Welcome back, Jeanette. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
If there is one interview question I receive frequently, it is why write about such controversial subjects as the international counternarcotics war, Marxist guerrillas in Latin America, the Islamic fundamentalist threat south of our borders, or the cry of the oppressed in hostile nations. The answer is actually simple. We as writers are told to "write what we know". I write about the world I know, a world well outside of safe American borders. I grew up the daughter of American missionaries in rural areas of
that are now guerrilla hot spots. My own childhood was spent canoeing up and down the jungle rivers, flying in small propeller planes or driving the high mountain passes to boarding school in Colombia Venezuela, hiking up the Andes and into Amazon jungles. After Bible college in yet one more country not my own, Canada, I married another missionary kid, then spent 16 years with my husband as missionaries in Bolivia, one of the world’s top-five most corrupt countries, where I had the dubious privilege of watching from the front-row the development of a 'narco-democracy' which birthed my first adult political-suspense novel, CrossFire.
From there we were called to mission leadership with a ministry that serves in more than fifty countries on five continents. As result, I have now lived in six countries and traveled in more than thirty, including some of the planet’s more difficult corners. If not an average American lifestyle—and certainly not always comfortable or safe—I will say it has proved the best possible for an investigative writer. Those places and people and the spiritual lessons God has taught me along the journey have spilled over to become the themes of my books. If those themes sound more troubling than joyous or peaceful, let me assure you they are not because we have a heavenly Father who loves His children passionately. And whatever the storms raging around us, whether personal, political, economic, fears of terrorism or of war, our ultimate peace and joy lay in understanding that our safety, as well as the safety of our families and our country, are not and never will be in the absence of the storm, but in the presence of a loving Creator who in the midst of any storm cradles His children safely and tenderly in the palm of His Almighty hand. If I did not have that absolute assurance, I would not have the nerve to research, much less write, the stories that I do.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I should say my wedding, but in truth that was a rather frazzled day. I was a missionary kid recently graduated from Bible college in
Canada, having to plan on my own an American wedding--I'd only ever seen one--in , where I'd rarely been. My parents arrived the day before the wedding from Tacoma, WA Colombia where they served as missionaries, my in-laws from . So despite the joy, that day itself is a bit of a blur. Which leaves hands-down as my happiest day December 25, 1982, when I woke up with stomach cramps at 6 AM on a 40-below-zero winter day in Riverton, WY. Two hours later my first-born son Michael made his appearance, the best Christmas gift I've ever received beyond God's gift of a Savior. Montana
How has being published changed your life?
I don't know that it has particularly, since I continue in full-time ministry and missions journalism, while writing the occasional suspense novel for Tyndale House Publishers on the side. Perhaps if there has been one change, it is that publishing mainstream novels has provided the credentials that result in speaking at a lot more writers conferences and workshops, both in North America and in training Christian writers around the world.
What are you reading right now?
Lots of books related to
Africa, particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo, where my current work in progress is set. Fiction-wise, I've been taking full advantage of those free downloads of CBA titles onto my new Christmas Kindle, which has allowed me to get to know many new talented Christian novelists.
What is your current work in progress?
I am currently writing a novel set in the Ituri rainforest of northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, working title Congo Dawn.
What would be your dream vacation?
My husband and I spent one night with a ministry team in a rustic hardwood lodge right on the Indian Ocean in
on our way to dedicate a new conference ministry center in that country. We arrived after dark, so could just barely see the waves crashing against wood pilings below the lodge deck, an ocean glimmering under a thin moon and pale stars. The next morning we left early enough to experience as we drove away the incredible color spectrum of sunrise over that gently rolling blue-green expanse of saltwater. Ever since I've wanted to go back to that site for an actual vacation. Maybe someday! Sri Lanka
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I don't really. They seem to kind of choose me. Seriously, every time I've finished writing about one country (most recently, Afghanistan in Veiled Freedom and Freedom's Stand), God has brought people and circumstances into my life that lead me to a new country, new story-line, and new spiritual theme. Most recently input from some of the planet's most incredible missionary pilots has opened the door to writing my next book in the war-torn Ituri rainforest of northeastern
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
One of my three adult sons, for the reason that all three (like their parents before them) have spread their wings to fly far away from home. One is a Navy medic in
Sicily right now, another heading to Mumbai, India, on a humanitarian project, the third working in western . I can think of no particular famous person currently alive with whom I'd go out of my way to spend an evening (the brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we work in more than 50 countries around the planet are far more interesting, and I always count it a privilege to spend time with them), but I'd drop anything if one of my sons was passing through for an evening. USA
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
None. Which sounds more self-denying (or boring) than reality, because while I truly have no time for other hobbies, much of what I do in my daily life is exactly what I would choose if I did have time. I love traveling to other countries, visiting with and getting to know wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ I meet there, writing articles about their ministry as a missions journalist. I love the incredible variety of human beings with whom I come in contact, their stories, their dreams. I love trying new foods, seeing new places, enjoying new experiences. I love teaching God's Word and Christian writers conferences in different cultures, working with indigenous Christian writers around the planet in developing their gifts. Bottom line, who needs hobbies when you can do what you love and call it work! When I do have absolutely nothing on my schedule, I will admit I can't think of anything better to do than curling up with a good book (or my Kindle these days).
