Greetings from Marti Pieper in (as I write this) nearly flooded Seneca, South Carolina. I’m delighted to share this interview with author Linda Rooks today, in part because her new book sounds exciting and in part because she’s a dear friend. I served with Linda on the leadership team of Word Weavers Orlando during my years in Florida. I know you’ll enjoy reading about her and how God is using her writing!
Welcome, Linda! Please tell us about your book.
Pieces of Dark, Pieces of Light spans two continents to weave together a captivating international suspense thriller in which family secrets and forgotten dangers from history resurface in the future with a dramatic outbreak of international crisis, family connection, and personal discovery.
What is the primary focus of your book?
Although the main story line of Pieces of Dark, Pieces of Light revolves around the challenges of an American diplomat (Janssen LaMarche) as he tries to simultaneously contain a dangerous discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Tajikistan while also dealing with personal health issues, the primary focus of the book is captured in the title, Pieces of Dark, Pieces of Light. Through a number of suspenseful twists and turns, at the heart of the story is how God uses both the dark times in our lives and the light ones to work things together to create a beautiful picture when we give it all to Him.
That’s lovely and intriguing all at once. What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
Because my novel is a futuristic suspense thriller and involves time travel, with portions of the story set in Washington, D.C., and others set in the country of Tajikistan, the story required extensive research from many different sources.
But the most challenging part of it, which has also brought a lot of laughs, was the research and writing for the futuristic setting. I actually began writing Pieces of Dark, Pieces of Light a number of years ago and did extensive research and reading about projected future inventions, life styles, weaponry, and so on as well as having conversations with various experts. As time went on, a couple of other writing projects diverted my attention, and this was put on the shelf for a bit. When I returned to the writing, I started seeing some of my futuristic projections already coming to be with “smart phones” as watches, robot vacuums, and auto features such as voice controls and blind-spot warnings. I laughed each time I saw another of “my” inventions coming to real life in the present.
The science involved in the time-travel scenes taught me a lot about worm holes, lasers and nanotechnology. Pulling it all together to create a believable, exciting, and fun experience for the reader opened my eyes to the ability of the creative mind to achieve almost anything you set your mind to.
You have an amazing ability to write in different genres, Linda, but I think this is the most unique yet! What’s your favorite scene in this book?
My favorite scene comes when Janssen (the main character) is traveling back in time and revisits a few moments with his mother the day she was dying. It’s a poignant scene where there is a memorable exchange between Janssen and his mother, and he remembers seeing heaven shining through her eyes. Since she’s a Christian and he is not, he doesn’t quite understand it until much later in the story.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
The theme I find myself returning to in my writing is Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”
I have seen this truth unwrapped so many times in my own life and want to encourage others with its hope. When we face challenges and feel overwhelmed with problems, God is still in control. If we can trust Him and put everything in His hands, He will work it all together to bring “beauty from the ashes” (Isa. 61:3) This theme runs through my books for those in marital crisis again and again, and it’s the primary theme of Pieces of Dark, Pieces of Light.
It’s one that resonates with so many of us. How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
Being a writer has made me more dependent on the Lord. Over and over again I sense the Holy Spirit putting words in my mind that flow seamlessly through my fingertips onto the keyboard when I myself feel at a loss for what to say. Sometimes when I’m trying to figure out what to write or how to say things, when I wait on God, He gives me a blog post or devotion or words that are just what I need. It’s so easy to get impatient or frustrated when things aren’t going the way you want, but when you wait on God, you find His timing is really perfect after all.
Amen! Why do you love writing?
I love words, and I love putting them together. I see writing as an art, similar to sculpting or composing. Instead of starting with a lump of clay, we as writers start with a blank sheet of paper and move words around, watching them take shape until they begin to sing a rhythm to our ears. Word by word, we mold phrases and sentences and paragraphs together until our imaginations spin them into an inspirational message, or a story leaping and dancing across the page. The joy of seeing something beautiful come out of this is very special.
I guess this is also the reason the editing process can be very hard during the publishing of a book. Sometimes for the sake of the genre, word length, or an editor’s preferences, some of our “darlings” have to go. But when we love the writing process and love the art of it, we’ll just continue doing it. One reason I enjoy writing my Heart Talk blog is the freedom I find in doing it.
It’s a great way to connect with your readers, I know. Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.
Honestly, I have had so many touching moments with readers, it’s hard to pick just one. Because two of my books are for those in marital crisis, I frequently interact with readers by email and sometimes in person. But I guess I would choose the first time a reader told me that she was writing through her tears to tell me how the book had touched her heart again and again so that she carried my book, Broken Heart on Hold, around with her everywhere she went, slept with it, and had read it three times. I was extremely moved and surprised.
When readers tell me their marriage was reconciled and it was a chapter in my book that helped them “let go” and give it to God, I am thrilled. And when other readers have said that even though their marriage wasn’t reconciled and it was the hardest thing they’d ever gone through but don’t regret it because it brought them closer to God, and my book played a part in that, I know God is truly at work, and I am humbled that He has used me in it.
I know God has used your books to touch many. What ministries are you involved in and why?
My husband and I lead a ministry at our church called Marriage 911. It is for those in marital crisis. Because he and I went through a three-year separation over 20 years ago now and saw God restore our marriage, we have had a passion to help others realize there is hope for them as well. We have seen many, many marriages restored with couples enjoying many happy, fulfilling years together afterward. We’ve led this class for over 14 years, and each year one of the highlights is when past participants come and share their stories.
That is so rewarding, and I know your real-life example is irreplaceable for participants. Do you have pets, and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
We presently have two cats and have always had either cats or dogs in our home. They have always inspired my writing because their antics give such insights into life, relationships, and God’s relationship to man. A couple of years ago, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat published one of my stories about our two cats called “Missing Skittles.”
Tell us about your favorite library memory.
My favorite library memory occurred while I was in college. Our college library had cubbies where you could hover in private at a desk all by yourself with no distractions. I would sit there and become enraptured in my writing or sometimes in a book I was reading. The warmth of the smell of books and the solitude of the enclosure allowed my mind to visit other worlds and places while enjoying the coziness of the moment.
Tell us about your next project.
For now, I plan to concentrate on my blog. It’s called Heart Talk and has the tag line “Finding Hope in Unexpected Places.” Also, I want to spend time in promotion of my thriller, Pieces of Dark, Pieces of Light. But I do have two other books over half written, and I’ll see how God leads me in those. One is written like either a devotional or a gardening memoir, again carrying the theme of my blog—finding hope in unexpected places. The other is a biographical book about Al Taliaferro, one of the creators of Donald Duck. And I have another suspense novel in mind as well. So I’m waiting on God to see how He leads.