April, give us a can’t-wait teaser for your new book, Shine the Light.
Shannon, photographer of the downtrodden, is out to save the world. But when a man from her past appears, her world crumbles into PTSD episodes that threaten her hope for a future. Will she overcome these debilitating memories, or will her past win and leave her broken forever?
Okay, April, you win. Now I can’t wait to find out if Shannon succeeds. Did anything in particular inspire you to write this book?
I got to know Shannon and her dedicated friendship for Amber in Hold the Light (the first book in the series) and I just admired her so much, I needed to find out what made her tick, what hardships she’d faced, what she had to overcome. It also gave me the opportunity to delve deep into the causes and triggers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is more and more a part of so many people’s lives that I’m sure readers will find this topic a draw. What surprised you the most during your deep research?
PTSD isn’t just for soldiers. It can happen from childhood trauma, auto accidents, health incidents. There are a lot of people out there dealing with images and experiences tainted by something that happened before. Some will recover, many can’t.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
An empathy and understanding of our fellow humans and their experiences. That they could look at someone with compassion and grace rather than harsh social judgements and condemnation.
That’s a great goal, April, reaching readers for an opening of the heart through fiction. Did you face any serious challenges in writing this book?
Truly my own physical challenges. Sitting at the computer for more than an hour leaves me in a lot of pain in my neck, shoulders, and arms because of tendonitis and arthritis. It was literally a work of faith to show up every day and get down what I could before having to just stop. It made getting into the story a huge battle some days. But as I prayed, God would show up and enable me for what time I could to get the words out. And somehow, by God’s grace, it appears to make sense! And a story was born.
Definitely an act of faith on your part, April. Authors face challenges from many different fronts, and I suspect many of your fellow word-crafters will be encouraged by your battle and victory.
Do you have a recurring theme that pops up in your writing?
The one common thread in all my books is that in good times, even tragic times, God is with us and still loves us. We are not forgotten. We often ascribe human tendencies to God, but He’s not forgetful, He doesn’t betray us or abandon us. When we belong to Christ, then we have full access to God and the strength He can fill us with to help us through whatever we face.
Is there a specific reason behind your choice of contemporary fiction?
I have a heart for contemporary and social justice issues. Not for the sake of just pointing them out, but to bring light and compassion to others who might not have looked at a certain demographic very closely before. I think if we had more empathy for another’s pain, we would act in a more loving way, the way Jesus would love and fight for those who have no voice.
Has this heart-felt drive toward compassion and empathy led to any author-reader encounters for you?
My first novel, Jasmine, is about a woman who ran away and was trafficked but escaped with the help of a mentor and gets an education, becoming a counselor for at-risk teens. I had a woman come up to my table and read the back cover of Jasmine. Her hands began to shake, and she turned to her husband and said, “This is my story.” I’ll remember that moment forever. When you can write in a realistic way where another can see themselves in your story and be encouraged—that’s incredible.
Wow – what a moving experience to see a fictional scenario come to life like that.
In a physical sense, do you have any unfulfilled dreams, a bucket-list, if you will?
I would, one day, love to go to Scotland and go to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh museum. He’s an architect and designer I admired in art school. He did it all. From the carpet, to furnishings, to the stained glass—the building, the brick. All of it. That would be incredible.
When you’re not writing, do you work a day job or participate in other activities that draw on your time?
My day job is still homeschooling my son. We graduated my daughter in 2016, and she’s now a junior at University. My son is a sophomore in high school. So we have a few years left yet. I don’t think that influences what I write. But my art and architecture background from my previous day job, an interior designer, does. It helps me picture scenes in great detail in my mind. I often sketch the dwellings and buildings my characters interact with and it helps them become more concrete in my imagination, freeing me to use description in a way that relates to the reader on a different, more detailed, level.
It seems to me that including those sketches in your books might draw readers in even more. I would love to see an author’s “thoughts” that prompted them in their writing.
You’ve mentioned children, how about pets? Any that challenge or inspire you?
Ha. I have three black kitties, all under the age of two, who keep me very busy. They love to help me by lying on my computer or getting into things. But mostly, they give me lots of unconditional love (yes…cats do that, too!) and bring me warm purry comfort on hard days.
Sounds like a purr-fect match! (sorry) Tell us about your next project.
My next project is a shift from fiction to non-fiction. I’m working on a book that will guide the reader from a place of hopeless suffering to a place of solid Joy with the Lord. It speaks to the issues at the heart of all my work—if you belong to Jesus, all your sorrows can be turned to joy through Him.
Thank you, April, for sharing such encouragement with us today. And best to you in your next endeavor.
For more about April and her books, please visit April’s website.
Thank you for visiting the CAN blog.
May all that you read be uplifting.