Monday, September 3, 2012

A Visit with Author Cathy Gohlke

Happy Labor Day!

            I'm thrilled to have Christy Award winning author Cathy Gohlke along this week. Band of Sisters, Cathy's newest book, was just released. Cathy's sharing a copy for a giveaway, too, so be sure and check out the details below. 

KL: Welcome, Cathy, it's great to have you back! Band of Sisters differs a bit from your previous books. What motivated you to write it? 

CG: Thank you, Karen, it's great to be back! I’ve always been fascinated by the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement.  But I was horrified to learn that there are more than twice as many men, women and children enslaved today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  This book was born of a passion to end modern-day slavery, and most of all, to ask, “What can I do to help in a need so desperate?”

KL: Why did you choose New York City 1910-1911 as the setting? Does human trafficking in that era compare to human trafficking today?

CG: I was inspired by an article I read by Alma Matthews.  Alma was a small but determined woman who, armed with her umbrella and a hefty dose of fury, stood against dangerous men bent on exploiting immigrant women as they entered the U.S. through Castle Gardens, in old New York City.  Alma ushered young women to her home, prepared them for employment, and helped them begin a safe new life in the city.  It became a full time ministry involving many—all in the early days of the settlement house movement.  

But my editor suggested that I set the story later, when immigrants entered the U.S. through Ellis Island.  As I researched that possibility, I found that the problem of exploitation and human trafficking had not only grown during those years, but that the strikes of NYC shirtwaist factory workers had made public the desperate need for women to make a living wage in safe circumstances.  Necessary elements for the story and high drama were all a matter of public record—everything from the passing of the Mann Act to address the fear of white slavery to the Triangle Waist Factory fire. 

            Even though our technology, transportation, communication, etc., is different from the story’s era, many countries today are no further in providing rights and safeguards for women than the U.S. was in 1910.  Some are further behind.

            KL: It is a horrific epidemic, Band of Sisters opened my eyes to certain practices I was unaware of. 

            CG: Raising awareness is a great start. Many of the same ruses are used by traffickers to lure women into their snare now as they were then:  better paying jobs for themselves and/or money for their families, flirtation, pretense of emotional caring and support, marriage, offers specifically for modeling jobs, offers for education, appeals for help of various kinds, plays on sympathies, etc.  
 
In some cases, after gaining victim's trust, women or children are/were blackmailed.  Fearful that their families will not believe them or will accuse them of promiscuity and reject them, they are afraid and feel compelled to sneak out and “service” men when called.  Some are sold to traffickers or users by members of their own family, or by someone they trust.

            Once trapped—sometimes after being unwittingly drugged and/or blackmailed—women are often transported far from their home (crossing borders to other states or  countries).  Held against their will through abuse, enforced poverty, lack of ID, lack of language skills, lack of visas or passports, they may simply not know who to trust or where to go for help in the country in which they find themselves.  Isolation, threats to their person or their family, repeated brain washing that they are dirty, worthless, unwanted, unloved, and good for nothing but sex with paying customers are all tools that traffickers use to intimidate and control their victims.

            Fear of what will happen if they try to escape, fear that they have ruined their lives and will have no other way to live, fear for themselves and loved ones, resulting health problems, feelings of hopelessness and a constantly reinforced sense of self-worthlessness all form formidable prisons for victims of trafficking.  Even if it seems they can physically escape, they may not be able to break the emotional or mental chains that bind them.

All those things happened then, and they continue to happen to victims today.

KL: Yes, and the reality is sickening.  Band of Sisters illuminates the hearts and souls behind the issue. Thank you, Cathy, for sharing this info. We'll finish this discussion on Thursday, okay?

CG: Sounds good, looking forward to it!


My Review    


            After their mother‘s death, Maureen O’Reilly and her sister Katie Rose flee Ireland under cover of darkness. Childhood friend Joshua Keeton aids their escape, and they land on Ellis Island with grand hopes of a better life in America. Their arrival is less than joyous, however, as thirteen-year-old Katie Rose is ill. To make matters worse, Maureen learns that their stateside benefactor has passed away. Fearful of deportation, a desperate Maureen lands a job at a department store under false pretenses.

