By Grace Arneberg:

In honor of Black History Month, the University of Wisconsin­–Stout will be featuring author JoAnn Fastoff as a guest speaker on Feb. 19 from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. She will be speaking about black male role models in film and print, as well as giving an insider’s view of the publishing industry.

“This event would be valuable for those students who aspire to become published authors or have an interest in exploring topics around diversity and multiculturalism,” said Sir Aaron Mason, the advisor for UW­–Stout’s Black Student Union.

Fastoff is a Chicago native who has written four novels including “THE LIE”, a fiction novel about victims of the illicit diamond industry that received the 2013 Excellence in Literature Award from the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago.

“We as American consumers are sometimes painfully blind to the consequences of our consumption,” said Fastoff. “Diamonds dug from the fertile earth with the small, thin fingers of 7 to 12-year-old African children just to feed our symbols of tangible love is disappointing to me as a human being.”

Fastoff inserts real world problems into the plots of her novels as a “closet activist.”

“If I can make even a few people think about where that diamond comes from and the cost that it imposes on human lives, then I have succeeded with the message of hope,” she said.

Fastoff has touched on subjects ranging from music to sports and history for Chicago, New York and Philadelphia publications. She has also written one-act plays that have been performed in Chicago and New York.

“What you write and the characters you create have life beyond the pages of your book, which is why I have positive role models in my books,” said Fastoff. “Your characters can become models for how people live their lives.”

For those who dream to write, Fastoff says, “Don’t cave in. Don’t bow to the naysayers that say you can’t do it. Persevere. Only persistence will win out. Oh, and don’t forget to have a good story.”

Those who attend the event will receive a complimentary autographed book while supplies last.


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