A Walk Across the Sun: Interview with Novelist Corban AddisonBlog / Produced by The High Calling
This interview with bestselling novelist Corban Addison first appeared on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Inspired by his captivating novel about two girls stolen into the world of brothels, it only took a minute to decide that we wanted you to meet Corban and his writing. His work has continued with a second thriller and a third on the way. High Calling readers, be encouraged.
Sam Van Eman: Corban, I just finished reading A Walk Across the Sun. I confess that I had to skip a few pages; I simply couldn’t read them due to the nature of the content. But I pushed on, held by the courage in so many of the characters. Why did you write this novel?
Corban Addison: Thank you for asking. My wife gave me the idea for the book. In 2008, we saw a film that opened our eyes to trafficking. When I started researching the issue, I felt compelled to do something about it. My wife suggested I write a novel that would bring the issue alive for readers of fiction and leave them with a question: Now that we know this injustice exists, what are we going to do about it?
SVE: A question you asked and answered yourself. In fact, you spent over a month in India with the International Justice Mission, shadowing the people who rescue young women from slavery. Help me understand that experience.
CA: IJM is an amazing organization because its people are fearless, tireless, and indefatigably optimistic. They spend their days making friends with criminals, inviting corrupt cops to become reformers, navigating challenging legal systems, and encouraging broken people to step courageously into the future. To spend time with their Indian team was an extraordinary honor. I interviewed their operatives, went to court with their lawyers, and went undercover into the brothels to meet trafficking victims firsthand. I will never forget the girls I met in the brothel. The sadness in their eyes was palpable, as was the fear. I didn’t need a degree in psychology to see that they weren’t there willingly. I was also privileged to meet a few of the girls IJM rescued from the brothels. They were very young and very hurt, but on the road to healing.
SVE: Fascinating and hopeful, Corban. You’ve joined the abolitionist movement. What can you say to those of us who can’t write novels or be trafficking lawyers; who may only get as close to abolition as going to a local MLK Day event?
CA: Since human trafficking is happening everywhere—in my city and yours, as well as in far-off countries like India—we all have a role to play in combatting it. We parents need to educate our daughters so they make wise choices about their friends (recruiters are usually young men) and our sons so they don’t become sex-buyers who fuel the trade with their cash. Educators need to bring the issue into schools. Non-profits like IJM need our donations. All of us can make a difference
SVE: But you’ve gone a step further and turned this into your day job.
CA: I have a degree in law, and I worked in civil litigation for six years while moonlighting as an aspiring writer. When I sold the rights to A Walk Across the Sun and The Garden of Burning Sand, I decided to take a chance and try writing full-time. The transition has been a joy and a challenge. As I see it, my calling isn’t limited to the words I put on the page. I’ve also committed to engaging the issues I write about through advocacy and charitable giving.
SVE: At The High Calling, we believe that whatever you do can be God’s work, if you do it in a way that honors God. Still, my work as a wilderness guide seems less important than freeing women forced to be prostitutes. Does this gradient exist, and what value do you put on your own calling as an international justice writer?
CA: All of us have a purpose on the earth. Our mission is to find that purpose and do it with all our hearts. Whatever work we do, our goal should be to increase the goodness, beauty, and justice in the world.
SVE: I heard you say, “I’m not a hero, but I get to write about them.” I get what you mean, but I think your role as a communicator simply makes you a different kind of hero. Is that fair to say?
CA: I like that thought, but you said it, not me.
SVE: Then I think it’s fair to say. Speaking of saying things, you received an endorsement—the first of its kind—by John Grisham. What pressure does this put on you to perform as you continue to write?
CA: After the reception given to A Walk Across the Sun, I felt a great deal of pressure to get my second novel just right, as did my editors. For me, the critical thing is to write stories I care about. My words don’t matter if my heart isn’t in them.
SVE: Your heart definitely showed in A Walk Across the Sun. Corban, you’re 33 and an aspiring author with stories to tell and the press to support you. If this continues, what do you hope people will say about you 50 years from now?
CA: That I spoke the truth courageously, that I opened people’s eyes to the world, and that I never strayed from my commitment to do justice through storytelling.
SVE: I see an epitaph in the making. How do you think A Walk Across the Sun will influence your future projects?
CA: My next novel addresses human rights issues in Southern Africa. I have many ideas for future stories, all of them justice related. I hope I get the chance to write them.
SVE: Me, too. Last question: What changes need to take place in United States culture for us to respond better to human trafficking?
CA: We have two great challenges before us: demand and priority. Sex trafficking is enormously profitable because so many men buy sex—one in six Americans, in fact. Until we focus on changing this behavior through education and law (as Sweden has done with success), the trade will continue to thrive. In addition, the U.S. spends more on military marching bands than on anti-trafficking initiatives. We talk a good talk, but we need to match our moral imperative with a monetary imperative. In a democracy, this kind of change can only happen if ordinary people rise up and demand it.
Top image by Chibi M. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Second image & typography by Kelly Sauer. Post written by Corban Addison. Corban holds degrees in law and engineering. As a full-time writer, he supports the abolition of modern slavery, and he is committed to broadening this support through the publication of A Walk Across the Sun. You can follow Corban on Facebook and take a first step by visiting International Justice Mission.