Q: There’s no slavery in America these days. How do you handle that in your novel?

I thought a lot about what the greatest social evil of our time might look like to future generations. One of the things I came up with is our current hostility towards immigrants—in a country of immigrants! We can look back with the hindsight of history and chide our ancestors for such racist policies as the Chinese Exclusion Act, which closed the door to Chinese immigration at the turn of the century. But because we’re living in these times, it’s harder to see the racism underlying our current attitudes about "the war on illegal immigration" and the isolationism that some factions in this country would prefer.

Q: Thus Silvia, your illegal immigrant character?

Right. Silvia is an illegal alien from Mexico, but just as Jim the slave had hidden depths, she’s got some surprises for the heroine of the novel.