Angie is a great author and friend with a fantastic new novel. Not only does it have a DRAGON in it, but it’s a cool new world to hang out in. And there’s some romance too–just enough to keep things interesting. The book cover does a great job of capturing the tone of the book and its subject is appropriate to this day and age where our Christian brothers and sisters are facing persecution. The great thing is, in both instances, there is hope. 🙂
Anyway, help me welcome Angie as she tells us about her writing. And stay tuned to the end for a chance to win an e-copy of the book.
Hi Angie! Thanks for joining us today. The first question I always ask is this: do you consider yourself a Christian author or author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is?
AB: I consider myself a Christian author, because above all things, I am a Christian. As to the difference, I believe anyone can write Christian fiction for various purposes, such as targeting a certain audience for sales or even to present Christianity as a fantasy.
What was your inspiration for writing Of the Persecuted? Did you start with a setting, or a character, or a theme?
AB: My inspiration for Of the Persecuted was three-fold. First, as a child, a reading of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis opened my eyes to God, and inspired a desire to write. But I chose not to follow that path for too many reasons to explain in one interview.
Second, in January 2012, my assistant and I exchanged late Christmas gifts. During the exchange, we discussed the various challenges of our jobs and the “what ifs” of other possible employment endeavors. Cue the violin, right? I mean, a lot of people face stressful situations in the workplace on a daily basis. As we talked, my assistant said, “The longer I work with you, the more I imagine you as an author.” My jaw dropped, for I’d NEVER shared my deepest dream with her, or anyone else for that matter. I squeezed the lovely gift in my hands. She smiled and glanced at the journal. “Whenever you’re ready,” she said as she walked out of my office. For the next three months, I prayed.
Third, an image of a teenage girl awaiting death by hanging surfaced repeatedly as I sought God’s guidance. A torrent of fright, insecurity, anger, and determination filled her eyes. And Laila Pennedy was born. So, a character was the final component of my inspiration. Once I understood her, the setting and theme fell in place.
Sounds like you were meant to be a writer. 🙂 One of the things I liked best about your book was the story world you created. How long did it take you to put it together? How much did you have before you started writing and how much came to you as you went along?
AB: Well, I’m a pantser not a plotter. As I wrote Laila’s story, which took seven months of late night writing, the world fell in place around her. From one scene to the next, her emotions—insecurity, fear, anger, curiosity, disbelief—compelled me to imagine the world from her perspective. Though, as I wrote, I did keep story world notes to ensure consistency from beginning to end.
When I first read your book, it had a different title and cover. I like both the title and cover much better now. Especially the cover, because it is very compelling. Tell us about the process of designing the new cover. How much say did you have into the concept and final product?
AB: Thanks Lisa. At the last minute, I chose to make many changes to the release of my debut novel, including a transition from a traditional to an indie publishing route—all prayer led, of course. I was never crazy about the original title, Never Let Go, but also couldn’t think of a better alternative. The original cover belonged to the traditional publisher. When I made the switch to indie publishing, the new title, Of the Persecuted, pretty much just slapped me in the face one evening, and then I stumbled upon—okay, God led me to—an amazing cover designer, Christa Holland at Paper & Sage Design. And by amazing, I mean AMAZING. I told her I imagined a close-up of a girl (not a full face) with a noose around her neck. She imagined something more abstract, a design that allowed readers to look at the scene with the main character rather than readers just looking at her. She read selected portions of the story and created the cover. As soon as I saw the design, I fell in love with it.
It is a fantastic design. Now, can you tell us something about Of the Persecuted that you know but isn’t in the book? Perhaps something about the dragons?
AB: Oh, yes. I love to drop hints about upcoming storylines. In Of the Persecuted, Gus is thought to be the only living dragon, or at least the only dragon seen in many years, and the only dragon to ever work on behalf of the Maker. In Legends of the Woodlands: Book Two, Of the Coldblooded, an army of dragons exists. Whether they fight for the Faithful or the Clan, well, I’ll keep that to myself for now.
What are you working on now?
AB: I’m working on Of the Coldblooded, and am halfway finished with the first draft. The story picks up with a blissful, over-confident Laila. But circumstances force her to embrace darkness. I expect to release the novel at beginning to mid-2015.
And before you go, what is one thing you’d like your readers to know?
AB: I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all?
Yes, yes we are. 😀
And now, an excerpt.
Laila Pennedy’s heart pounded.
The noose pinched her neck. She struggled for breath. Muffled voices drifted from the crowd up to the gallows. To her left, a long line of captives trembled. And right, past her brother, more than fifty Faithfuls hung limp, swaying above the platform. She stood on a large wooden barrel in the middle of the line. Too many would die today.
Beyond the mass of enemies, archers congregated amidst scattered stone cottages and log homes in the quaint village. Dilapidated, individual gallows dotted the hillside. Farther in the distance, the morning sun shone on the peaks of the Willow Mountains, her refuge since Faithfuls lost the War of Submission. Oh, what she wouldn’t give to be in the coolness of the upper forest, in exile with other Faithfuls. Safe from the enemy.
If only…. Instead, rivulets of sweat trickled down her thighs inside wool leggings, into knee-high leather boots. Her sleeveless, broadcloth dress clung to her skin, the once beautiful cloth ragged and cinched at her waist by a dingy belt. Her long, matted blonde hair stuck to her face and neck. So much for the gorgeous locks her mother once adored.
“Laila,” her older brother said, his raspy voice tugging at her heart as he too awaited death.
She forced herself to look into Niles’s tear-filled, deep green eyes and shuddered at the noose around his neck. If only she could reach out to him one last time, but her arms were bound behind her back. Soreness strained her shoulders. Her raw wrists stung under the taut rope, which had ripped open her skin.
“I’m sorry, Sissy,” Niles mouthed.
Sorry? She shook her head. No, this was her fault.
I bet you can’t wait to read what happens next. I know but I’m not telling. :p
SO TELL US, HAS SOMEONE EVER TOLD YOU THAT THEY COULD SEE YOU IN A DIFFERENT TYPE OF JOB? IF SO, WHAT?
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