Inspiration

Before I turned full time to writing fiction, I was a journalist. The Dark Path to the Riverbegins at the juncture between those two worlds. The novel features two women journalists as the central characters and considers the objective and subjective nature of reality both for the individual and for political bodies.

I was living in New York City when I began the book; I had left the newspaper where I was a reporter to concentrate on fiction. My apartment in New York was the hotel for many of my colleagues, especially those who were on their way to or from assignments abroad.

At one point a close friend was in town covering Yassar Arafat’s visit to the United Nations. She had spent considerable time in the Middle East interviewing the PLO, and she knew many of its members. The discontinuity between the personal lives of these individuals and their public lives and the public perception of their lives intrigued me both as a novelist and as one interested in politics and in the way personal life affects public policy and political reality.

Staying in my apartment at that same time was another friend on her way to Africa as a correspondent. Africa, not the Middle East, became the back story of The Dark Path to the River because my own interest lay there and because the political drama in the Middle East seemed more defined and settled in peoples’ minds. By creating an unnamed country in Africa, I felt I was in a more fluid place of imagination.

The Dark Path to the River actually takes place in New York City, but the book attempts to bring African characters and themes into the middle of New York and to bind the domestic confrontation of Jenny with the political confrontation Olivia is tracking at the U.N. The challenge for me in writing this book was to tie the personal and the political together and to move out of the realm of journalism into the realm of serious fiction.