Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. Today, we’re bringing you an interview with the author of On Wings of an Avalanche. It released last week. Have you had an opportunity to read it or at least put it on your TBR pile? Meet C.D. Gill and show some love in the comments!
About the Author
The Blurb: “A struggling charity hospital, visa troubles, and an arrest at gunpoint leave Dr. Madison Cote at the mercy of the corrupt Malian police. Rescue comes at a price when a warlord demands that she traffic drugs in exchange for her freedom and his protection. When the French embassy enlists her to relay intelligence on the warlord, Dr. Cote’s trapped as a civilian double agent, facing an immediate death sentence if she’s caught.
Royal Air Force recruit Chip Chapman needs to prove to himself that he can be more than his abusive father. A week before basic training, an avalanche replaces his dreams of heroism with raw survivalism. Taken captive for his piloting skills, Chip plans to escape until he uncovers war crimes no human could ignore.
Both pressed into servitude, Dr. Cote and Chip forge a desperate alliance. But with lives in the balance, their allegiances and honor will be the least of the sacrifices required to topple a warlord.”
Toni: Welcome, C.D.! Since I’m so excited to talk about your book, I’ll just jump right in with the questions. What made you decide to pick Mali as a setting for On Wings of an Avalanche?
C.D: I chose Mali, because of the drug trafficking problem, and the proximity to Europe. It has a unique feature of being Muslim in the north closer to the desert and “Christian” in the south. So I was able to separate the crimes from religion mostly.
Toni: Have you ever been to Africa? If so, can you tell us a little about your experience there?
C.D: Yes! I went to Zambia in 2015! The travel was really long coming from the US, but my husband and I had the privilege of seeing life “in the bush” in Zambia. Pretty quickly outside of Lusaka, the roads turned to dirt with huge holes. The journey which would have taken 8 hours with paved roads took two 12-hr days to get to our destination. We stayed near locals, visited local schools, the missionary hospital, the hydro project which provides electricity to the area, and the markets. It was so bizarre to see so many people in the bush with cell phones yet they still lacked things like running water, toilets, refrigeration, etc. I was so glad we went with people who knew the area, because we would have had no idea where to stop for food or fuel. Those things aren’t easily available outside the city because people don’t have the money to pay a day’s wage for “fast food” nor do they all have vehicles that need fuel.
Toni: That sounds amazing. I still would love to visit the continent. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?
C.D: All kinds! I went in depth into Mali’s culture, landscape, political structure, medical rules, and transportation. I researched the Olympics in 2008, bugs, aviation, birth rates, medicine, language, gift-giving, the drug trade, child soldiers, food, license plates, roads—you name it. I looked into it. And it was lots of fun!
Toni: You make it sound fun. 🙂 Did you find it difficult to portray the African culture considering your own ethnic background?
C.D: It was super important to me that I not misrepresent Africa as a whole or even present it as something “lesser than.” For example, one warlord doesn’t mean that the country is full of them, just like one gang story doesn’t mean the US is only gangs. Africa isn’t lesser than. It’s just different. I didn’t want people to read this book and think that “West is best.” In Zambia, healthcare is given to the citizens, as is the land. They expect things for free from the government. In the US, being given things goes against the ideal of work hard and earn what you want. So yes, it was difficult, because there are things I wanted to include in the story but refrained because the understanding of the full culture was difficult to fit into one story.
Toni: Makes perfect sense. I’m glad you took care with your portrayal. What is the one thing you wanted to portray for the different cultures?
C.D: That forgiveness is a concept understood around the world. Evil is always with us in many shapes, but it’s how we deal with evil and change for the better that shapes our identities.
Toni: Amen! What would you choose for a life verse for the hero/heroine?
C.D: For Chip, John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it fear.”
Toni: I love that verse!
C.D: For Madison, Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”
Toni: That’s another good one! Last but not least, what can readers do to support your writing journey?
C.D: Recommending the book to friends and leaving a review so others can find the book! Of course, I would love personal notes on how the story landed with each person.
Toni: Readers, do you have any questions or comments for C.D.?
About the Author
C.D. Gill caught the travel bug as a young girl. Now she integrates other cultures and faraway places into her fiction. Equally as important is her desire to lend a voice to those around world without one. Her favorite adventure buddy is her British pilot husband who doesn’t know how to sit still and whose stories have added fuel to her wild imagination.