            Olivia Wakefield, the daughter of the O’Reilly’s late benefactor, struggles in the wake of her father’s death. She resists the pressure to marry well and maintain a fa├žade of happiness among the upper echelon of 1910 society. Keeping up appearances pales in comparison to what she believes God has called her to do. Upon discovering her father’s connection to the O’Reilly family, Olivia sets out to help Maureen and Katie Rose.

            Maureen and Olivia inadvertently discover that the department store where Maureen works is a front for illegal activity. Concerned for Katie Rose’s safety, and unsure of Olivia’s motives, Maureen turns to Joshua for help. Olivia, frustrated with Maureen’s distrust, seeks help from Curtis Morrow, her brother in law’s new business partner. An elaborate plan unfolds, and loyalties are tested beyond what Maureen and Olivia ever imagined. 

            Will Maureen and Olivia successfully battle the illegal underground network that has spread into New York’s polite society? Can either trust the men set in their path, and perhaps find a future with them? I won’t say any more, lest I spoil this wonderful story of adventure and redemption. 

            Band of Sisters addresses social injustice that was not only common during the early 20th century, but also one that plagues us today. Cathy discreetly brings light and life to the issue through this suspenseful and compelling tale. Her stirring and heartwarming story had me from beginning to end – I give Band of Sisters, her fourth novel, two thumbs up.


Giveaway Details


  • You must be a follower and leave your email address with your comment. 
  • Gain bonus entries (+1 each) by posting this on Facebook, your blog, and/or Twitter. Please total your entries and include link with your comment where applicable.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight EST Friday September 7, 2012. Winner will be notified via email and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Monday, September 10, 2012.


For more info on Cathy and her books, visit her website.

Do you have any questions for Cathy? Have you heard any family stories about relatives who entered the United States through Ellis Island?

Please join Cathy and me for Thursday's post, where Cathy shares more about her writing journey.  Hope you can join us!



Happy reading and writing,
 Karen

54 comments :

  1. WOW! Sounds interesting. Lucky you Karen. I never heard of Cathy though. Sorry for me but ya, I am looking forward to read her book. Currently searching her in Wiki :)

    Thanks for updating on this! I am thrilled to read the interviews. Amazing one!

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  2. Thanks so much for having me today, Karen, and for your wonderful review! I appreciate the opportunity to help raise awareness of this issue, and to encourage readers to take a stand for abolition.

    God's blessings!

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  4. Happy Labor Day to you and your readers! Richard

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  5. Wow, I had no idea that this kind of thing happened now days. This looks like a book I definitley want to check out. My email address is masoncml3@yahoo.com and I have started doing book reviews of my blog it is http://melinathereader.com. Thanks for the great interview.

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  6. I shared this on my Facebook page, the line is https://www.facebook.com/#!/MelinasBookBlog

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  7. Wow! What an interesting interview! I know a little about the Mann Act because I centered my book around it and the FBI (kind of)but I hadn't dug as in-depth as you. YOur book sounds fascinating!

    Karen, you won chocolate. :-)

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  8. I had no idea, I would love to read this book. I am following on GFC Jennifer Hiles, jjoliet@hotmail.com

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  9. I shared on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferMaeHiles/posts/410251769033871
    jjoliet@hotmail.com

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  10. I shared on twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferHiles/status/242652376979345408
    jjoliet@hotmail.com

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  11. Yeesi,
    Cathy is w wonderful guest and author. I hope you get a chance to read her books! They are winners! :)

    Cathy,
    It's always a pleasure to have you here. Thanks for visiting this week!

    Richard,
    Thank you, and to you as well!

    Melina,
    It's great to meet you! Thanks so much for following and spreading the word! Will hop over to your blog asap.

    Jessica,
    Cathy always has good things to share. The book was wonderful - rich, suspenseful, and enlightening. I'm squealing inside over the chocolate, you know. :) Thanks so much!

    Jennifer,
    Great to meet you as well! Thanks so much for coming on by! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  12. Not sure if meant GFC or email follower so I subscribed via email also - jjoliet@hotmail.com

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  13. I wrote a blog post: http://thegistofitwithjenn.blogspot.com/2012/09/write-now-visit-with-author-cathy-gohlke.html
    jjoliet@hotmail.com

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  14. Hi Karen and Cathy,

    Great interview--questions and answers. Cathy's book sounds fantastic!

