Book Review: A Thousand Steps

(Last Updated On: November 28, 2014)

From the snow-covered mountains of North Carolina to the untamed wilds of Indian Territory, ‘A Thousand Steps’ takes readers on a perilous quest for freedom, truth and love.

In 1855, risking everything for a chance at happiness, two women—separated by class, race, and geographic distance – undertake a journey to the rugged plains of Indian Territory.  There, their lives intersect in a stunning explosion of danger, death and revenge.

When Tama flees Royaltin Ridge, the North Carolina plantation where she was born into slavery, she boldly joins forces with Hakan, a fugitive Creek Indian who is also on the run.  Hakan offers Tama refuge at Great Oaks, his village hidden deep within the Georgia forest.  There, she falls in love with the stoic, yet handsome man, and settles among the Indians, believing her life as a free woman will endure.  However, Tama’s peace and security are short-lived.

Her ruthless master, Thorne Royaltin, who is obsessed with reclaiming his property, will stop at nothing to achieve that end.  Hakan’s sister, Suja, resents the arrival of the beautiful mulatto girl who has stolen her brother’s heart, and vows to make Tama disappear.  When the government forcibly removes the Indians from their village and marches them into Indian Territory, Tama is thrown into a downward spiral that threatens to destroy all hope for freedom, as well as a future with Hakan.

Elinore Wardlaw is an avid abolitionist and a military wife separated from her husband, Paul, for 4 years.  Determined to reunite her family, Elinore and her young son travel from their home in Ohio to Fort Gibson, the sprawling Army installation near the Arkansas border—the entry point to Indian Territory.  Elinore’s arrival at the fort brings her husband great pleasure, but it also creates a rift in their marriage that they struggle to overcome.  Paul’s deeply rooted southern heritage haunts his marriage, testing his commitment to the woman he loves.

The unlikely collision of Tama and Elinore’s lives serves as the catalyst to expose a shocking secret that defines their futures and catapults them into a bitter struggle to survive.

Author-to-Author Interview with Anita Bunkley

Her uncanny ability to tap into genres that many African-American authors don’t experiment with, allows Anita Bunkley to continue to courageously chart her own territory. Known for her rich, Texas-themed historical fiction and sweeping romantic sagas, she releases her latest work, A Thousand Steps. (Rinard Publishing). Here she tells another riveting tale, one about a runaway slave who takes refuge among the Creek Indians, falls in love, and gets caught up in the forced removal of the tribe when the government marches Indians into reservations in Indian Territory in the West.

Bunkley’s career started 20-plus years ago when she left her hometown of Ohio. She moved to Texas to launch her career as an author with the 1989 self-published novel, “Emily the Yellow Rose,” which was recently re-released as an e-book. In Rose,she creates the legend of the mulatto woman who was, according to folklore, the real Yellow Rose of Texas. Her second novel, “Black Gold,” a dramatic story based on the well-documented Texas Oil Boom of the1920s was bought by Penguin USA. Other titles by Bunkley include the historical novels, “Starlight Passage” and  “Wild Embers,”  as well as contemporary fiction, non-fiction, and six romances written for Kimani Press.

Many of her novels and anthologies, have appeared in Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Black Expressions Book Club, and have appeared on Blackboard: African American Bestseller List, and in publications like Publishers Weekly, and  Glamour Magazine. After receiving a number of literary awards and honors, Bunkley has some publishing insight for  EMPOWER magazine’s upcoming authors and readers.anitabunkley

What lessons have you learned from your publishing experience?  

Write as many drafts as it takes to get it right.  It is best not to rush the process, but to keep writing and keep pushing the project forward.  Only take writing advice from someone who has written, edited, agented or published a good body of work.

I know that you are publishing this novel independently and as an e-book and a POD. Describe the process or experience of working with this project.

I’ve worked on the book off and on or over10 years, having visited many of the locations featured in the story.  I remained intrigued by the story premise so I finally decided that I’d write it in 2012.  My goal was to write an historical that touched on the relationships between various cultures and races during this time of great transition in America.

What do you want people to gain from it? 

I want readers to be entertained by a story that also sheds light on a period of time when the West was opening up.  The presence of a variety of races and cultures is part of the story of the American West and I hope readers will enjoy learning more about this period in history.

What is your attitude about the state of self-publishing?  

Publishing independently is so much easier to accomplish now than it had been in the past and it provides an effective outlet for authors to reach readers.  The goal of the process is to produce a well-written and well-edited book that readers will embrace.  It’s very important to rely on professional support in all phases of the production process in order to create a quality product.  The publishing process is rapidly evolving toward more online book production and readers are reading more on e-readers than ever before.  I see this as a shift that changes how we view self-publishing, making it a more acceptable and convenient way of launching and maintaining a writing career.

How do you feel about e-books and audio books vs. print books?

I love both and believe that avid readers do too.  We will always want to hold print books in our  hands but love the convenience and ease of the new ways of accessing material.

I know that you are a teacher but what or who inspired you to become an author? What was your favorite book and who was your favorite author?

My love of reading inspired me to write.  I wanted to write the kinds of stories I wanted to read because I could not find many historical fiction novels with romantic themes featuring African-American characters.  One of my favorite books is “Green City in the Sun” by Barbara Woods.  It is a sprawling novel set in Kenya, Africa that weaves the stories of a black family and a white family together to tell their sides of the racial situation during the early part of the twentieth century.

You can keep up with Anita Bunkley’s latest projects at www.anitabunkley.com and can reach her by e-mail at arbun@sbcglobal.net.

Book Review: A Thousand Steps