life rolled up into one character. She was full of love, wisdom and common sense. She was Godly and strong. She was also outspoken, meddlesome and sassy.
Have you had a “Wow” moment since you have been an author? What made it a “Wow” moment for you?
My “Wow” moment was getting my first contract from Lift Every Voice Books/Moody. I was stunned and thrilled and “Wow was just the feeling I had. I couldn’t believe it that after years of trying it had actually happened. All I could think and say was “Wow! Thank you, Jesus!”
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
Tell an engaging and thought provoking story that showed the power of GOD in everyday living and the desperation that fueled slave revolts. Show the human side of events that historical accounts my not consider and give a good romantic fix to romance lovers.
What’s playing on your CD while you’re writing?
Nothing, I write in total quiet so the story come alive in my head without distraction as much s possible. Occasionally I play some music relevant to a story if I need it to help me get into the mood.
If you had the opportunity to talk with three writers, who would you choose and why?
Alex Haley because I thought Roots was Phenomenal. It’s one of my favorite stories and movie. I actually met him in college after he wrote the book but a few years prior to the movie release. If he were alive I’d like a redo.
Francine Rivers because she is one of my favorite Christian writers.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because I absolutely adore Sherlock Holmes stories. He created a timeless character that still fascinates.
What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?
Get thick skinned if you want to be a writer is the best advice. Everybody’s a critic.
Don’t write Christian fiction and African American relevant novels was the worst.
What is something readers would be surprised you do?
Once I get into a story I can write twelve to sixteen hours a day non stop if given the time.
What are your favorite resources on the net.
I have no favorites. I goggle and whatever comes up I check it out. There are so many out there now and new ones popping up all the time.
Set in the 1800s, Ruth’s Redemption, depicts slave life in the south. Bo, the main character who was educated while a slave is a freedman who now owns a farm and buys slaves for the purpose of giving them their freedom. Bo is also a widower whose life is destined to changed when he meets the stubborn, proud and hard-hearted 20 year old slave girl, Ruth.
Ruth has known nothing but harshness and brutality since being seperated from her mother at age thirteen. Purchased and sold primarily for breeding and the enlargemnt of her master’s slave stock, Ruth struggles to understand the way of her new master. Bo is unlike any master she has known and what she experiences in his care will leave her forever changed. A gripping pre-Civil War slave era novel, Ruth’s Redemption is a story of forgiveness, acceptance and redemption. Set against the backdrop of the Nat Turner Rebellion in Tidewater, Virginia, this novel shines the light of God’s unconditional love in the darkness of the evils of hatred and acts of inhumanity.
Marlene Banks is a Philadelphia, PA native. She attended Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA and has an Associate’s Degree in Theology from the Rhema Bible Institute in Keysville, VA. She is the director of ministry at Lifeline Mission of the Gospel. Through her writing ministry, Marlene’s desire is to promote the gospel and serve the needs of her community.
Book Review by Linda Fegins
RUTH’S REDEMPTION is a compelling historical love story set in 1830s Virginia that grabbed me from the beginning until the very end despite the fact it’s a slave era story. A lover of history, yet I did not want to read about slavery at this time. But Ruth’s Redemption is not just another story of the evils of slavery, but is one of forgiveness, redemption and wholeness. It is a well crafted story about Ruth, a young female slave who is defiant and bitter from the abuses of her slave existence. Ruth’s strong, yet poignant character, arrested me as I saw the development of her character when her liberator, Bo who later becomes her husband, helps free her from the physical and emotional bondages of her past. Her life becomes entangled when she’s purchased by a free black man named Bo. Bo is an educated man of strong faith in Christ. Ruth wants no part of Bo’s faith and yearns to be free from slavery and men who have misused her. Ruth learns to love Bo, but still cannot trust a God who allowed blacks to be treated with such degradation as she cannot see that God is the one who made it possible for her freedom through Bo. Banks does a great job of portraying the conflict Ruth has about believing in Jesus and putting her faith in God and loving a saved man of God Bo. However, she discovers and embraces freedom from sin, slavery and her past and learns to trust God for her redemption. My only concern is that as the reader I would have seen a clearer demarcation of when Ruth accepted Bo’s God as her God and Savior.
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