Saturday, June 23, 2007

Nikki Arana - As I Have Loved You

We're talking to my friend Nikki Arana again. She has a new book release. And today, she's even color coordinated with the cover. Way to go, Nikki.

I just love your books. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

All of my books deal with social, political, and spiritual issues that we as Christians face today. My first book, The Winds of Sonoma, touched on illegal immigration. My second book, In the Shade of the Jacaranda, dealt with abortion. My third book, The Fragrance of Roses, dealt with the need to have more minorities donating to bone marrow registries. My newest release, As I Have Loved You, is about a single mom whose college age son gets mixed up with the wrong girl. The situation is complicated because the son has Attention Deficit Disorder. I write about issues to raise public awareness. My next book will be about the need for Christians to minister to Muslims.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

That would be the day I married Antonio. He is the perfect husband. We just celebrated our 31st anniversary, and he still treats me like we’re dating.

I know what you mean. James and I will celebrate 43 years together this year. How has being published changed your life?

Writing under contract has changed my life dramatically. In my other life, I was a very successful real estate broker. I worked eighty hours a week and received incredible financial rewards. I have had to let my real estate career go to give my writing the time that’s required to feel that I’ve given God my best effort. The spiritual rewards have been awesome. I know the Lord in a much deeper way than I did when I was running my life. I tell people I used to get up in the morning and ask God to come with me. Now I get up and tell the Lord I want to go with him. It is a totally different life.

What are you reading right now?

I read a lot of non-fiction. Right now I’m reading two books by Watchman Nee and lots of books about Muslims as I research my next book.

What is your current work in progress?

I am working on two books. A novel, Fear No Evil, about the need for safe houses for Muslim Background Believers. When a Muslim converts to Christianity it can cost them their lives. Christians need to reach out to those new believers and offer support spiritually, emotionally, and financially. My other book is non-fiction, Through the Eyes of Christ, Loving Muslims into the Kingdom of God. I am writing it with the Center for Ministry to Muslims. It informs the average/lay Christian how to reach out and evangelize the moderate Muslims living among us. It explains their culture and traditions and how to approach them in a non-confrontational way.

What would be your dream vacation?

My dream vacation would to be on an island alone with my husband for two weeks. The island would have beautiful trees and flowers. And vegetation that provided our food. The ocean surrounding us would be turquoise and so clear that you could see far beneath and watch the sea creatures. There wouldn’t be anything man-made except matches to light a fire, and a guitar so Antonio could play for me. That would be heaven on earth.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

My novels are character driven, and I am a minimalist. I rarely describe my characters and the setting does not play an important part in my stories. I nearly always use a fictitious town in California or northern Idaho for my settings because those are the areas that I am most familiar with.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

In 2000 Dateline did a segment on a man named Robert Bogucki who rode his bicycle into the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. He wanted to learn whatever he needed to learn. So he went into the desert alone, with little food or water, and depended on God to preserve his life. He wandered for over a month without food or water and near death, but he encountered God. He was found exactly 40 days from the day that his food ran out. I would love to visit with him about his journey and what he learned. In the Dateline segment, he revealed very little of the spiritual revelations he received. The only thing he said directly was, “I had a few feelings of how much love God has for people. It was just incredible.” I attempted to contact him and actually talked to a friend of his and asked if I could interview him. But he never contacted me. This isn’t the kind of thing you pursue. If it is meant to be, it will happen.

I guess I missed that segment. I hope he contacts you. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I don’t really have hobbies but I have varied interests. Currently I am very focused on studying the Jewish culture and lifestyle as it was when Jesus lived. I study the Bible with a Messianic Rabbi, as it was written, in Aramaic and Hebrew word pictures. It provides a deeper understanding of many verses. I’m also studying Hebrew and Davidic dance.

I used to do a lot of Jewish dancing. It's a lot of fun and connects us with our Jewish heritage. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Like many authors, sitting down and doing it can be a struggle. Also, getting the answers I need to make my books authentic can be frustrating. You have to depend on people you don’t know and who have no reason to help you except out of the goodness of their hearts. I have been extremely fortunate so far. God has provided me with just the person I need just when I need them for each of my novels.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Write the book God has given you. You have to write a book to learn to write a book so just get your words on paper and complete the manuscript. Then watch what God is doing and respond to it. He will open doors and shut them too. One of the biggest mistakes emerging writers make is sending their book out before it’s ready.

Nikki, tell us about the featured book.

The featured book is As I Have Loved You. Here’s the blurb.

Leigh Scott is a single mom who just wants the best for her only son, Jeff: a college degree and a good job. But when he starts seeing Jessica, a young woman with a troubled past and a questionable future, Leigh envisions all her best-laid plans going up in smoke. As Jeff spends more and more time with Jessica, Leigh sees her fears realized in Jeff’s dropping grades and bad choices. To top it off, Leigh finds her relationships with her parents, her brother, and a long-lost old flame getting more complicated. Will Leigh get through to her son in time? Or is there more to Jessica than meets the eye? This many-layered, emotional family saga will captivate readers as it shows them the peril of judgment, the need for forgiveness, and the gift of love.

Thank you for spending this time with us , Nikki. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Visit me at . And if you sign my guestbook between now and July 1 you’ll have a chance to win a free copy of the featured book!

Well, Readers, that's two chances to win a copy of the featured book. You could win one by leaving a comment on this interview.

Also check out the other open interviews with Annette Smith and Seye Oke.


lollipops said...

Great interview! I love how you individualize the questions, Lena. Great advice, Nikki! I loved seeing what you looked like and learning more about you. I love your books and can't wait to read the one you're working on!

Anonymous said...

Hi "Lollipops"
So glad you have enjoyed my books. This one, like Winds of Sonoma, was also inspired by a true story!!
Drop me a note after you've read it. I'd love to hear from you. Also, if you go to my website you can see what the real Antonio looks like.

Cathi Hassan said...

All of your books sound really interesting to me. And so relevant for people today. As I Have Loved You is one I will have to read soon. Your books that are soon to come, dealing with Muslims and Christians who converted from Islam really caught my attention, as I have been closely involved with quite a few Muslims.

A very good interview.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathi,
I feel God has put a call on my life to minister to Muslims and to educate the body of Christ about them. There are many moderate Muslims living in the US that view the radical Islamists much as we do. There is an opportunity now, as never before, to reach out to them and share the Good News. But most Christians don't have any idea how to cultivate a relationship with them. I'm writing a non-fiction book, Through the Eyes of Christ, Loving Muslims into the Kingdom of God to give people a handbook. I'm also writing a novel, Fear No Evil, that highlights the need for safe houses for those who do convert.


Norma said...

I look forward to reading some of Nikki's work including this book.

Kathleen Morphy said...

Please, sign me up for this drawing. I'm thinking of a particular friend who'd enjoy reading this and has a birthday coming up soon. Hmm. I wonder what she'll be getting. :^)

ChristyJan said...

Wonderful interview.

I'd love to read this book about forgiveness and love.

Judy G said...

I've heard wonderful things about your book, Nikki. Great interview, Lena. Please enter my name in the drawing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Judy,
I hope you like it. I'd love to hear from you after you read it.

tetewa said...

Good interview, would like to be entered in the drawing.