Friday, November 30, 2007

My Review and Interview with Jodi Cowles : The Minor Protection Act

This past Summer, I had the honor of meeting and spending time with Jodi while she was on tour with her first novel, The Minor Protection Act. Jodi is a warm, creative person who cares deeply about our country and the Christians within it. In her novel, she explores the idea of “tolerance” or rather “intolerance” taken to its logical conclusion. As a parent who has chosen to home educate my own children, this novel was kind of scary! As I stated in another review, the concepts presented in this novel are only an election results night away from becoming reality! Jodi recognizes that our country is at the crossroads, and she is trumpeting her message in a creative, page-turning way!

Jodi graciously took the time to answer a few questions about her novel, and I would like to share her thoughts with you here. I highly recommend her novel, but please know that it will leave you with many eye-opening thoughts and a desire to be more aware about the things going on within the legal workings of this great country! Be ready to act!! If you want to enjoy a really great blog, check out Jodi's! Where is Jodi

1. Was there a particular incident in the news that spawned the idea for this book? Where did this story begin for you?

Not so much anything to do with the news. I began writing in 1999 after having a dream which was sort of the root of the novel. One of my relatives is a missions professor and told me, years ago, that Christians in China were praying for Christians in America to experience persecution, so I think that had rolled around in my mind for a number of years. And finally, I think I wrote it out of my own personal feeling of being squeezed -- particularly where I was living at the time in Southern California -- that I was being called hateful and intolerant and bigoted everywhere I looked, simply for believing the truths of the Bible.

2. As a single young lady you have a tremendous insight into parenting. What do you see as the greatest threat to today's youth?

Well thank you! It may have helped that I was living with a family of two small boys for a majority of the time I was writing the novel. ;) That's a hard question though. I think my first reaction would be to say the indoctrination kids are receiving in public schools is one of the greatest threats they face. It's hard for a kid to hear things all day long at school from people they perceive as authoritative, then come home and watch a couple hours of TV and hear the same things...then sit down to dinner with their fuddy-duddy parents who are trying to teach them an ideology that's completely opposite.

3. Your journey across the US to market your novel showed you many facets of American culture. Was there one experience/person/incident that really made an impact on you?

Just one? :p Let me glom a bunch together and say that the reception I received from the family of God absolutely astonished me. I realized I'd grown a little cynical about American Christianity over the years, but being welcomed by total strangers into fellowship after was something I'll never forget. It was phenomenal to visit itsy bitsy churches all across America where brothers and sisters were quietly working out their salvation and trying to love one another well.

4. Briefly describe the "why" behind the marketing journey for your novel. (perhaps this should be #3!)

Briefly, that's the trick! :) In brief, the year that the book was published I'd been praying about leaving my corporate job, when suddenly I lost it out of the clear blue sky in a reorganization. I'd also recently returned from leading a mission project to Guatemala where I was blown away by the joy and faith of our brothers and sisters living in poverty. I decided to try to live a bit of an experiment and do something crazy to promote my book in the process. I cashed out my retirement plan and bought an RV, then set out on the road to live by faith and pray sincerely for my daily bread for the first time in my life.

5. Many who read your book might stumble over your choice of the gay lifestyle being the spark that set off your story. What do you say to someone who might have a child struggling with this issue? Have you been confronted by someone who has read your novel who took issue with you over the treatment of this topic?

What I was looking for, plot-wise, was an issue that best illustrated the tolerance debate. I believed at the time, and do so even more now, that homosexuality is an issue that stands above all others in that arena. What I mean is -- I don't set the sin of homosexuality above divorce, or murder, or gossip, or disobeying your parents. All are sins and all make us deserving of an eternity apart from God without the shed blood of Christ atoning for those sins.

That being said, I'm not aware of another sin where those committing it stand up and shout for others to validate their choice in quite the same way. You don't see Gossip Pride Marches or Murderer Pride Marches. It's one thing to individually make a sinful choice and live with the consequences -- we each do that to some degree every day -- but it's quite another to agitate for legislation that says my choice trumps your right to believe what the Bible says and teach that belief to your children.

As I mentioned above in the "greatest threat" question -- I believe children are being indoctrinated in our public school systems. A parent trying to teach pre-marital abstinence is shouted down by the advocates of any type of sex, at any age, in any context, for any reason.

To anyone who has a child struggling with their sexuality -- my gosh, I would grieve with them and offer prayer and the name of a professional counselor. As I said earlier, a sin is a sin, and I'd offer the same prayer and counseling to a parent whose child was struggling with alcoholism or pornography or any kind of sexual addiction.

6. Are you working on another story? What is the main topic and when can we expect to find it available?

I am! Well, in fits and starts anyway. ;) It's sort of a sequel in that some of the same characters carry over. It'll be about the conflict between religion and politics again. I'm also thinking about writing a memoir of my experiences on the road last year. As to when they'll be available...only God knows! :)

7. There is a lot of debate about whether or not Christian Fiction should have an overt or covert message. You are an avid reader of many types of books, so what are your thoughts on this? Should the CBA be significantly different than its secular counterpart, or is there room in the CBA for "edgy" fiction?

Another tough question -- and tough to keep brief. :) I am a HUGE advocate of Christian fiction, and of breaking Christian fiction out of the historical romance genre . Let's look at music for an example. Christian music has always been a genre all its own, but I'd love to see Christian Country, Christian Rap and Christian Inspiration stations on my radio.

I'd love if we had enough wonderful, clean Christian fiction that you could choose what genre you liked best to read in and you'd be able to find any number of authors. It wasn't like that when I was growing up and I'm tickled to see the industry moving in that direction.

However, I think that same growth is why this big overt/covert discussion exists. I'm not sure where I fall on the issue. I've actually been thinking about it quite a bit, I just haven't come to any real conclusions. My inclination is that, like you mentioned, there SHOULD be a big difference between the CBA and its secular counterparts. You should know, without a doubt, that when you pick up a Christian book you won't be subjected to sex or language or the glorification of witchcraft.

On the other hand, I think I'd rather pick up a book that showed a beautiful, meaningful metaphorical picture of salvation and included a little language or troubling evil than one which is just blah and wishy-washy. I've read several of those lately that I picked up at the International Christian Retail Show last summer, and to be honest, they were so dull and uninspiring that I'd rather not have read them.

8. On a lighter note, I'm going to borrow a question from an interview I recently read.....if you had to describe yourself as an ice cream flavor, what would it be and why?

Oh no! This is as bad as the "what kind of animal are you" question! :) I'll pick rainbow sherbet because when I eat it I can never quite decide which is my favorite flavor. I have a couple big passions in my life and I'm always bouncing between them, unable to settle on one.