Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A View from Heather James' Window - Unholy Hunger

It is my great pleasure to welcome Heather James to my blog to discuss her debut release of Unholy Hunger. The truth she explores in her story is a truth each of us as believers must reach at some point in our faith walk.  Indeed, yeilding to God's holiness and justice is something that will eventually bring each of us to the end of ourselves.

When I sat down to read Unholy Hunger, I did so with certain expectations built around the synopsis.  What I discoverd within the pages of this novel were truths that caused me to take a look at my own life in the mirror of God's love and mercy and cry, "Holy!"  This is a fantastic story and one that I feel will impact many lives for the Kingdom!

Please give a warm welcome to Heather James!

Where was the idea of Unholy Hunger born in your life? 
It originally came from a nightmare I had several years ago, concerning one of my own children. To say the dream shook me to my core is an understatement. I never saw the world the same way again. In the months after, I’d find myself walking up to mothers in the park who had their backs to their kids or who were playing on their phones with their heads tucked down, feeling this overwhelming urge to tell them about my nightmare so they’d pay more attention to their children. On occasion, I did, but when I realized I could “tell” my nightmare to more people by writing it down, that’s exactly the direction I went.

As a lawyer, writing has held a prominent place in your life for quite some time! Tell us a bit about you’re your journey into publishing fiction. 
The truth of it is I’ve wanted to be a writer longer than I’ve wanted to be a lawyer. My father is an attorney and that’s where the lawyer idea came from . . . wanting to be like Dad. But, the Heather-only dream has always been writing. When I told my dad that back in high school, he not so subtly explained to me the meaning behind the axiom, “starving artist.” Off to law school I went.

Eventually, I’d like to be in a place where my writing supports me financially, but in the meantime, law isn’t too shabby of a day job. Once I settled into a legal career, though, the inner call to become an author pressed heavy upon me. I started writing manuscripts, but that didn’t go anywhere.   

My mother was the one who told me to begin small and gain momentum. That’s when I started contributing, for free, to my local paper and local magazines. When my pieces gained some popularity, the paper hired me as a columnist. I took that publishing opportunity and used it as leverage to get the attention of a literary agent. Between the columnist position and my fourth attempt at a manuscript (Unholy Hunger) I found an agent through a writer’s conference, and he found me a publisher.

Lure of the Serpent is the title of the series in which Unholy Hunger debuts.  Will this entire series explore areas of temptation similar to those explored in Unholy Hunger? 
Great question. I’m going to leave the pedophile topic alone in the next two books, but will delve into other “underbelly of evil” categories. The Lure of the Serpent angle runs through all three books inasmuch as each story deals with evil canvassing the world, eager and seeking to lure many of us to do its bidding.

In the second book, you’ll meet an evil man who has given himself over to the lie that all women are bad, simply because his own mother was to him. In the third book, you’ll meet an entire underground group who seek to destroy others simply because they feel cast-off from society.

Why do you feel this is an important message for you to share with others through fiction? 
Another great question! In terms of the pedophile storyline, I feel it is gravely important for parents to be aware that there are people out there who want to hurt their kids, and thus, should be extra vigilante when it comes to their kids. Sure, it’s easier to let your kid walk to their friend’s house rather than get in the car and drive them, and yes, your kids may very well know not to talk to strangers, but what if it’s someone they know? What if they’re out-muscled by their attacker? What if they have a moment of weakness and do what they’re not supposed to do? I’m not saying attach the kid to your hip, but to the best of your ability, keep an eye on them or set up the appropriate safeguards around them.

Then, in terms of the entire series message, Lure of the Serpent, I want people to know they have an enemy out there who’s real, sneaky, and hungry for ruined lives. And instead of just preaching the message, I believe its expression through fiction is a great tool because humans seem to be hard-wired for tales and for being entertained. If you tell someone a message for the sake of relaying the message alone, you might capture their attention. If you tell someone a message through a story, you’ll not only capture their attention, you’ll capture their heart as well.

What was the most difficult scene for you to write? (I imagine there weren’t many “easy” scenes!) When she lets go. By that point in the story, I felt so connected to Evelyn that my mind said, “Well, you have to make her a better person, you have to get her to grow,” but my heart said, “No! Forget that! She deserves to be mad and hateful and filled with revenge!” Allowing her to let go meant I had to let go first. It was weird. I never anticipated it’d be so hard for me since it’s only fiction, after all. I cried like a big old baby through that whole chapter. I still do.

What part of Evelyn’s story impact your heart the most? Why? 
Ooh, this entails me to go deep! I think the part that proved challenging for me personally was writing these tragic, emotionally charged, and sad scenes of how Evelyn felt, and then getting up from my computer, playing with my own kids, making them dinner, or reading them bedtime stories as if I didn’t have a care in the world. And when I went back to Evelyn the next day, picking up where I had left off, it really impressed upon me that grief doesn’t sleep, doesn’t rest, and very likely doesn’t read bedtime stories. It affected me in the form of being truly empathetic for all the mothers in the world who have lost their children, and I don’t think I’ll be able to gloss over someone’s pain ever again. Unholy Hunger is pure fiction, but I know a part of me will forever feel an intimacy with grief because I crafted Evelyn’s story.

What are you currently working on?  Can you give your readers’ a peek behind the scenes?
I just finished book two and have started book three. I can’t give too much information about them because some details would contain spoilers for the end of Unholy Hunger. I will say that the entire series follows Evelyn through the next stages of her life, stages where she’s moving past her grief over losing her daughter. In that regard, the next two books won’t be as sad, and readers will be able to see some lighter sides of Evelyn since she won’t be so bent on revenge.

What words of encouragement would you like to leave with your readers? 
Hmmm, you are chalked full of interesting questions. J I would like to remind others to stay encouraged! When hope dies, discontent festers, and when discontent festers, it chews a hole right through us. Then, we have this great, big old, festering hole of a wound right there where our soul and humanity are supposed to reside. Yet, something is going to come in and fill that space up. Make no mistake about it, something will. And in the world we live in today, odds are that the “something” that comes in will be something your very life, happiness, and contentment are at war with. Choose God, choose life, choose contentment.

Thank you so much for reading!   

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