NAW Interview with Lauren Francis Sharma


Lauren Francis Sharma was born in New York City to Trinidadian immigrants and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English literature with a minor in African-American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.  She worked as a corporate lawyer at SkaddenArps (NY) and Shaw Pittman (D.C.) before becoming counsel at Constellation Energy Group.  In 2007, she became a stay-at-home of my two girls and began writing ‘Til the Well Runs Dry, in 2009. Learn more about her here.

NAW- Tell us about your book, ‘Til the Well Runs Dry.’ What is it about? How did you get the idea for the book?

‘Til the Well Runs Dry’ is a tale about family, love and sacrifice.  When the story opens you meet, Marcia Garcia, a sixteen year old seamstress who is raising two boys alone.  When she meets Farouk Karam, an ambitious young policeman, so insistent on their love that he elicits help from a tea-brewing obeah woman, the rewards and risks in Marcia’s life amplify forever.  The story takes you from their courtship through personal and historical events that threaten a family secret and entangle the couple and their children in a scandal that threatens to uproot the entire life they’ve built. The bones of the story is my grandmother’s.  She was from this very small fishing village in Trinidad and then one day decided she needed to make a better future for her children.  She took a job as a domestic worker in the U.S., leaving her children behind for a few years, and forged a new life.  I wrote this book because I never knew her story and needed to fill in all of those voids she left behind with something.

NAW-How did you develop the character of Marcia Garcia. She is in an unusual position as the relationship with her lover is unequal, he being a policeman. The love affair was meant to doom, wasn’t it?

Marcia was not seeking love, she was seeking to survive. I believe Farouk felt as if he could save her and in the end, it is she who saves Farouk. However, I never believed that the relationship was doomed because of the disparate positions of the two partners.  In any relationship, each partner must make a decisive leap toward love.  If either of the two hesitates, then, indeed, it is doomed.  In this case, both are hesitant at different times, thereby making it seem as if it is unequal.

Til The Well runs Dry

NAW- How was it like being back in Trinidad? How did you carry out the research for your book?

Trinidad is a beautiful country.  It is geographically lush and the people and the food are diverse and wondrous.  When I was growing up, we didn’t have the financial ability to travel there often, so I’ve never felt it as my home, though I feel a strong connection to it.  As such, writing Til the Well Runs Dry proved challenging.  On the visits that I took while writing this novel, I had to quickly absorb my surroundings, note the colors and textures and the voices, then pray that when I returned to my computer, it was all correct.  Of course, I read a lot of books, including some by the first Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams, but I also used my parents as a resource. They retold old stories, added new ones and read the drafts again and again.  I certainly couldn’t have understood the loss of home and the transitioning to a new life without their guidance.

NAW- Do you feel immigrants have better lives in Trinidad as compared to US in terms of assimilation, not facing racism etc. Did you ever face racism and if yes, how did you deal with it?

We live in a world where the first thing you notice about someone is their race, particularly if it is different from your own.  This is true no matter where you live.  Certainly, the shades of discrimination vary depending on where you are in the world, but those from the Caribbean, including my parents and grandmother, were not, in their countries of origin, immune to prejudice, though I believe they were shocked by the stark every day racism in America. This is the racialized legacy of colonialism, the classist legacy of civilization, the manifestation of mankind’s ever-present battle against hisown fears and insecurities.The civil rights movements in both the Caribbean and America offered people-of-color a different lens with which to view themselves.  Those movements changed the course of the world, but they didn’t make racism go away.  So yes, of course, I have faced racism. The first one hundred times feels like a punch in the face and you just want to cry.  The second hundred times makes you so angry, you want to hurt someone because it simply feels mean and unfair.  And then when you mature, when you understand that people who feel “less than” are often times the meanest animals in the zoo, when you realize that that kind of hate is actually another form of genetic insanity, much like schizophrenia, you are able to find the right words for that moment, you are able to keep your head held high, you are able to dodge the internalization bullet and simply move on.

NAW- Tell us about your other works.

This is my first published novel. I wrote two before that I failed to get published.  Of course, that was disappointing, but if those had been published, I likely would not have felt compelled to write ‘Til the Well Runs Dry and this story needed to be told.  Hopefully, I will make my first novel a screenplay one day!

NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?

I am a full-time mother. Carpool, laundry, house-cleaning, cooking dinner (when I’m moved to do so), homework. I travelled far more when I did not have children but I still view travel as the most important thing one can do, outside of reading books.  Yet, I’m an avid tv watcher and an armchair movie critic, a huge news junkie and I love talking to my friends on the phone, just like I did when we still had cords connected to them.

NAW- What are your upcoming projects?

I’m working on a new novel that I’m terribly excited about and thinking (just thinking!) about a children’s book.  I’m one of those parents who complains about the lack of diversity in children’s literature.  My children are Hindu and Catholic, Guyanese and Trinidadian, African-American and Indian, and it makes no sense that our books do not reflect the diversity I see in the faces of America’s children everyday.  Yet, writing a children’s book is harder than any other genre, I believe, so if you don’t see it on the shelves in the next few years, just know that I gave it the “good ole college try”!

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