Interview with Author Naseem Rakha

This is a re-posting of an interview I did with author Naseem Rakha in June 2009. I thought all my fellow writers out there might appreciate it! She also has a trailer for her book here. I read the book as well and thought it was amazing. Enjoy!

I was honored to speak with Naseem Rakha in my first interview for my summer project to promote others through Facebook. I happened to meet Naseem in a group on Facebook. Her book, THE CRYING TREE, will be available in bookstores and online starting JULY 7th, 2009. It can also be pre-ordered, so reserve your copy now! The story sounds very powerful and I can’t wait to read it! Read along with my interview below…

KK: Naseem, thank you for joining me today! Please tell me about your new book, THE CRYING TREE.

NR: Irene and Nate Stanley are living a quiet and contented life with their two children, Bliss and Shep, on their family farm in southern Illinois when Nate suddenly announces he’s been offered a job as a deputy sheriff in Oregon. Irene fights her husband. She doesn’t want to uproot her family and has deep misgivings about the move. Nevertheless, the family leaves, and they’re just settling into their life in Oregon’s high desert when the unthinkable happens. Fifteen-year-old Shep is shot and killed during an apparent robbery in their home. The murderer, a young mechanic with a history of assault, robbery, and drug-related offenses, is caught and sentenced to death.

Shep’s murder sends the Stanley family into a tailspin, with each member attempting to cope with the tragedy in his or her own way. Irene’s approach is to live, week after week, waiting for Daniel Robbin’s execution and the justice she feels she and her family deserve. Those weeks turn into months and then years. Ultimately, faced with a growing sense that Robbin’s death won’t stop her pain, Irene takes the extraordinary and clandestine step of reaching out to her son’s killer. The two forge an unlikely connection that remains a secret from her family and friends.

Then Irene receives the notice that she had craved for so long – Daniel Robbin has stopped his appeals and will be executed within a month. This announcement shakes the very core of the Stanley family. Irene, it turns out, isn’t the only one with a shocking secret. As the execution date nears, the Stanleys must face difficult truths and find a way to come to terms with the past.

KK: Wow, what a fascinating concept. What motivated you to write a book dealing with the death penalty?

NR: In 1996, I was assigned to cover Oregon’s first execution in over thirty years. At the time I had never given much thought to the death penalty and what it would take for the state to plan out, prepare, and then kill a man. After the assignment, I wanted to learn more so I began to interview death row inmates, the people they had harmed, and the men and women we entrust to carry out our nation’s most severe sentence. During that time I heard many stories, some of them abhorrent some heartbreaking, but by far the most compelling were those told by the people that had come to terms with the murder of a loved one, and no longer felt it necessary to seek retribution. This arc, from the most desperate kind of anguish to reconciliation and even love stunned me, and compelled me to write The Crying Tree.

KK: Is THE CRYING TREE your first foray into the world of writing?

NR: THE CRYING TREE is my first novel. Prior to that I was a journalist for public radio, and prior to that I was an environmental consultant and facilitator. My degree, if you can believe it, is in geology.

KK: I happened to read on your site that Sister Helen Prejean, renowned death penalty opponent and author of DEAD MAN WALKING, has already given your book a great review. Has it received any other early reviews you would like to share?

NR: Yes – both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal have come out with early reviews, and readers for the Amazon Vine Program have come out with very strong praise. I believe that people are drawn to the universal sense that revenge and anger are, in their entirety, life draining and counterproductive. They appreciate reading about someone’s journey to the other side of hate.

KK: So I have to ask…where is your favorite place to write?

NR: Three or four times a year I treat myself to a weekend on the Oregon coast. I go there with three or four other writers, and we sit with our laptops and write all day. Taking occasional breaks to walk on the beach. Then, at night, we cook good meals, drink good wine and talk, talk, talk…..

KK: After reading our interview, I am sure people will want to know more about Naseem Rakha and THE CRYING TREE. Where can they go?

NR: The best place to find out more about the book is my web site
And the best way to be kept up to date on the book is to sign up for my email list posted on the web site. I also have a facebook site

Thank you for sharing with me, Naseem! Good luck with THE CRYING TREE and keep me posted on any upcoming new releases!


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