    I remember reading about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in college and was horrified by it.

    As far as an Ellis Island story, my great-grand father was an Irish immigrant who came to America during the Great Famine. His brogue was so thick the clerk recording his last name couldn't understand him and misspelled it. Our family has lived with the misspelling for generations--except for one uncle who changed it back to the original version.

    I love the subject matter and the cover of Cathy's book and would love to win a copy.

    dvolkenannt (at) charter.net

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  15. Jennifer,
    I did mean GFC - but I should clarify that. Thanks for the reminder! Added you to the list. Thanks, too, for sharing it on your blog! :)

    Donna,
    Thanks so much. Cathy is a great guest. :) I suspect that many immigrants had the same issues with translation and speech. Interesting stuff! Got you on the list! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  16. Wow, what a compelling and eye opening subject mattter! The cover is lovely and from your review the book sounds like worthwhile reading.

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  17. Band of Sisters sounds really fascinating. Thanks for a great post. I'm a new follower! :)

    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

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  18. I would love to win this book. It is definitely on my TBR pile.

    I am a GFC follower.

    I shared on Facebook.

    I shared on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ladettek/status/242694334443569152

    I also shared on my blog: http://pwnmom.blogspot.com/2012/09/write-now-visit-with-author-cathy-gohlke.html

    thanks!

    ladettek[at]gmail[dot]com

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  19. Annie,
    I know, it is s a tough but worthy topic! The cover really draws you in, doesn't it? I loved the book.

    Amy,
    It's great to meet you! Thanks for following; I added you to the list. :)

    Ladette,
    Nice to meet you! Thanks so much for passing the info along. Will hop over to your blog. Got you in the list!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  20. Sounds interesting though tragic. I hope she raises awareness through her book.

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  21. I wanted to read that book as soon as I saw the cover. Thanks for the article. I am a follower, and shared
    on FB and Twitter.
    godblessamerica.jan(at)gmail(dot)com

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  22. I really, really want to read this book. It's on my wish list. Thank you for the chance.
    Karen
    kmgervais(at)nycap(dot)rr(dot)com

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  23. I'm a follower.

    I tweeted.
    https://twitter.com/MsRubyKat/status/242729337374261248

    Karen
    kmgervais(at)nycap(dot)rr(dot)com

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  24. Nancy,
    It is interesting. Tragic too, but (spoiler alert!) the book ends happily for the main characters. :)

    Jan,
    I know, I love the cover too! Good to meet you. Thanks so much for sharing this post. Got you on the list! :)

    Karen,
    It's nice to meet you. Thanks so much for sharing this info! Your name is on the list. :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  25. So many wonderful visitors today, Karen! I'm thrilled that so many are eager to raise awareness of human trafficking and to do what they can to abolish it. Together we truly can make a difference.

    The stories mentioned here about families coming through Ellis Island are so interesting to me. My husband's family came through Ellis Island, too. Some of the stories I've heard surely differ for women and men, and how they were treated. Thank you all for sharing!

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  26. Is is unbelieveable that this continues to happen today. Thanks for the courage to touch on this subject. sdlbishop2(at)gmail(dot)com

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  27. Wow, sounds like an intense read. Thanks, Karen, for introducing me to Karen and her work.

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  28. Sally,
    I know, it's a terrible thing. I like the way Cathy has highlighted the issue in a sensitive manner.

    Ruth,
    It is, but it's a good story with a happy ending. Glad to introduce you both! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  29. I am so thankful for writers, speakers, and organizations that are bringing the horrors of modern slavery to the limelight. We need that awareness.

    Thank you Cathy - for writing this book.

    Karen - Thank you for having Cathy!

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  30. What a fascinating and utterly relevant topic. One of our neighbors, in fact, has gone into full-time ministry with an organization who works to free those trapped in modern-day slavery. Good for Cathy, shining a light on this horrific fact of life.

    rschrockmt@yahoo.com

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  31. So fascinating! I love how writers can take some heart-wrenching, true life issues that happened historically and wind that up with a great plot. :)

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  32. Wow! Excellent interview. Learned so much!

