I love novels that incorporate real world events and make me think about the global community, exactly what A Walk Across The Sun achieved. Of course, I also love reading books written by my brethren, lawyers! When a tsunami rages through their village in India, Ahalya Ghai and her sister Sita are left orphaned and homeless. As they struggle to reach the convent where they attend school, they are abducted by human traffickers and thrust into a hidden world of illicit commerce, where the most valuable prize is the innocence of a child. Halfway across the world, Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke faces his own personal and professional crises. Haunted by the death of his infant daughter and estranged from his wife, he makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical in India with an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent’s human traffickers. Spanning three continents and two cultures, A Walk Across the Sunchronicles an unforgettable journey through the underworld of modern slavery and into the darkest, and most resilient, corners of the human heart.
I really appreciated that Corban took time to speak with me about the weighty subject of human trafficking in his fantastic book.
Dana, I’m delighted you enjoyed the book.
Thanks Corban, let’s get to the interview!
Did you hope to raise awareness to human trafficking with A Walk Across The Sun, and has it allowed you to do so?
My goal in writing the novel was to create a compelling fictional story that would educate my readers about the reality of global human trafficking and inspire them to engage the work of justice within their spheres of influence. Since the book was released in 2012, I’ve been privileged to hear from many people around the world who have learned from the story and found the inspiration to take action. More than positive reviews, that is my greatest joy.
What was the most difficult experience you encountered while researching the book?
When I was in Mumbai, I went undercover into a number of brothels, posing as a customer. I had an Indian guide who greased the wheels with the brothel owners and got me into establishments that otherwise would have been closed to me as a white American. The hardest part of the experience wasn’t the fear I felt but the sense of helplessness that overwhelmed me in that place. I met women in the brothel who almost certainly had been trafficked as children and who had virtually no chance of find a way out of their prison. I couldn’t do anything to help them. Anything I did would have endangered them and me. The best I could do was come home and write a compelling story.
Did your experience prompt you to shift the focus of the area of law you practice?
I left the practice of law when I sold world rights to A Walk Across the Sun and to my second novel, The Garden of Burning Sand, which was recently released in the United States. But I am still an advocate at heart, and I take every opportunity I can to speak and write about the issues I address in my stories.
Your book sends a strong message about women and humanity; what was the hardest part of the book for you to write?
Getting India right was the greatest challenge. I wanted to represent the culture and the people of India authentically and sympathetically. It took a great deal of research and time on the ground in the subcontinent to achieve a degree of verisimilitude, but I’ve been pleased to hear from many Indian readers that I did justice to their fascinating land.
What are a few of your favorite books?
My all-time favorite novel is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. The best book I’ve read recently is The Last Child by my friend John Hart. A few other favorite are The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, A Time to Kill by John Grisham, and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
What advice would you give to new writers?
If you love putting words on the page, then do it no matter what anyone tells you. Believe in yourself despite the rejections you get (and you will get many of them), hone your craft, be willing to take advice about how to make your work better, and keep putting it out there. You never know when lightening will strike.
Corban Addison is the author of two international bestselling novels, A Walk Across the Sun and The Garden of Burning Sand, which address some of today’s most pressing human rights issues. An attorney, activist, and world traveler, he is a supporter of numerous humanitarian causes, including the abolition of modern slavery, gender-based violence, and HIV/AIDS. He lives with his wife and children in Virginia. Read more about Corban on his website.