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Read, read, read and write, write, write. It is the saturation of mind and heart with good literature and prose that creates good writers as well as the practice of the craft. Any would-be writer who cannot tell me what they are currently reading or say they don’t care for reading but just want to write are immediately crossed off my list as serious potential writers.
Also, writing is hard work, not just inspiration. It is, in fact, a mind-numbing, hair-pulling, excruciating process of creation to which the birthing of ones own children pales. I always tell want-to-be writers, if you can keep from writing, do! It’s a hard, unforgiving field. If you have to write, whether it’s published or not, then you’re a writer, and like a musician or artist, you can’t be anything but. And it does feel wonderful after all the work of birthing the world and characters and message of a new book to hold it in your hands and see the finished product.
Tell us about the featured book.
Freedom's Stand is the sequel to 2010 Christy Award and 2010 CBA [formerly Gold Medallion] finalist, Veiled Freedom, set in contemporary
. Veiled Freedom brought together on Afghanistan 's dusty streets a disillusioned Special Forces veteran, an idealistic relief worker, and an Afghan refugee, each in their own personal quest for truth and freedom. Returning in Freedom's Stand, they soon discover that in a country where political and religious injustice runs rampant, the cost of either may be higher than they realize. Will any one of them be willing to pay the ultimate price? Kabul
Beyond an engrossing story, Veiled Freedom addressed the critical question of what is true freedom. Can outsiders ever truly purchase freedom for another culture or people? With that in mind, the question Freedom's Stand addresses follows inevitably: once you've found that true freedom, how far will you go in sharing that freedom with others? A far from rhetorical question in the context of
Please give us the first page of the book.
The girl was breathing hard as she climbed steep outdoor stairs, carrying the basin of dirty water in which she’d been scrubbing vegetables. Sliding the basin onto a flat rooftop, she scrambled after it. She was high enough here to see out over the compound’s mud-brick perimeter wall. A narrow river gorge ran between two gently rising mountain ridges. The compound sat halfway up one flank, its crenellated exterior fortification curving out from the mountainside to enclose an area large enough for a buzkashi tournament, the Afghan free-for-all version of polo.
Above the girl on the highest parapet, a teenage sentry squatted, an ancient AK-47 across his thighs. Catching his eyes on her, the girl pulled her headscarf higher across her face. But she did not stoop immediately to complete her task, stepping forward instead to the edge of the roof.
Today’s sun had already dropped behind the opposite mountain ridge, leaving behind a spectacular display of reds and oranges and purples above the sharp geometry of rock formations. Overhead, a rare saker falcon wheeled lazily against the first pale stars. Perched on a boulder across the river, a shepherd boy played a wooden toola flute, the rush of water over stones offering harmony to his plaintive tune. Behind him, a herd of mountain sheep scrambled over terraces where crops would grow when spring runoff overflowed a stream bed winding through the valley floor.
The girl saw little beauty in the scene. The narrow vista of this isolated mountain valley, varied only by white of winter snow and green of summer growth, was no less a prison than the compound walls. Just as the bright red and pink of poppy blooms within the compound enclosure below meant only backbreaking hours of hand-irrigating and weeding.
But today that would be finished. Before nightfall was complete, the compound gates that had slammed her inside—how long had it been? five winters now?—would swing wide. Perhaps her new home would be a town with markets and people and freedom to emerge into the streets. Perhaps there would be womenfolk her own age who would welcome her as sister.
Perhaps there would be books. Oh, to study again!
Will there be love?
Her searching gaze had finally spotted what she’d been seeking. A single track scratched the baked earth of the valley floor, paralleling the river bed. A dust devil moving along it was too large and fast to be the wind. A party of horsemen?
Then a vehicle separated itself from the whirlwind. A single-cab pickup, its bed crowded with human shapes, though still too distant to make out whether they were male or female.
One would certainly be male.
Or new prison warden.
How can readers find you on the Internet?www.jeanettewindle.com
Thank you for another very interesting interview, Jeanette.
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