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  33. Tyrean,
    Me too. I agree, we have such an opportunity to spread the word. Glad you stopped by! :)

    Rhonda,
    It surely is a timely topic, and the book covers it very well, even though set years ago. Great stuff that illuminates this horrible thing.

    Lydia,
    I know, it really is a wonderful thing! In many ways, we have the ability to speak for those who cannot.

    Laura,
    Glad you liked it. I learned so much as well!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  34. Hi Karen, Hello Cathy,

    Loved reading this post.

    Nas

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  35. That book would've been fascinating to research. It's definitely on my TBR list.

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  36. Thanks for the great interview, ladies. Alma Matthews sounds like an inspirational woman!

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  37. Nas,
    Hello to you too! :) Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Lynda,
    I agree. I imagine that the story could have gone any number of ways depending on what research you focused on, too.

    Talli,
    Indeed she does. I need to check out her writings.

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  38. I am putting this book on my TBR list. Wishing Cathy loads of luck.

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  39. Definitely on my list of books to read. It's frightening how terrible human beings can be to each other, especially to women. No wonder aliens don't visit. Our world is to scary. Thanks for sharing this news, Karen. And BOL Cathy!

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  40. Wow, I learned something already without even reading your book yet! Very interesting. Something I wouldn't even think about happening back then.

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  41. It would be a pleasure to win this wonderful book. Checked the library and they don't have it. May have to put it on my wish list. Thank you for the giveaway.

    prettyinpurplerose(at)aol(dot)com

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  42. I'm now a GFC follower.

    prettyinpurplerose(at)aol(dot)com

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  43. Tweeted. https://twitter.com/KevlinReads/status/243436746547818497

    prettyinpurplerose(at)aol(dot)com

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  44. Rachna,
    I think you might enjoy it. I thought it was an excellent read! :)

    Joylene,
    Let me know how you like it! It is a terrible thing, yet Cathy brings light to the subject in a wonderful way.

    Jennifer,
    Glad you learned something. I always learn something from Cathy. :)

    Kevlin,
    It's nice to meet you! Thanks so much for following and passing the word along. Hope you can join us for Part Two tomorrow! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  45. Some good news--"Band of Sisers" has just released, so probably has not made it to your local library yet. Ask your librarian to order it and they're usually very cooperative. That way it will be there for you and others, too.

    If you want to know more about organizations that help victims of human trafficking and also some that help bring predators to justice, just visit the resource page on my website. If you know of others, please let me know. I'd love to add them to the list! The more information we can share the better.

    God's blessings for you all!

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  46. This is something I would truly love to read. Please enter me. None of family imigrated through Ellis Island. They were born here. But they do have Indian blood. Loved the review.
    jrs362 at hotmail dot com

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  47. Hi Karen .. Cathy's book does sounds so interesting - with an ability to open our eyes to things that are going on today, and obviously happened back then ...

    I'll definitely be buying her book - TBR ... cheers Hilary

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  48. Squiresj,
    The book is rich with history and action - just a great combo. :) So your relatives were already here - interesting stuff!

    Hilary,
    I am saddened by the parallels, yet glad that light can be shed on a current issue this way. Hope you enjoy it!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  49. I enjoy reading Cathy Gohlke's books. Band of Sisters sounds like a fabulous read. Please enter my name. Thank you.

    msbookwormlady(at)aol(dot)com

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  50. I'm a follower and I tweeted.
    https://twitter.com/MsBookwormLady/status/243800132989112320

    msbookwormlady(at)aol(dot)com

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  51. Hi Karen & Cathy -

    So nice to see two of my favorite people here at Write Now!

    I loved Cathy's book, but found it sobering. From other interviews and her comments, I know the reality was and is far worse than portrayed in the story.

    Cathy, how do you decide on what to include and what to leave out?

    Blessings,
    Susan

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  52. Kay,
    It's good to meet you! Thanks so much for spreading the word. It is a wonderful book. :)

    Susan,
    Right back at you, friend! So glad you introduced us. :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  53. Great topic! Very relevant for today's reader.
    Thanks for the information, Karen and Cathy!!

    Bless you!

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  54. Cheryl,
    I agree, it is a great topic! Glad you enjoyed Cathy's visit!
    Blessings,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!