Dee Stewart

A literary journalist and publicist since 2003, Dee Stewart's writings have appeared in Precious Times, Romantic Times, Spirit Led Woman Magazines and on The Master's Artist Blog. She is also the owner of DeeGospel PR (,) Christian entertainment PR boutique located in Atlanta, GA. Visit her Christian Fiction Blog, which turned 6 years old in July at Her debut novel "A Good Excuse to Be Bad (Kensington/Dafina) releases Summer 2011. Talk to her in real-time on Twitter at @deegospel.

Multicultural Fiction

Searching for Daylight: Part II

Sharon Ewell Foster on Witness, Writing, and the Christian Writer’s Journey

Sharon FosterSharon Ewell Foster is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author, speaker, and teacher. She is the author of Passing by Samaria, the first successful work of Christian fiction by an African American author, and six other works of fiction. Her works regularly receive starred book reviews—which is a rarity among writers—and has won a Christy Award, the Gold Pen Award, Best of Borders, and several reviewers’ choice awards.

Last month, Foster’s highly anticipated new novel realeased.
The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses (Simon & Schuster) is a story about how Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, aims to clarify the accepted history of Nat Turner’s prosecution. Turner, the Ethiopian turned American slave, is a well-read patriot in slaves’ eyes, but an ornery slave who needs to be put in his place in his mistress’s eyes.

Foster continues her chat with Christian Fiction Online Magazine about this controversial novel, her questions to God about her writer’s journey, and how her readers were her saving grace.

Share the premise of this story.

The arguments that still rage today are: Was Nat Turner a hero or a villain? Was he a faithful preacher or a religious fanatic? Those questions are at the heart of the book. Even 180 years later, groups see him differently. I wanted to explore that.

In social science and educational theory, there is something called the Jahari Window. It basically says that who we are is how we see ourselves, how others see us, things we keep from others, and things others see about us that we cannot see ourselves.

In The Resurrection of Nat Turner, we learn who Nat Turner is from others—both his friends and his foes—and in Part 2 we hear from him.

Throughout both books, Harriet Beecher Stowe is searching for the real Nat Turner. Twenty-five years after Turner’s death, Frederick Douglass and her brother encourage her to write a book about him.

Stowe actually did write a book about Nat Turner called Dred. I was intrigued at the idea of her writing a book about this radical revolutionary after penning a story about a passive slave. I researched, found a possible connection, and her quest became the overarching theme that holds the story together. Dave Lambert suggested that I let her light shine brighter, and it all fell into place.

What themes in this story are relevant to our current Christian worldview?

I’m always fascinated by how our past speaks to our present.

It is about love.

Slavery, trafficking—no matter what country, race, or age—is very simply our failure to see one another as brothers, to love one another. We can try to intellectualize it, but it is what it is.

It is about the power of truth and the power of lies. Many people, lots of black men, find it hard to love God because of the lies they’ve been told—lies like God doesn’t love them, God meant for them to be slaves, God says people are inferior or superior because of the color of their skin.

In the books, I explore lies that are so ubiquitous that we have come to accept them as truth—even when those lies fly in the face of God’s Word. I explore the power of the truth to overcome even the oldest lie.

Finally, it is about our innate desire for liberty, self-determination. The Resurrection of Nat Turner is about hoping, fighting, and pressing on when all the odds are against you.

It is about God’s love, which transcends language, culture, race, and His commitment to even the least among us.

What was your process for putting this series together?

I’m usually a very economical writer. I don’t have pages and chapters that have to be edited out. But I had to write and write, just trying to find the truth. At first, the writing was like this huge piece of rock on the side of the mountain and I needed to hammer at it, to chisel at it to find the sculpture within.

In the beginning, I told Nat Turner’s story from the points of view of those who knew him. I thought it would be simple, like building a small church. Then, before my eyes, it became this massive thing—a cathedral.

The Resurrection of Nate Turner

When I wanted to give up, I kept praying. Readers kept writing to encourage me. When I felt overwhelmed, I reminded myself that it takes years to build a cathedral.

What do we learn about Nat Turner that changes the mystique behind his infamous name?

Without giving too much away, all the writing about Nat Turner, fiction and nonfiction, has been based on Nat Turner’s alleged confession given to his attorney, Thomas Gray. When I read the trial transcripts, the first things I saw were: Nat Turner offered no confession at the trial—instead, he pled innocent!—Thomas Gray was also not Turner’s appointed attorney!

So, all we’ve believed for years, what we’ve been taught in school was a lie. It has made me wonder how much of what we believe is history is really only fiction.

I set out on this five-year journey to unravel the mystery: Who was Nat Turner? Why all the effort to paint this picture of a slave, of someone who wasn’t considered human? The governor of Virginia was getting instant transcripts and knew the pamphlet, “The Confessions of Nat Turner as told to Thomas Gray” was a lie. Why was he silent?

It’s been a fascinating journey. We may be part of rectifying history as the 180th anniversary dawns. Hero or villain, maybe finally, Nat Turner will have his day in court. Read the book and spread the truth.

What haven’t I asked that you would like CFOM to know about The Witness?

The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses released August 2, 2011, in trade paperback, audio, and e-book formats online and wherever books are sold. Thank you, again, for all the love. Read the book and spread the truth.

If you’d like to schedule a book signing, interview, or appearance, e-mail me at or hit me on Facebook at Sharon Ewell Foster (I’m starting a fan page soon).