FICTION WITH A MISSION
From the moment I signed the contract with New Hope Publishers for my four-book Extreme Devotion fiction series, I began hearing variations of the same question from potential readers: What’s the genre?
Tough one to answer. I suppose contemporary international fiction sums it up best, since each book is set in a different country and takes place in modern times. But New Hope, which is known for its passion for missions, has opted to call the line “Fiction with a Mission,” and I couldn’t be more pleased with that label.
All four books of the Extreme Devotion series—No Greater Love (set in South Africa in 1989 during the violence and upheaval preceding the overthrow of Apartheid), More than Conquerors (set in Mexico and dealing with the Mayan culture and influence), Red Ink (set in China and loosely based on the true-life story of currently-imprisoned-for-her-faith Li Yin), and People of the Book (set in Saudi Arabia and dealing with the cost of converting from Islam to Christianity) have now released.
The writing and production of this series was an exciting shared adventure, as I partnered with New Hope Publishers in their first fiction launch even while I learned about the unique aspects of writing fiction in international settings. It was also quite a challenge, as I’d never helped launch a first-ever fiction line for a publisher known for their nonfiction. In addition, of the four countries highlighted in the books, I have been to only one—Mexico—but I have never set foot in the area where the Mayan culture is so strong and where much of that book takes place. Can anyone say RESEARCH? Online research, library research, books and videos and movies—and people. My greatest resource for authentic research was connecting with people who either currently lived in the countries where my stories occur or had recently lived there. Though I began the writing of the stories based on much of my online and book research, the majority of personal touches that make readers say, “Wow, it’s like I’m right there!” came about as a result of feedback from those who know the areas and culture firsthand.
And now we are in the midst of the Freedom series, another “fiction with a mission” offering (trilogy) based on the topic of human trafficking. The first book, Deliver Me From Evil, released in September 2011, with the following two books in the series, Special Delivery and The Deliverer, set to release in 2012. Though much of this series takes place right here in the States, as I wanted readers to understand that human trafficking doesn’t just happen in faraway lands, the books will also contain a strong sub-plot set in the Golden Triangle area of Thailand as well as several scenes in Mexico. (Yep, more research!) Even our stand-alone 2011 Christmas book, A Christmas Journey Home, has an international setting, with the story going back and forth between the Baja area of Mexico and the Arizona desert.
As an author of Christian books, this is my way of “going into all the world” to fulfill the Great Commission—and helping my readers do the same. I pray my venture into international fiction will truly prove to be “fiction with a mission” for all who read it—and who may find themselves called to expand their own outreach in response to God’s call on their lives.
A Christmas Journey Home
During Isabella Alcantara’s seventh month of pregnancy, her parents and siblings are murdered in gang- and drug-related violence, simply because their home was targeted by mistake. Isabella knows she was spared only because she now lives in a different location, but she knows too that the same thing could easily happen to her and her husband, Francisco. When her grandfather offers to hire a “coyote” to bring them across the border to America, she agrees. But Francisco and Isabella are abandoned by the coyote and left to die. Francisco then valiantly sacrifices himself to get Isabella to safety. Homeless, nearly penniless, pregnant, and alone, Isabella determines to find a way to honor her promise to her beloved husband.
Living on one of the smaller spreads along the Arizona border, Miriam Nelson becomes furious with God and turns from her faith when her
border patrol agent husband, David, is killed in a skirmish with drug smugglers. Though her mother and young son do their best to woo her back from the anger and bitterness that have overtaken her, they make little headway.
Two widows—one driven by fear and a promise, the other by bitterness and revenge—must make their journeys along different pathways, but with the same destination: a barn full of animals that stands waiting for them on Christmas Eve. Forced to face their personal demons, Isabella and Miriam soon discover a common yearning that will bind them together in a most miraculous way.