Who’s Your Hero? Madiba Magic

My good friend Joy Campbell who blogs at The Character Depot, has a new book and an accompanying blogfest!

The release of the novel Saving Sam by J.L. Campbell has been timed to coincide with National Heroes’ Day celebrations in Jamaica. Sam, the protagonist finds a hero—or heroine if you like—in his aunt and the mission of this blogfest is to write a maximum of 300 words about someone who has been a source of inspiration. So, Who’s Your Hero?


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I was privileged to meet the icon, and conducted a short interview with Nelson Mandela, in which I was limited to 3 questions, and this is what he had to say———

Me: You are such a calm and courageous person. How did you achieve this?

Mr. Mandela: Courage is not the absence of fear. It is not innate or a kind of elixir we can drink, or something that can be learned in any conventional way. It's the way we "choose" to be. None of us is born courageous; it is all in how we react to different situations.

Calm is what people look for in tense situations, whether political or personal. They want to see that you are not rattled, that you are weighing all the factors, and that your response is measured.

Me: You are very accepting of everybody, and see the good in people.

Mr. Mandela: It is not that I do not see the dark side of someone; it's that I'm unwilling to see only that. No one is purely good or purely evil. We must learn to look past the negative. No one is born prejudiced or racist. No man is evil at heart. Evil is something instilled in or taught to men by circumstances, their environment, or their upbringing. It is not innate.

We should learn to accept and trust others, take an emotional risk which also includes an accompanying vulnerability. We sometimes take an emotional risk by confiding in others we don't know well. Yet we rarely equate risk with trying to see what is decent, honest, and good in the people in our daily lives.

Me: As a novice writer who has embarked on a never-ending literary journey, what single piece of advice should I keep in mind?

Mr. Mandela: Patience is the key word here. Twenty-seven years in prison teaches you many things, but one of them is to play a long game. As a young man, I was very impatient. I wanted change yesterday. Prison taught me to slow down, and it reinforced a sense that haste often leads to error and misjudgement. Above all, I learned how to postpone gratification – my whole life embodies that.

… I did not meet or get to interview Nelson Mandela… but the information above is taken from a book entitled: Mandela's Way Lessons On Life by Richard Stengel, a man who spent three years travelling everywhere with Mandela, ate with him, watched him campaign, was privy to his innermost thoughts, and came to know all the different sides of this complex man, as he collaborated with the icon on his autobiography.

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About J.L

J.L. Campbell is a proud Jamaican and an award-winning writer, who is always on the lookout for story-making material.
She writes romantic suspense, women's fiction and young adult novels. She is the author of Contraband, Christine's Odyssey, Dissolution, Distraction, Don't Get Mad…Get Even, Giving up the Dream, Kicked to the Kerb, Retribution and Hardware (written under the pen name Jayda McTyson).
Feel free to connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or visit her Amazon author page.














  1. J.L. Campbell on October 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Hey, Michelle,

    Thanks so much for participating. Mr. Mandela is more than a hero. The information you've shared here is what I needed to see today. Too often, we lose faith in people and the ability to see beyond their faults to the good that lies within.

  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh on October 22, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Mandela was a very wise man. Would've been cool if you had met him!

  3. Wendy on October 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Its' so odd Alex that you should refer to him as having passed because we are having such a hard time finding confirmation of this. Do you have a source?

    And yes I have to get this book. It reallyy got me fired up and thank you Michelle for sharing it.

  4. L. Diane Wolfe on October 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Unwilling to see only the dark – those are words we should all live by.

  5. Quanie Miller on October 22, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    haste often leads to error and misjudgement – so true! Definitely words to live by.

  6. Emily R. King on October 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Wonderful Q&A! Very inspiring and creative. Huge congrats to J.L.!

  7. Jemi Fraser on October 22, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    I got chills reading that – Nelson Mandela is such an amazing man – great answers.

    I can't get onto Joy's site for some reason. It's been months since I've been able to get there. Don't know why but it's driving me nuts. I enjoyed JL's first book in this series and I bet this one will be great!

  8. Nick Wilford on October 22, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Lots of wise words there! No one is purely evil – a lesson we should learn when writing villains, I think.

  9. PK Hrezo on October 22, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Wow for a minute there I was thinking you got to ask him those questions yourself! I love his advice and wisdom. Especially about the error in judgment we make in haste. Something we really have to think about as writers. 

    Awesome hero, sistah!

  10. Lexa Cain on October 23, 2013 at 12:58 am

    I was amazed to think you actually got to meet and interview Mandela, but I understand that it was really more of a wish fulfillment on your part. Mandela's Way: Lessons on Life sounds like an incredibel book! I'm so happy you shared some of it with us!  Mandela's way of looking at things is beautiful. 🙂

    Congrats to J.L. on her book release! Wishing her and her book much success!

