The Inside Scoop!
and her Biblical novel
Counted with the Stars
I grew up in… Spokane, Washington. And no, that’s not the rainy side of the state, but it is certainly very different from Texas! I miss the mountains and the soft green (fire-ant-free) grass, but I love the people in my adopted home-state.
I was inspired to write my first published novel by… my own personal Bible study in Exodus. I noticed that in Exodus 12:38 it said “a mixed multitude also went up with them” and I was intrigued about who these people were and why they chose to leave Egypt, and all their gods, behind to follow Moses.
The books that have most influenced my life are… Gone with the Wind, for inspiring a love of historical fiction, Jane Eyre, for inspiring a appreciation for masterful prose, the Narnia Series, particularly The Magician’s Nephew, for inspiring my imagination and giving me a deeper understanding of my Creator, and Anne of Green Gables for inspiring me to be a writer when I grew up.
My biggest challenge when writing is… procrastination (because, well, I am a writer) and perfectionism (because it’s hard to let art go without tweaking it to death).
One of my favourite authors is… Liz Curtis Higgs. I love all of Liz’s books, but her Scottish Series, which retells Bible stories set in historical Scotland, is so masterfully written and researched that I am in awe of her. They also gave me inspiration to look at familiar Bible stories with a different set of eyes.
If I wasn’t a writer, I would be… I have no answer to that. I can’t imagine not being a writer, I’ve come to realize that it’s been in my blood since I was a little girl. If I wasn’t a writer I would be a stay-at-home-mama, which is what I am anyhow, and I am so grateful to have that privilege.
The superhero talent I would love to have is… flying. I am optimistically holding the verse “they shall mount up with wings as eagles” Isaiah 40:31 as a literal promise in the kingdom to come, because I would like nothing more than to soar above the earth unfettered.
A Story of Love, Desperation, and Hope During a Great Biblical Epoch
Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.
To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?
My latest novel can be described by these 5 adjectives… thought-provoking, compelling, faith-building, unique, fresh point of view. (I’ll admit, I cheated and asked my launch team to give me ideas!)
My main character is… a wealthy Egyptian girl who is sold into slavery by her father to satisfy his debts. She has sleek black hair and honey-gold eyes like the mother she adores. She holds fast to her worship of Egypt’s many gods until she meets a Hebrew girl named Shira who challenges everything she’s ever known. Kiya wants nothing more than to be free and to protect her mother and disabled brother from the terrifying plagues striking her country.
My main characters resemble… I have a hard time tying my characters to actors or actresses because it tends to affect their personalities in my imagination but Kiya resembles Tara Emad, a striking Egyptian model and Eben, my hero, is fashioned after an Israeli model named Nir Lavi.
A previously unknown fact about this novel is… that I wrote it mostly during naptimes when my kids were tiny and in the middle of the night, since I am a night owl.
My story’s spiritual theme is… two-fold. Kiya learns to embrace surrender to the God who loves her and freed her from slavery, and also learns to embrace her new identity as one of the “stars” of Abraham’s promise in Genesis 15:5. Both of these lessons are important for anyone who follows the Messiah.
While writing this novel I was challenged… to dig deeper into my own identity as a daughter of the One True King. Researching and writing the Out from Egypt series has taught me more about the Bible, my God, and myself than I ever expected.
The title was chosen by… me! I spent long hours arranging and re-arranging words on a piece of scratch paper. The book started out being called The Way in the Desert but one day Counted with the Stars came together on my scratch-page and I felt it encapsulated Kiya’s journey to becoming a part of the new nation of Israel so well. Besides, I just love the imagery!
As an author, the hardest scenes for me to write are… when someone dies. Because many times I become very attached to characters and when I have to kill one of them I stall for a very long time before writing the scene. There is a particular one in Counted with the Stars that was literally painful to put on the page and I surprised myself by crying as I did so.
The story I’m currently working on… is not yet a real story! I am brainstorming/plotting what comes next since I have just finished Wings of the Wind, the third book in the Out from Egypt Series—which is the story of a Canaanite woman who dresses as a man to head into battle against the Hebrews in vengeance for the deaths of her family as they begin their entrance into the Promised Land, after forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Alanah was a fun character to write and as different as night-and-day from Kiya and Shira. She’s fierce, and a great match for Tobiah, the Hebrew warrior who finds her on the battlefield!
You may not know this about me, but I… write in my closet. The only office in our house has no doors, and I was desperate for a door to close so I could write in silence, so I dragged a desk, a comfy chair, and all my books in and shut the door! Now if only my closet had a lock…because inevitably the kids, the husband, and the cats find me there.
If I could be a character in any novel, I would want to be… Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) because her wonder at even the most mundane of things inspired me to look at the world with fresh eyes, even as a young girl. And who wouldn’t want a grander “scope for the imagination”?