The Cross & the Pen: Author Angela Hunt
- Eva Marie Everson Contributing Writer
- 2004 28 Oct
Welcome to “The Cross & the Pen,” Crosswalk.com’s author-to-author interview column!
Please allow me to tell you about my friend, Angie Hunt, though you may already know her as Angela Elwell Hunt! The first time I met Angie was at a bookseller’s convention. She was sitting on a bench chatting with fellow artists and I just stood there in awe! I mean, here was Angela Hunt …author of, now, 64 novels.
Soon thereafter, Angie and I were both on “faculty” at a writer’s conference. I was pretty bummed that I had to teach during her workshops. Something told me I could cram in a lot of learning under her tutelage! But on the way to the airport, we had the opportunity to share a ride and I learned that we were fellow Floridians!
So, with one hurricane behind us and another one in front of us, I picked up her latest novel, "The Awakening" (Thomas Nelson/WestBow Press), 2004. I couldn’t put it down. This one, I think, is a keeper! Now, as Hurricane Frances was over and Hurricane Ivan was on the way, I got in touch with Angie pronto and chatted about her novel. Wanna listen in?
Eva Marie: Okay, Angie ... one novelist to another. I absolutely LOVED your book! I mean, I'm reading this, going, "I am a terrible writer compared to this! I should stop writing altogether and become a professional novel reader!"
Angie: Oh, I know that feeling — happens almost every time I pick up a book. (Blushing), thanks, but believe me, as I was writing I was thinking, "this is so terrible I might as well give up!" "The Awakening" went through many rewrites.
Eva Marie: Well, okay. That makes me feel a bit better. (Not!) This is undoubtedly one of the most unique stories and storytelling I've ever encountered as a reader ... and I've been reading nearly my whole life. From a writer's perspective, it's done, well, differently! So, let me ask you this first: why did you decide to write more in a "present" tense than a "past" tense?
Angie: I pulled present tense, first person from my writer’s toolbox because I really wanted a feeling of immediacy. In order to pull off the dream sequences, I knew they’d have to have the feeling of actually “being there,” and that seems to work better in first person and present tense. The reader experiences things in the same instant as the character.
Eva Marie: Ah, that writer’s toolbox, eh? Okay … here's the other interesting tidbit about the writing format: double first-person indicated only by the apartment they live in. Were you afraid your readers would have trouble discerning who was speaking?
Angie: I was hoping my readers would catch on to the cute little set up at the beginning of each chapter. Apartment 15A was Aurora’s (A for Aurora), 15B was Phil’s (B for Boy), and 15C was Clara’s (C for Clara). Maybe I was hoping for too much, because I have heard from readers who found that a little confusing at first.
Eva Marie: Actually, I had no trouble at all. I guess it’s no different that walking into an apartment complex and saying, “There’s Jill’s front door, there’s Sean’s, there’s the one with man who has the funny little dog. …” For me, it totally worked.
Let's talk about dreams. Your female lead, Aurora, has some fairly vivid dreams. I was reminded of the dreams God spoke in — from those stories we read about in the Bible. The Genesis Joseph to the Joseph of the Gospels. God speaks in dreams. Were you afraid someone might say, "Hmmm. Is this God or does this woman need drugs?"
Angie: Is “this woman” Aurora or me?
Eva Marie (laughing): No! No! Aurora!
Angie: Actually, I believe dreams come from our subconscious most of the time, and God can certainly speak through dreams and through our subconscious. One reason I wrote the story was to illustrate the many ways in which God does speak to us, and Aurora closed off all the other channels — she wouldn’t read the Bible, she wouldn’t watch Christian television, she wouldn’t listen to her neighbor, she wouldn’t go to church, and I think it’s a fair bet she wouldn’t read Christian novels. So God did what was necessary to get her attention.
Eva Marie: Well, maybe she’d read one of ours … who knows? Now, this is definitely a modern-day parable. Want to share some of the "secrets?" Like the names, the characters, the locations?
Angie: I don’t want to tell too much, but the names of Aurora and Philip, the two main characters, come from Disney’s famed "Sleeping Beauty." I do have a sense of humor, but it’s usually buried pretty deep into the text. …
Eva Marie: Oh, my gosh! I never even caught the "Sleeping Beauty" angle and I have granddaughters! Angie, what kind of research did it take to pull a story like this together?
Angie: I had to research New York apartments, of course — I actually found a book with floor plans of apartment buildings and scoured through them until I found a layout that would work for Aurora, Phil, and Clara. I read books on agoraphobia, but actually learned more from talking to Patsy Clairmont (a past sufferer from agoraphobia) than from reading. I read books on dreams, and concentrated on Scripture verses like John 6:44 and 65, in which Jesus says that no man can come to him unless God first draws him. That’s what I wanted to show — just as Aurora’s father desperately wanted to know her, our loving Father God will do whatever it takes to woo his children and bring them into the family.
Eva Marie: Okay, I have to throw this in here: my first three novels take place in NYC and, knowing the real estate there is quite different from say … here … I did an awful lot of reading and interviewing myself. To me, it’s one of the most fun things we do as novelists!
My favorite line, in your book, comes on page 100 and it goes like this: "God has nothing to say to me." I bet I reread that line about five times, thinking...WOW! There really are people out there who feel this way. ...
Angie: Of course there are! Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to get out of my “spiritual cocoon” and reach into my neighborhood (I wrote about this in my book "The Debt"), and I’ve seen this evidence of this attitude. If they only knew how much he has to say!
Eva Marie: Final thing … for those out there who really do feel that God has nothing to say to them, would you offer up a short prayer?
Angie: Father, I’m so grateful you haven’t finished striving with those of us in the family who occasionally want to go our own headstrong way, and those who haven’t yet discovered the joy of becoming a child of God. I look at all the ways you speak to us — through the skies, the glory of nature, the wonder of the animal kingdom, the miracle of your Word — and I pray you will continue striving and speaking until the barriers come down. Help us to awaken, Lord, to the needs of people around us, the unseen agonies of our neighbors. Help us to be sensitive to your voice, so we will know when it is time to speak or act in your name. I offer this prayer in the fellowship of my brothers and sisters and in the name of Jesus, our savior — AMEN.
Eva Marie: Amen.
Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes books for everyone who wants to expect the unexpected. With more than three million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of "The Awakening", "The Debt", "The Canopy", "The Note", "The Pearl", and "The Justice." She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband and two children.
Eva Marie Everson is the very busy author of fiction works like "Shadow of Dreams", "Summon the Shadows", and "Shadows of Light" and nonfiction works like "Intimate Encounters with God" and "Intimate Moments with God." To find out more about having Eva Marie come to speak to your group, please visit www.evamarieeverson.com. Eva Marie and husband Dennis have been happily married for over 25 years.