Kristin Ward - Greed, Gold Mines and a Pandemic
Kristin Ward is an award-winning author from Connecticut. She embraces her inner nerd regularly, geeking out with SciFi flicks or quoting 80s movies while expecting those around her to chime in with appropriate rejoinders. As a nature freak, she can be found wandering the woods - she may be lost, so please stop and ask if you see her - or chilling in her yard with all manner of furry and feathered friends. Often referred to as a unicorn by colleagues, in reality, the horn was removed years ago, leaving only a mild imprint that can be seen if she tilts her head just right. A lifelong lover of books and writing, she dreamed of becoming an author for thirty years but lazed about and didn’t publish anything until 2018. Her debut novel, After the Green Withered, is the first of other stuff you should probably read.
Please give us a short introduction to what Legacy of Gold is about.
Legacy of Gold takes you on a journey from the deepest mine in South Africa to small-town America as a virus travels the world. The story begins after an economic disaster spurs an uptick in the purchase of gold as a safe and stable commodity. It is this drive to dig deeper, go farther into the earth with no regard to consequence, which leads to a discovery that ripples across the globe in a wave viral contagion.
Tell us more about Thato. What makes him tick?
Thato is a nineteen-year-old man who has been thrust into the role of the provider after his father passes away. In a community reeling from an economic downturn, it is hard to find steady work and he turns to the less savory side of society in an effort to help his family. His drive is pure and he innocently stumbles upon something monstrous.
What inspired you to write about a pandemic that starts in an African goldmine?
The idea of a gold mine came from a desire to tell a story that wove societal elements into its fabric. At its heart, greed is the catalyst and what better representation than gold – that precious metal that has been killed for over the centuries – to be the thing that starts it all? I researched mines and came across many articles about the deepest mine in Africa, a place so deep in the earth that it is utterly uninhabitable and, without various interventions put into place, people would not be able to work in its depths. From that dark pit, comes an entity that finds its way into the global community.
Why did you pick a South African township as the breeding grounds for the pandemic?
The story begins with a young man who has limited opportunities and is struggling to provide for his family. With this in mind, I wanted a location that was in proximity to the mine and reflected the hardships that people like Thato could face in a time of economic strife. The Alexandra Township is a thriving, vibrant community, but like any largely populated areas, there are people who are struggling to survive. It was also important to me to consider the history of that part of the world and how oppression has shaped the way the community evolved and how disparity is still evident today. Ramifications of this disparity serve to create a breeding ground for an outbreak.
Readers get to experience the story from a small-town American doctor's perspective. Why did you take this approach?
I felt like we hear so much about large cities and the medical professionals within these settings without thinking about the reality for rural community hospitals that have limited equipment and space. I wanted to consider what a full-blown pandemic would look like for these small settings as this perspective doesn’t necessarily find its way into mainstream conversation.
Are there any parallels you can draw between your book and what we are experiencing today?
This book is inspired by the crisis we are facing today. Like all of us, I am unable to escape the reality of what we are experiencing and decided to pour my energy into a book as an outlet for my emotions. It was a cathartic experience. While the story is completely fictional and I take many leaps from fact to fiction, I have grounded elements in the realities we are facing today.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I excel at procrastination! If something can be put off for another time, I guarantee that I am the woman to make that happen. You can find evidence of this exceptional skill in piles of laundry or unfinished tasks with deadlines that are long gone. I also knit – poorly and rarely.
How much research did Legacy of Gold require from you?
I did a great deal of research before and during the writing process. I really enjoy delving into the research aspect of any project and this one allowed me to look into aspects of our world that I have not known about prior to this novella. The most interesting parts of my research grew out of the mine and I can tell you that I don’t ever want to go to the depths that miners visit at such a location! I also did a great deal of research about everything from viruses to hospitals to ER doctors in small settings.
Tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
The cover image is a nematode. When I was thinking about the host for the virus, I wanted something rare that could be found at great depths. I came across an article about nematodes that had been found at depths scientists hadn’t realized that type of organism could survive in. Once I read that, I learned more about these organisms and knew this was the entity I had to incorporate. Finding an image was another challenge!
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Without giving too much away, the overarching message is how the missteps of man become his doom. Each of us live in small pockets of the world, going about our daily lives, and sometimes the decisions of a few impact all of us at profound levels. As a species, we do not always consider the consequences of our actions.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
Time is my biggest enemy when it comes to writing and I grab whatever moments I can, spending evenings and weekends in my writing chair. The space itself is unlike that of most writers. I have no desk. Rather, I sit in a reclining chair that I inherited from my grandmother, extending the footrest at the perfect angle to prop my computer on my lap. This allows me to be in the heart of the house and not miss out on the active life of a working mother of three sons.
What are you working on right now?
Lately, I feel like I have writer ADD…squirrel! I have three projects that I am working on right now as my mind has been spinning with stories over the last few weeks. The projects I become most invested in begin with an opening scene in my head that grabs me and the story spins from there, often taking turns I hadn’t anticipated. I have an adult fiction series I am planning as well as a young adult series.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I am on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, my podcast, and Linkedin. I also have a website and send out newsletters regularly. I enjoy interacting with readers and welcome you to find me on social media and say hi!