Tell us first how you came to faith in Jesus.
I first became aware of a supernatural presence when I was four years old. I sat in our living room during a thunderstorm and watched lightening flash through the edges of the closed curtains. I believed if something could be that loud and that powerful, a superior being must have created it. The question was: whether that superior being was friendly or unfriendly.
Today the memory strikes me as profound—that I could question that deeply about such an abstract concept. Concrete reasoning is the norm until a child is about ten years old. I have often thought this was a gift—an awareness of God’s presence when I was so young, especially since I didn't grow up in a Christian home.
From that moment, I believed in the existence of God. It wasn't until later that the person of Jesus Christ became real to me. I will save that story for another time. Alternatively, you can read Seventh Dimension – The Door and gain some insights.
Where did you get the idea for your latest book?
Three years ago after I wrote my adoption memoir Children of Dreams, I sat at my desk one afternoon pondering what I should write next. I dismissed several nonfiction ideas. If I’m not passionate about a topic, how can I expect my readers to be excited about reading my story? I had an unusual concept, but I didn't have the knowledge to write fiction and I couldn't write it as nonfiction.
I was a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and had published a children’s picture book but I felt inadequate to write a full-length novel. If I wanted to write this story, I would have to learn more about the art of writing fiction.
At that time, I enrolled in Perelandra College. After three years of study, I wrote Seventh Dimension – The Door as part of my Masters in Creative Writing. Where did the idea come from? Much of the story comes from my own life, but I will leave the reader to ponder which parts.
I was careful to avoid “Christian” words and instead used generic terms like king, magic, seventh dimension, underlings, and garden. I wanted the story to appeal to troubled teens, but a Christian would recognize the symbolism.
What do you want readers to take away from your writing and this book in particular?
The overarching message or theme of Seventh Dimension – The Door is this: “You are a daughter of the king.”
What part of this book did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I enjoyed writing the resurrection story from a different perspective. I also enjoyed writing the angel scene because the angel described so much of what Shale had gone through that she didn't understand. It was an opportunity to share deep insights into the revelation of God in a creative and unconventional way.
What are your hobbies other than writing?
I have scuba dived all over the world. I hope someday to have an opportunity to make more dives. I have felt closest to God when diving. I struggle to fathom why God created so much beauty underneath the ocean that so few people will ever see. It reminds me that God loves beauty so much that He creates it just because He loves to create.
I draw a comparison to writing. I write because I love to write –even if no one ever reads my books. It’s in the process of writing that I most glorify God. That means the outcome is in God’s hands. When you think about it, writing then becomes very freeing—knowing God is in control of who reads your books. You are writing for an audience of one. Scuba diving taught me to take risks, stretching me physically, mentally, emotionally, and physically, and has become a metaphor to me for writing.
What is your favorite book by another author and why?
I Iove the classics. My favorite all-time book is a classic—Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. As part of my Masters in Creative Writing, I studied the lives of several classic authors. Many of the Masters suffered severe hardship and their writings manifest such stories. They wrote out of their wantonness, engaging the reader in stories meant to convey life lessons. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress from a jail cell.
I am probably in a minority, but I don’t read just for entertainment— I read for takeaway. How can this story make a difference in my life? What can I learn from this book? That’s why I love the classics and why they are classics. The stories have staying power because they speak to people’s hearts—needs that are eternal and struggles that are universal. Those are the kinds of books I hope to write.
Favorite childhood book?
I don’t have a favorite childhood book, but the question reminds me of a story I want to share.
My mother was a big reader and I would see her reading a lot, but we were poor so I didn't have any books. For my sixth birthday, someone gave me a book. I couldn't read it and I could never get my mother to read it to me (there was no father and my grandparents lived a thousand miles away). I would look at the pictures on the pages and make up my own story.
When I started school, I had trouble learning to read. I also had a speech impediment. As a result, the kids made fun of me and I felt stupid. I failed first grade because I couldn't read.
When I was in third grade, I was home sick with a sore throat for a week. I had brought home my third grade reader from school. Bored, I opened up the book and began reading. The first story I read was about a Seeing Eye dog and a child that was blind. I realized for the first time, I actually enjoyed reading. From that moment, I became an avid reader. Reading became an escape for me. I also began writing short stories. I fell in love with words, stories, and books, and that has remained a lifelong passion. It just goes to show how one story in one book can change a person’s life.
My book trailer is there (I made it), as well as the first chapter of my new book, – The Door, A Young Adult Christian Fantasy, and my book as a free audiobook for whoever wants to download it.
For every child who struggles with doubt, for every kid who has been bullied, for every teen who comes from a broken home, and for every young adult who longs to be understood—this book is for you.
Seventh Dimension – The Door, A Young Adult Christian Fantasy
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