I picked up Mindspeak after reading an interview with Heather on a different blog. The premise of the book was enticing and the teaser on Amazon sucked me in enough to purchase and read it. You can read my review here. I contacted Heather after I finished her book and asked if she’d visit us and let me pick her brain about some of the things in her book. She said yes, even though I warned her about what I was going to ask her. 🙂 Raise a soda to Heather, and welcome her to the blog!
Thank you so much, Lisa, for having me on your blog! It means so much to me when bloggers and readers ask questions and/or share their reading experience!
My first question is one that I ask everyone who stops by: do you consider yourself a Christian author or an author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is?
I am a Christian. And I am a writer who allows her faith and beliefs to influence her writing, but MINDSPEAK is not Christian fiction.
The difference is simple in my mind: audience. An author of Christian fiction is mostly reaching other Christians. I desire to reach a much broader audience.
The main character in Mindspeak, Lexi, clearly believes in God yet there are some “no-no’s” in your book that would make many Christians cringe: cussing, boy/girl sleeping together (not in the biblical sense). Why the apparent dichotomy?
All readers (and writers) bring to the reading experience a set of beliefs, past experiences, and core principles that influence the way they react to a story. I know writers who only wish to write characters and stories to fit their core beliefs, and that’s okay. For them, anything that goes against those core beliefs is wrong. I am not that writer. I believe we are constantly called to discern between what’s right and wrong according to our own worldview. That’s a good thing. And my writing is going to reflect this.
Take the Harry Potter series, for example. I am a huge fan. But there is murder and hate and cursing in Harry Potter. As a reader and movie enthusiast, I didn’t skip a beat as I enjoyed this adventure, even when Mrs. Weasly called Bellatrix Lestrange a bi$%# then obliterated her. As a Christian, I was able to later, after I heard that the books and movies had caused a ruckus among some conservative Christian circles, to go back and assess whether these books influenced my belief system negatively. These books did not change who I am as a Christian. I found the characters to be believable and true to the fictional story world J.K. Rowling created.
In MINDSPEAK, Lexi Matthews was shuffled off to grow up in a boarding school at the young age of eleven. Choices were made for her. She no longer had parental supervision or influence. What she and her classmates know to be good and right in the world, they’ve taught themselves or picked up from their teachers. In the story, Lexi is seventeen and is faced with betrayal by her father. She must come to grips with who and what she is, and that her father controlled both from before she was born. Once she discovers that she is different and that people want something from her, she must search for real purpose in life. She’s unsure of herself and of a boy who claims to care for her. Lexi, a fictional character who is trying to find her unique purpose in an insecure world, sometimes speaks with a slightly coarser language. I’m okay with it and was very intentional about the use of sh#$ and cr&@—the only two curse words in the book, by the way. I found them to be warranted and true to the seventeen-year-old character that I created. She’s simply trying to find her way in a difficult world and sometimes needed a strong word to express the severity of a situation.
I would hope that all Christians would rejoice that a novel written for the general market features a seventeen-year-old girl who, though she was raised with minimal parental supervision, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke (anything), and doesn’t engage in premarital sex. The worst that she does is utter a few words that mean nothing more than human feces.
My hope is that the youth of today can relate to Lexi in some way. Though today’s teens are not dealing with how Lexi came into this world, far too many are dealing with harsh issues—parents who are split, being raised by a single parent, a grandparent, parents who struggle with alcoholism, and various other problems. Like Lexi, I hope that youth today know that there are people in the world who they can turn to who won’t judge them for uttering a few bad words or making one wrong choice. Or even a dozen bad choices.
Every teen in today’s world (and most adults, for that matter) are searching for purpose. Sometimes they have to lose their way, take a wrong turn before finding the right way. All of us are forced to live in a world where bad things happen, we say things that are less than wholesome and make bad choices. We can’t escape these realities without love and forgiveness. Isn’t that the essence of Christianity?
Who did you have in mind when you wrote Mindspeak?
MINDSPEAK was written for young adults (and adults who enjoy young adult fiction) ages 14 and up. It’s a story with plenty of romance, some pretty interesting science that may or may not exist in today’s world ;), and some paranormal consequences to science reaching into troublesome areas of genetic manipulation. MINDSPEAK creates a safe story world where readers can explore issues like intimacy and discovering one’s place and purpose in the world.
What is one thing you’d like your readers to know?
I want readers to know that the single most important thing to me as a writer is to know I’ve provided lovers of fiction an entertaining experience that forces them to suspend their beliefs for a few hours and consider that just because something shouldn’t exist in the world, doesn’t mean it couldn’t or doesn’t already.
How long will we have to wait to find out what happens to Lexi and Jack?
#2 in the MINDSPEAK series is going to be a fast-paced adventure for Lexi and Jack. Readers should look for an announcement about title and cover this summer (maybe even later this spring — I already know the title 😉 ). And I’m hoping for a late summer, early fall release.
Thanks for stopping by, Heather!
If you want to know more about Heather and her upcoming novels, you can find her on the web at http://heathersunseri.com/.
Do you have a question for Heather? Please let us know if you’d like to be one of two lucky commenters who will win a free copy of Mindspeak. Leave your contact information in a safe format (name at gmail dot com) if I don’t already know how to reach you.