Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A View From Wanda Dyson's Window!

Wanda Dyson has made a spectacular debut in the suspense/thriller genre with her latest release, Shepherd's Fall! As all my blogging buddies know, I'm a huge fan of this genre, and Wanda's name was new on my list.

So, it is with great pleasure that I welcome Wanda to my Window! I think you will be blessed, just as I was, when you read her thoughts on her family and her fiction!

Grace is not a concept that Nick Shepherd knows much about when we begin Shepherd’s Fall. He has allowed his job as a bounty hunter to rob him of everything and everyone that matters in his life. How common do you think it is for workaholics like Nick to become lost in their own pursuits and find themselves wondering where God has gone when things get ugly?

As a workaholic myself, I think it’s very common. Especially for us “first-borns” that tend to take on responsibility that isn’t really ours. Life can quickly spin out of control and we’re standing around bewildered, wondering where God is and why he allowed it to happen. The smart ones among us finally figure out that our Loving Father is right there, trying to get us to let go and let Him.

Why does it seem that God sometimes has to allow extreme circumstances into our lives to draw us back to Him?

For many of us, warnings don’t do a bit of good. He has to pull the rug out from under us to get our attention. We may be hard-headed, we may be just “too busy” to listen. Or we just don’t want to listen. But the Father loves us too much to leave us in our mess.

It seems that the sibling relationships in this story – Nick, Steven and Marti Shepherd – are very special to you. I noticed that the novel is dedicated to all of your own siblings, as well as to someone dear to you who left for heaven much earlier than expected. Can you tell us a bit about that dedication and why your own siblings are so dear to you?

The memorial dedication is for my nephew, Daniel. He had just turned 18 and off to Pensacola Christian College when he collapse and was diagnosed with cancer. He died a mere three weeks later. Daniel loved God with all his heart---spending hours every day in worship and prayer. I can’t even tell you how many young people he brought to the Lord over the years. His death rocked our family to the core, but one scripture held us together – “the days of a man are numbered by God.” Daniel lived exactly how long God ordained for him to live, even if it wasn’t nearly long enough for us. The morning of his funeral I realized that Shepherd’s Fall was about to go to press so I called quickly and asked if it was too late to dedicate the book to Daniel, the little Shepherd in our family.

It had always been my intention to dedicate the book to my siblings because we were all prodigals - - lost deep in the world, some caught up in drugs, others in gambling, others in alcohol, but sinners all. And one by one, the Lord brought us home until all six of us had become children of God, along with the spouses. We’re spread out all up and down the east coast, and we don’t hide the fact that we can fight like cats and dogs, but when trouble hits, no one hesitates to pack up and come running. And isn’t that what family is all about?

What kind of research was required to enable you to write so convincingly about bounty hunters, police officers and federal agents? Do you have some background or special interest in this area, or did you have to learn things from the ground up?

I was studying law enforcement for my first suspense series, so that was already there, but bounty-hunting was a new field for me. I bought books written by bounty hunters about bounty hunting, I called a school that teaches and licenses bounty hunters and got a copy of their textbook and workbook and studied that, and then I went around to some bail bond companies and talked to them. That led to actually sitting down with a bounty hunter and having him fill in the gaps.

The parent-child relationship also figures prominently in your story. Nick’s unfulfilled relationship with his dad, his broken relationship with his daughter…all of these relationships serve as an almost deadly force in Nick’s life. How strongly do you feel a believer’s relationship with our Heavenly Father is affected by their relationship with their earthly parents? How does one go about releasing those broken relationships back to God and building a whole relationship with Christ?

I think our relationship with our parents figures very strongly into our relationship with the Father. If you’ve always seen your parents as loving and supportive, it’s easy to see the Lord that way, but if you’ve been abuses and rejected, it’s hard to accept the Father’s love and grace. It takes time waling with the Lord to heal those rounds, but eh Father knows what each of us needs to heal and what we need in order to embrace Him the way He wants us to. He’ll put everything we need in us to break down those walls of distrust. We just have to be willing to let Him prune our hearts and re-shape our lives.

How many books are planned for the Prodigal Recovery series? Will each book feature a different sibling?

There are three books in the series. The first book is Nick’s story. The second book is Steven’s story. Steven has been working at Prodigal with his brother but his heart hasn’t really been in it. In Shepherd’s Run, Steven will be forced to face life, death, love, and the fact that he’s been running from the truth for too long. And the final book will be Marti’s story. Marti has been off living a life she won’t talk about with her brothers and carrying secrets she can’t share. But in Shepherd’s Quest, Marti will have to share her secrets with her brothers and trust them – and God – with the most important thing in her life.

What exciting things is God doing in your life right now? Any words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

Right now, the Lord is just really pulling the family closer together. Daniel’s unexpected death was a wakeup call to all of us about what’s really important in life. It’s been especially hard for me since I get into my writing cave and you have to pull me out with a crowbar and a stick of dynamite, but so far I’ve made the effort to get out and attend one nephew’s baseball game and another nephew’s graduation party. Time with the ones we love is so fleeting and so precious – especially the children who are growing up so fast. We need to push everything aside and just grab a lawn-chair and enjoy those moments. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a really good book with us for those other moments…

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