Friday, December 16, 2022

Q&A with Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman


Richman and Edwards


Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman are the authors of the new historical novel The Thread Collectors. The novel is set during the Civil War period. Edwards, an attorney, works in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and she lives in Harlem. Richman's other novels include The Velvet Hours. Also a painter, she lives on Long Island.


Q: What inspired the two of you to write The Thread Collectors?


A: We sat down to write this novel in the spring of 2020 when the world was in the throes of a global pandemic and our country was wrestling with the brutal murder of George Floyd and growing awareness of racial and social injustice. We wanted to create a novel about building bridges, not seeking division. 

Q: What role do you see the arts playing in the book?


A: One of our earliest decisions was to have both of our heroes – William and Jacob – be musicians. We wanted to highlight how their mutual love of music forged a shared language between them and cemented their friendship despite them coming from different heritages and faiths. 


Our decision to also feature sewing in The Thread Collectors was also a way to show how the women in our novel used their creative ingenuity to contribute to the war effort. We hope our readers will pause and reflect on how they might create new connections and bridge divides.


Q: What impact did it have on you to write this book, and what do you hope readers take away from it? 


A: Because we were working on this novel during the pandemic when we both sheltered  at home, the project really became a creative lifeline between us. Every day we were having deep and meaningful conversations about our characters and the historical details of the Civil War that we wanted to make sure we shared with our readers. 


But at its core, the project is about sending a powerful message of unity and building connections across cultures. The novel is centered around one of the most powerful emotions. Hope.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Alyson has a novel coming out spring 2023 entitled The Friday Night Club about the 19th century Swedish artist Hilma af Klint and her creative circle. We’re dreaming about a possible sequel to The Thread Collectors that would follow our characters into Reconstruction. Shaunna has also started researching for her solo debut effort.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Alyson Richman.

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