Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Random Lit...3 on 3 with Shewanda Pugh and the Crimson Footprints Series

Shewanda Pugh
Novelist Shewanda Pugh scorched the literary scene with her debut novel, Crimson Footprints, in 2012. Since then, she's been featured in newspapers, radio shows, and television networks throughout the U.S. Shortlisted for the National Black Book Festival's Best New Author Award, the AAMBC Reader's Choice Award, and the prestigious Rone Award for Contemporary Fiction, she's best known for brazen, out-the-box romances that delve deep into contrary worlds. Pugh whips up wit, charm, humor and a dose of heartache, for a sophisticated recipe all her own.
Find Her:

Shewanda's Facebook
Shewanda's Twitter
Shewanda's Goodreads Page

Q & A Session
Q: Interracial relationships and how they're viewed seem to play a major role in this series. What was the influence behind that and what message were you trying to convey? Are there any personal undercurrents to it?
A: Well, the first "seed" for Crimson Footprints was planted with the idea of Tak. I knew who and what he'd be before I had an inkling of the world that surrounded him. He seemed the sort that would be stuck in a convoluted, conflicting world. So, that was the world I built around him. Everything and everyone, including Deena, was a product of that original idea. The only personal undercurrent I can see is that both Tak and I are the children of immigrants. It's the equivalent of forever straddling two worlds.
Q: Throughout the novels you approached time from a "vantage point." You skipped ahead by years, but you still showed the growth, or lack of it, amongst the characters. I've seen quite a few authors stick to picking up exactly where one story left off or with only a few days/weeks between, choosing to show development as it unfolds. Was it hard to go with that process?
A: I did what felt most natural. In the case of the Crimson Footprints series, it seemed that readers would want to see that lapse in time. It represented not just how their favorite characters grew (or regressed) but realism...and real life. I can't imagine a string of events "happening" to people endlessly the way it does in fiction without breaks in time. I strive for authenticity in my stories. The lapses in time are just another way I provide them.
Q: How would you classify your writing in terms of growth from the first book of this series to the last one? If you could go back and change anything within the novels would you?
A: Wow. The growth has been tremendous. It's hard to put into words. First, I was still in my grad school writing program when I penned most of book one. I look back on that and see some things that I wish I would have done differently. By book two I can see that my skills have been honed more and my writing is more focused. I won't comment on what I wish I could change because I have this nasty habit of editing so much that I wind up back where I started. So, I'm not so sure my changes would be worth much.

Just for the record, the hopeless romantic in me loved book one the most, but I thoroughly enjoyed all three books and cannot wait to read more from you. Thank you so much for stopping by and chatting with me!

Reviews and Purchase Links
The first novel in the series, Crimson Footprints, journeys through the ups and downs of a love story. The insecure Deena Hammond happens upon the brilliant Takumi Tanaka and although their relationship seems highly unlikely in a sea of doubt, hatred, and blasphemy, the two explore like no other.

Deena is bred from a family where her mother murdered her father, her grandparents blame her and her siblings for their deaths, and her siblings…well let’s just say her siblings are the least of her worries. Her biggest problem should be that of her boss and Takumi’s father, Daichi. While Deena may be bred from the slums, Takumi is the exact opposite. His father, arguably the best architect of his time, oozes class, wealth, and Japanese tradition. Takumi is expected to marry a Japanese woman, not the bi-racial Deena who he helplessly falls in love with.
Their relationship is kept a secret. Deena’s family would never accept or understand her love for a Japanese American man; they barely accept her. Takumi’s father would never accept and understand that his son has chosen to be with anyone other than a Japanese woman; this is proven in how Takumi’s uncle, who married a white woman, is all but cast out.
All hell breaks loose when Daichi discovers their relationship, fires Deena, and Takumi nearly dies.
I give the novel 5 stars. The author is an amazing writer, with a keen eye for description and you lose yourself quite easily within the pages. I’m also a sucker for romance and I love the way their story played out.

In book two in the Crimson Footprints series Takumi and Deena take a back seat to the relationship struggles of Lizzie Hammond, Deena’s prostituting, drug addicted younger sister; and Kenji Tanaka, Takumi’s hide-in-the-shadows younger brother.
Lizzie learned at a young age that sex sells, no matter the dollar amount. Her immature mind led her to sleep with her cousin’s boyfriend (grown-ass-pedophile-man, who later became her pimp!!) and from that point on she used sex as her biggest asset. A flash of her breast got her good grades. A blow job got her money for her clothes. Her body could get her almost anything she wanted…except love.
Kenji’s one true love is baseball, but his need for affection and attention from his father, Daichi, led him to accept the notion of being an architect. While he knows architecture, he’s not content with it. He would rather let everyone, including his father, assume he’s on the track to being a top architect.
A chance encounter with Lizzie trying to get information on a child claiming to be the son of her dead brother, Anthony, leads to a budding relationship between Kenji and Lizzie. Against all odds they prosper. They find in each other what they couldn’t find anywhere else. Although they try to fight it, it’s inevitable. Kenji becomes her rock; gets her into rehab and cleaned up. She becomes the one thing he can’t be without.
Book two shows the growth of the characters from book one; Deena and Takumi are married with a daughter, which shows their lives as parents and the issues they face while dealing with Anthony’s son. Daichi has become accepting of change and his son’s decision to be with Deena.
Overall Mrs. Pugh did an outstanding job, another 5 stars!

Crimson Footprints III: The Finale

I waited and waited and waited…and waited some more for this book to drop! When it finally came out I was beyond excited. I know you hear people say they read a book in a day or they stayed up all night trying to finish a book; well, I hate to sound cliché but that’s exactly what I did! When I read the synopsis, I remembered thinking, ugh another storm and the focus is Deena’s grandmother, why would Shewanda do that??? Of course I was pleasantly surprised.

Leave it to the sweet and charming Takumi to talk Deena into something as crazy as a family reunion with all of the Tanakas and the Hammonds…you know the ones who barely got along, stayed in the middle of some drama, basically oil and water?? What could possibly go wrong, right?

The novel progresses with each character coming to some sort of realization dealing with themselves or a person closest to them. Takumi and Deena find themselves struggling to be the once loving couple they used to be. Their relationship is strained and tested to the max. Takumi’s cousin, Mike, in his usual fashion, has his sights set on Deena and in the midst of it all he decides that he has to have her and takes his desires to an unbelievable level. Oh, and although I know it has significance, I could have done without Mike's interest at the end.

Hurtful truths and damaging lies are hurled carelessly amongst the family members. Fed up and trapped in a home in the middle of an Aruban storm everything comes to a head; relationships are mended, some are ended. Threats are made as well as promises. In the end, you’re left with the “happily ever after” and a promising future. The only thing I wish would have been different is more from Kenji and Lizzie; it seems they were all but forgotten in this novel.

Overall, loved it, 5 stars. Great ending to a great series.


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