Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Most Life-Changing Book from 2007

Another great interview from Janna's blog. Be sure to visit the interview on her site to enter the contest to win a copy of the book:

"AS I HAVE LOVED YOU" by NIKKI ARANA!


I wasn't sure what to think when I started this book, but if this tells you anything - I started it in the afternoon and finished it before I went to bed. It is not a mystery/suspense or the kind that leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat. It was such a character study of who we think we are versus who we really are and our perceptions of other people. I bawled like an absolute baby through the last 5 or 6 chapters and then I didn't want it to be over, even though the ending was as perfectly satisfying as it could've been. I can not recommend this book highly enough - it is not every day that you read a book that makes you want to change your ways and be a better person, but this book did. Do yourself and those people around you a favor and go read this book! Now come meet Nikki...

1) Sometimes people think of authors as being bigger than life and not "real", so I thought we would start off with a very important question, one that will show people just how real you are! "What dessert can you not resist when it is time to indulge?"
Hey, you started with the toughest question first. Hmmm. Dessert? I’m going to have to say ice cream! Yep, simple, plain ole ice cream. Always fighting fluffiness, I seldom eat dessert, so when I decide to indulge I usually choose ice cream.

2) I picked "As I Have Loved You" as one of the most life changing books of 2007 because when I finished reading it I wanted to change how I thought and things I do to become a better person. Do you find yourself changing as you write or do your books come out of personal experience and things that have already changed you?
My first book, The Winds of Sonoma, was about how I met my husband. There are scenes in that book that actually happened! So it is a great example of a book coming out of my personal experiences. That is also true of As I Have Loved You. It was inspired by a true story, my oldest son’s first serious relationship.
But more than because of personal experiences, I write because I feel passionately about my subject. Those emotions translate to the page. In As I Have Loved You, it is about the need for us as Christians to love. The Lord has gifted us all in different ways, but the greatest gift of all is to love, even when we are given a reason not to.
You also asked if the things I write about have changed me. I would say that they have affected me deeply enough to write about them. Then as I write I get an even deeper insight into the experience and that helps me glean the truth in it. That truth becomes the internal story. All my books have an internal and external story. Some would say the book of Hosea is a story about a man who married a prostitute, the external story. But it is really about God’s love for Israel. That is the internal story. In As I Have Love You the external story is about a single mother’s struggle with her son and his choice of the “wrong” girl. But it is really a story about the power of God’s love and the unseen consequences of our judging others. One of my favorite internal stories is in the book The Fragrance of Roses, which won the 2007 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year. Part of that internal story is that God answers every prayer, but seldom in the way we expect.

3) You deal with many deep themes in this book, but one that really stuck out to me was the judging of the mother vs. the unconditional love of the son. How did you come to choose this theme as a main point in the book?
As I mentioned above this was inspired by my oldest son’s first serious relationship. And that is what observing him in that situation taught me. In the prologue of that book there is a supernatural event that empowers the boy to love with a love that can change the heart of man. I don’t state it there, but we all know that the only love that can change the heart of man is the love of Christ. I don’t want to give away anything here for those who have not read the book, but there is a scene in it where the girl thinks she being given water by the boy, but it is Jesus who is ministering to her. Those sentences reveal the internal story.
Because the heart of the book came from my own experiences people ask me if I really did the things that mother did. No, but I thought of doing many of them, which in some ways is just as bad. I am happy to say though that I did become close to that girl. She actually lived with us for a time.

4) I read this book in about a 24 hour span because it just really grabbed me, but it was real themes, not suspense that had me on the edge of my seat. What made you choose women's fiction (which you obviously excel at) as your choice of genre when chick-lit, mystery/suspense, and romance are so popular right now? Though in my opinion you have threads of all of those genres in this book, you just weave them together incredibly well...
As an author, you have to write the book you’ve been given. The book begins to show itself as I write it. In a way I guess you could say that my books choose me! But this very issue came up with my first book, The Winds of Sonoma. It is about how I met my husband, but it didn’t follow the formula of a genre romance. So publishers weren’t sure how to categorize it. Technically it was women’s fiction with a strong romance thread. They ended up promoting it as a romance. It won numerous awards. In The Fragrance of Roses the opening chapter has a mysterious boy. So you get that feel of mystery, but it is really women’s fiction. I am currently writing a book about the need for Christians to reach out to the moderate Muslims who live among us. The book opens with an
honor killing. When you have a murder on the first page it suggests suspense or mystery. Though I am choosing to write it with a strong tone of suspense it is still really women’s fiction because it is the heroine’s story. You go on a journey with her.

5) This book is a stand alone but you have another series of books that has been incredibly popular as well, tell us about that.
You are speaking of the Regalo Grande Series. Book one was my debut novel, The Winds of Sonoma. It is a truly beautiful love story. All my books have lots of symbols in them. In that book the wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Every time the wind blows, God is acting in the lives of the characters. The second book in that series is In The Shade of the Jacaranda. In it I use the internal story to express my deeply held belief that God has a plan for every child that is born. The final book of the series is The Fragrance of Roses. It is about a child’s struggle with leukemia. The internal story is that God hears and answers every prayer, though His ways are not our ways and our prayers are often answered in unexpected ways. I also used the story to raise public awareness about the need for more minorities to donate blood to bone marrow registries.

6) What projects can I look forward to reading and considering for my 2008 lists?
As I mentioned, I am currently working on a book titled Fear No Evil. It is about the need for safe houses for Muslims who convert to Christianity. Writing about Muslims is VERY controversial and I hope I can find a publisher for it. It was turned down by two publishers who offered me contracts to write for them if I would write about something else. But I said no. I told my agent I have zero interest in writing about anything but this. I feel God has called me to write this story. American Christians know so little about moderate Muslims. The theme is that God desires that none die lost. That is a story worth telling.
Thank you so much for this chance to share my writing journey with you. For those who would like to continue on the journey, they can sign up for my quarterly newsletter at my website: http://www.nikkiarana.com/. I just sold the movie rights to The Winds of Sonoma and I’ll be reporting on how that unfolds over the coming months. Filming is supposed to start next summer. For those of you that have read my books, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at nikki@nikkiarana.com.

To buy a copy of Nikki's books you can go to amazon to order or you can leave a comment today to win a copy of "As I Have Loved You" - good luck!

4 comments:

ERS said...
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dodo said...

Count me in.

Karen said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi All,

"Leap -- and the net will appear." You have no idea how many times a day I claim that!!

Nikki

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