Heather A. Clark interviewed by Open Book Ontario
Open Book Ontario recently posted an interview with Heather A. Clark about her debut novel, Chai Tea Sunday.
Open Book: Tell us about your new book, Chai Tea Sunday.
Heather A. Clark: Chai Tea Sunday tells the story of Nicky Fowler – a woman who thought she had the perfect life, including a fulfilling career and a loving husband. But as complicated fertility issues reveal themselves, and ultimately lead to a devastating tragedy, Nicky’s marriage crumbles.
Emotionally lost, Nicky decides to move to Kenya to volunteer as a teacher at an orphanage. But life in Africa is more of a struggle than she anticipated; drought has forced the country into famine, violence is everywhere and, worst of all, the children at the orphanage are not safe.
Crushed by both her past and what life is like in Africa, Nicky turns to her host mother, Mama Bu, and finds love, understanding and what she needs most – hope. With newfound strength, Nicky realizes what she must do to help the endangered children she’s grown to love – and ultimately discovers they have given her much more than she could ever give them.
OB: What was your inspiration for writing this story?
HC: My cousin, Rachel, went to Kenya to volunteer at an orphanage. When she returned, I couldn’t get enough of her stories, particularly as they pertained to the children at the orphanage. It wasn’t the sad stories that we hear so often or her chronicles of the devastation that exists there … but what connected all of these stories together: hope. It was her tales of the children at the orphanage who have nothing – less than nothing, actually – and still have so much unconditional love to give.
I remember calling my husband on my drive to work a few days later (using Bluetooth of course!), and choking back sobs because I was still feeling the power of Rachel’s stories. I knew then that I needed to write about her journey in Africa.