In May 1973, Assata Olugbala Shakur was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in which she was accused of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and assaulting Trooper James Harper. This resulted in her indictment of first-degree murder of Foerster and seven other felonies related to the shootout. A member of the Black Panther Party, she became a prime target of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Counterintelligence Program. When she joined the Black Liberation Army and went into hiding, between 1973 and 1977, she was placed on the FBI's Most Wanted List for three bank robberies, the kidnapping and murder of two drug dealers, and the attempted murder of two New Jersey police officers.
In March 1977 Assata Shakur was convicted of murdering state trooper Werner Forrester and was imprisoned. Two years later she broke out of the maximum-security wing of Clinton Correctional Facility in New Jersey, pistol in hand, as she and three cohorts sped out of the prison grounds. In 1984 she was granted political asylum in Cuba where she has lived ever since. On May 2, 2013, the FBI added her to the Most Wanted Terrorist List, the first woman to be listed. Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave is the story of Assata Shakur, before she became a fugitive and since.
Do you have another profession besides writing?
I started out as Director of Public Relations and Vice President for Development at a liberal arts college in North Carolina. It was during this time that I started writing books for middle-grade readers and did freelance book editing. Eventually I started writing full time, continued editorial work, and opened my literary agency in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and Canada. In 2014 I was invited to become a partner with Strategic Media Books, an independent publisher of cutting-edge true crime books. I also do consulting work for other publishers, but writing remains my passion.
How long have you been writing?
My first book, a middle-grade novel, was published in 1992. At that time, I was given a contract for my second middle-grade novel, which came out a year later. Since then, I have had nine award-winning novels published, seven of which are written for adults and two for young adults.
What is your next project?
Two books in The F.I.G. Mystery Series have been published (The Cadence of Gypsies and The Wish Rider). A third book in the series is in development. I have one more book I want to write that will complete that series. In The Cadence of Gypsies I introduce three orphaned teenage girls, all three from different parts of the country who wind up at the same orphanage in North Carolina. What is unusual about these three mischief-makers is that each girl has an IQ in the genius range and has a special and unexplained talent which she was born with. These three orphans, the FIGs as they are called, are remarkably odd, to say the least, and it is through the love and guidance of a young teacher who has been given the responsibility of “keeping them on a short leash” that they are able to develop and become accepted in society. Along the way each FIG tries to uncover her own identity and learn why she was orphaned. The mysteries they become involved in are somewhat terrifying, yet so important to their mission of self-discovery.
What genre do you write and why?
Two years ago I would have said fiction for adults and young adults. But these past two years I have branched out into adult nonfiction – Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly and Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave. Each presents its own challenges and rewards, and I enjoy writing in both genres. In fact, my book about Kathryn Kelly has been optioned for a major film and TV series.
Stacey, thank you for interviewing me and for your interest in my writing. My very best to you and to your bloggers.
Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her previous nonfiction true crime work, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant for independent publishers and writers, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.
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