BAW: Do you believe we face the same challenges presented in the book today? If so, how?
Shella Gillus: When I think about the questions in the book, “Is love enough? Is what you want, what you are striving for and what you want to achieve worth sacrificing to get it? Is it worth it?” I think those are the same questions that we face all the time. We are always asking ourselves those questions and I think it’s definitely a question that the readers can relate to.
BAW: What has been the response toward the book?
Shella Gillus: We received an NAACP Image Award nomination. Last week, we received notice that we are finalist for the Carol Award, which is one of the top Christian fiction book awards. That won’t be announced until September. So that’s exciting. The response has been great. It’s been very positive.
In fact, we just did a free download on Amazon. We had 117,000 new readers download the book in two weeks. We’re exciting about the numbers and it’s getting out there. What I like is that the readers are relating to the characters. Some of them like Lydia, some of them don’t. She’s the main character. I just want you to feel something. I’m okay either way. Hopefully, it has some kind of impact.
BAW: What are some of the responses that you’ve received outside of the African American community?
Shella Gillus: One thing that I see that’s repeated in a lot of the comments is “Thank you for showing us this side of the story.” They can really relate to Lydia and her desire for freedom and the sadness that they feel about what America participated in. So I found that I see that continuously in the letters, that theme that “Sorry our country contributed to this,” but also the new awareness of parts of the culture that we didn’t know. I find that with the African American community it was the aspect of the loom room that was new.
BAW: For those who haven’t read The Loom yet, why do you feel they should pick it up?
Shella Gillus: I think the book is relatable. I think that’s the surprise that they would find. Even though it’s a historical fiction, it’s very relatable to what you’re going through now. I think that question, the theme of what are you’re willing to sacrifice for what you want. I think that we all deal with it. I think the love in this story we can all relate to. I think we’re going to have characters where you’re going to be able to see it from a different perspective. I didn’t want one- dimensional characters. I really wanted you to see what the motivation was behind the characters. And I think that reading the book, hopefully you walk away with a little bit more understanding, a little bit more grace for others and an appreciation for who you are regardless of your culture. . I’ve had readers walk away with certain lines of the book. Fiction is really based on real life.
You can purchase The Loom online at Amazon.com in both paperback and for the Kindle. You can also find more information about Shella Gillus and her book at http://shellagillus.com/.