    • Michelle Wallace on October 24, 2013 at 11:17 am

      Joy, we are all guilty of this and need to be reminded from time to time… with regards to the story, I've met lots of Sam's in my lifetime and I know that your story won't disappoint!

      Alex, what a moment it would be!

      Wendy, seems like we are all in the dark as to what's really going on? Is he or isn't he? It seems very hushed.

      Diane, it has to do with mindset… and a willingness to be open to change…

      Quanie, we live in a world where instant gratification is the buzzword… it's like we want everything to happen quickly… patience seems to belong to another era…

      Emily, thank you for taking some time from your hectic schedule and popping in…

      Jemi, that's strange you cannot access her site… have you tried again?

      Nick, yes, the message has personal as well as writerly value…

      PK, for anybody, it would be a life-changing moment to actually have a one-on-one with him! Imagine it…?

      Lexa, the book is incredible… great lessons for everybody… it doesn't matter who you are…

  11. shell flower on October 23, 2013 at 1:35 am

    I love how you "interviewed" Mandela. JL's book sound's fabulous, too, and sad, but good:)

  12. krystal jane on October 23, 2013 at 2:49 am

    Wow, the book sound really deep. Nelson Mandela is a great hero! I have the poem from Invictus near my computer and I read it all the time. ^_^ 

  13. Donna Hole on October 23, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Yes, those are wise words indeed. And I've a feeling he would have answered your questions exactly so!


  14. Gary on October 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Michelle and J.L.,

    Great stuff.  Mandela is indeed a hero in times when the word hero can be rather overused.  All the best, J.L.  As for blogfests, one moment please, Argggghhhhh!!!!  LOL

    Gary 🙂


  15. Carol Kilgore on October 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Mandela's wisdom and spirit shines through his words.

  16. Elizabeth Seckman on October 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Tricky girl! Here I was all jealous of you for getting that interview. But no matter, that's some excellent advice and he definitely qualifies as a hero!

  17. Julie Flanders on October 23, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    I love his advice about the "long game." Patience is something I really struggle with. But then when you think about the trials Mandela endured it can really put your own issues in perspective. Great choice, it was inspiring just to read this post.

    And congrats to Joy!

  18. Crystal Collier on October 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Ah! I love this! "…it's that I'm unwilling to see only that."

    One of my teenage matras was, "If you don't like someone, you just don't know them well enough." Goodness, what happened to that wise teenager?

  19. Mary on October 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    He is definitely an inspiring person. It would be wonderful to meet him. Great hero, Michelle.

  20. Lynda R. Young on October 24, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Wonderful mini interview. Shame you didn't actually meet him. That would be truly amazing.

  21. Julie K Pick on October 24, 2013 at 7:40 am

    You chose an exceptional hero Michelle! Congrats to Joy on Saving Sam!

  22. Michelle Wallace on October 24, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Shellflower, Joy writes wonderful stories… they are real-life tearjerkers…

    Krystal, the beauty of the book is that it's practical… and simple…

    Donna, I've taken his words directly from the book.

    Gary, spot on!

    Carol, yes, he has a unique spirit…

    Elizabeth, what can I say LOL , were you really jealous? I'm sure I'd feel the same if the tables were turned… but just imagine if it had happened?

    Julie F, I'm blessed with oodles of patience…

    Crystal, that wise teen has blossomed into an even wiser cheese-loving adult…

    Mary P, yes, for sure Mary… for sure…

    Lynda, it would be a pivotal moment…

    Julie  K, he is really special, isn't he?

  23. Jen on October 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Congratulations to JL on her new book release! I admire any author who steps up and speaks out for the hurting and the abused. Mandela is a fantastic hero. I've alwasy admired him and found him inspirational. Great choice!!

  24. J.Q Rose on October 24, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    What an amazing person. Patience is the key word in this interview for me. Slow down and think first. I wish I had just a thimbleful of Mandela's wisdom. I need to get this book! Excellent choice for your hero.

  25. Denise Covey on October 25, 2013 at 4:28 am

    Hi Michelle. Sorry I'm late to your Hero party, but you know how it is. I'm glad I didn't miss this one. So interesting. You had me going there for awhile. I was so jealous you got to meet The Man. But I love the way you turned this into an interview. Great post. I wrote about the Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala, should you want to read it…


    Am trying to visit all the WEP blogfest peeps. Only 3 more to go to reach 30. That would be awesome. So looking forward to everyone's entries. 😀


  26. Rachel Morgan on October 25, 2013 at 4:57 am

    You've chosen a truly amazing hero 🙂

  27. Michelle Wallace on October 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Jen, thanks Jen!

    J.Q., it's a wonderful book!

    Denise, I'm glad you could make it… I'm off to your site now———-

    Rachel, he's one-in-a-million… 🙂

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