Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love and Culture: An interview with romance author, Shewanda Pugh

Today, it’s great to be able to welcome Shewanda Pugh, the author of Crimson Footprints. First Shewanda, where did the idea for Crimson Footprints come from? 

Crimson Footprints began with a loathsome assignment in a graduate level fiction writing class at Nova Southeastern University. As part of the creation of a character sketch, I had to “people watch” at a public locale here in Miami until my muse was sparked. So, grudgingly I went to a local Barnes & Nobles and stayed there until someone piqued my interest. Let’s just say the guy in question had an “urban” look, complete with baggy clothes, an iPod and tattoos. He went over to the literary fiction section and stayed there for an hour. For me, that stranger was a memorable lesson in looking beyond the surface, and though they share virtually nothing in common, he nonetheless served as inspiration for Takumi Tanaka, the character which sparked the first seeds of the story. Some people find it surprising that it was the hero and not the heroine who I came up with first.

How much research went into Crimson Footprints?

A lot. I found that although there was a lot of material out there on Japanese culture, there was very little on Japanese American culture. I spent months researching that alone, and picking the brain of author Gil Asakawa. In addition to that, I had to do quite a bit of research on African American culture, which might surprise some.

How long did it take you to complete Crimson Footprints? 

Two years. Its earliest rendition was in the form of a massive migraine and a completed Master’s thesis.

What’s your writing process like? How do you go from piles of research to a finished product?

My writing is like organized chaos. Though I write every day, it happens in fragments. Sometimes there are bursts of inspiration jotted down or typed up in an instant—other times it’s a linear process where I’m going from Chapters 1 to 2 and so forth, linking together my work. Only when I’m done with the story do I go back for revisions.

What are you currently working on?

I’m in the middle of a series which is a coming-of-age story about a young, privileged African American girl who’s a budding ballerina. Her family is extremely close to the Indian family next door and eventually she falls for their son. However, custom dictates that the relationship is impossible despite their lifelong bond.

Your writing seems to focus on interaction between different ethnic groups. What fuels this reoccurring theme? 

For a very long time, I’ve been fascinated by cultures other than my own—what they eat, wear, worship and the historical whys of it all. Naturally, this fascination found its way into my writing.

Which writers have had the greatest influence on you?

As contrary as this may sound, the two writers with the greatest influence on me have been Amy Tan and Stephen King. I adore Tan’s layered approach to family conflict and King’s bluntness in storytelling. I’ve also been influenced a great deal by James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces and Sapphire’s Precious. You’ll notice that love is always at the center of my stories and I tend to treat it as this great web, spinning outward and affecting all things around it. But the human experience is always there, too. In other words, my romances don’t occur in a vacuum. I enjoy the evolution of life and seek to explore its endless variations in all that I write.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Stick with it, ignore the doubters and write something every day.

Why are you a writer?

Most writers will tell you that it’s not about choice—that writing’s in you. I’m no different. I’ve been writing stories for as long as I could put pen to paper, and before that I drew stick figures that told a story.

Where can we find Crimson Footprints?

Crimson Footprints is available in Kindle and through print at

Thank you so much for telling us about yourself and your great book! Please let us know when your next novel comes out.


  1. Great interview! I think Shewanda is a terrific writer. I'm somewhat bias, because I've known her since our freshman year in college...(smile). Nevertheless, she is an excellent writer and a good person. I wish her much success!

    1. Thank you OJT for commenting. I think Shewanda will be a huge success!

  2. What a wonderful interview--I would be interested to read Crimson Footprints--and glad to see it is on Kindle!! Cheers, Jenn