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David Swick: Often, though, we feel that if we spend a lot of time finding out such disturbing information, we will just become more depressed.

Alice Walker: Have the courage to be more depressed. In a world like this, where we are—as Americans, anyway—paying for so much suffering, who wants to be Little Miss Sunshine? It’s scary.

David Swick: You have said that when you write fiction, you write the book for the characters. Was there someone specifically you were writing this book for?

Alice Walker: Oh, yes, for our times. My regular publisher, Random House, didn’t want to publish this book, because my editor said they didn’t know what they could do with it. But I kept saying to them, “We live in a time when things are so dire, and politics especially. The political discussion is so discouraging that people need a book that is political but is at the same time infused with spirituality. They need a book that instructs them to step back and meditate, sit and contemplate, rather than dissolve into despair.”

So I offered this book as a companion for this specific time, which I consider probably, along with millions of other people, the most dangerous, frightening, unstable time that the earth has known and that human beings have ever known.

David Swick: But your regular publisher didn’t see it that way?

Alice Walker: No. I think they may not have understood how much nourishment we get from teachers who encourage this kind of awareness. Even when we feel we can’t change things, it’s important to have awareness of what has happened. If you are unaware of what has happened, it means you’re not alive in many respects. And to be unalive in many places within yourself means you are missing a lot of the experience of being on this planet. And this planet is not to be missed.

We Live in the Best of All Times
, David Swick, Shambhala Sun, May 2007.

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