The NovelistThe Novelist
Angela Hunt
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Jordan Kerrigan's spy novels have sold millions---but her mentally ill son, Zack, seems beyond her power to help. As Zack's behavior grows increasingly dangerous and suicidal, Jordan's internal "inside the book" world overlaps with her painful everyday existence. A deeply moving exploration of fiction, faith, God's sovereignty, and man's free will. 320 pages, softcover from WestBow.
     

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Angela HuntChristy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes books for everyone who enjoys being caught by surprise and digging a little deeper.  Her books are very diverse and include such books as Uncharted, A Time to Mend, The Novelist, The Truth Teller, The Awakening and The Debt. Angela  lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband and two children.
 

Favorite Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you,"declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

 


 

 Read Our Interview with Angela Hunt

The Novelist deals with some edgy, relevant issues!

My husband is a youth pastor and lately weíve come across many families that are dealing with mental issues like bi-polar disorder and drug dependency. Unfortunately, these are things nobody wants to talk about.

How personal are your novels?

The novelist, Jordan Casey, is a lot like me. As a mother I have felt some things that she is feeling, some of the emotion and frustration, and how hard it is to work while your world is stressful. Any working woman can relate to that. In that sense, yes, itís autobiographical, but Zack is not my son. I created him from a composite of people and issues.

How did you choose the ending for Zack?

Any parent who is going through this kind of struggle with their kids knows there is no neat and tidy ending. I think the only thing we can do is love our children and get them the help they need, get ourselves the help we need, and be there for our kids. My husband and I have talked about the sovereignty of Godóitís been a comfort to know that God is in control no matter what happens.

How did you choose the multiple story lines?

Iíve been working on my masterís degree in theology. When I was studying Godís sovereignty in one of my theology courses, one of my books posed the question, ďWho killed Macbeth?Ē Well, in a way Shakespeare did because he created that plot point. I thought that was the perfect way to illustrate Godís sovereignty because He does order and plan our lives while we have free will within the confines of our story. We act and think on our own, but God knows us so well He orchestrates our situation so all our decisions are ordained. So I thought that was the perfect way to illustrate Godís sovereignty and manís free will. A lot of people say that if God is sovereign then we are only puppets, but itís not that simple. We do have free will but we are not independent. God is still over us.

Someone once said that all you have to do to write a novel is to sit down and open a vein. I had the character named Ian throw that up in Jordan Caseyís face. I think this book was more challenging for me because I went far deeper in this book than in any of my previous novels. As Lisa Samson likes to say, "I opened the vena cava."

Do you outline a book before you write it?

I do what I call a ďplot skeleton,Ē a very bare bones outline. I fill it in as I write.

How did you choose the characters?

There are two sets of characters in The Novelist: the exterior story with Jordan and her family and the interior story with William and the people in Paradise.

The novelist, Jordan, was easyósheís a lot like me.

Originally I was thinking the interior story was going to be Adam and Eve set in a casino instead of a garden. The more I thought about it, the more perfect the setting seemedóit had temptation, beauty, and a forbidden room. God is not against fun and the original game room was designed to represent our enjoyment of Godís creation. It was only when the people of Paradise began to circumvent the Creatorís plan that they got into trouble. We always run into this question: ďIf God wanted us to be happy, why did he put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden? Why did He make it possible for us to sin? I thought the casino was the perfect way to illustrate and answer that question.

How did you come up with the idea of the casino?

I sat around and played with alphabet letters until I could find words that would spell casino if certain letters were removed. I thought a casino was a perfect metaphor because people become addicted to gambling in the same way they become addicted to sin. I read some books on slot machines and studied the psychology that slot designers use. Slot machines are designed to take your money. Designers ask themselves, ďHow can we entice this person? How can we make him think heís almost won?Ē So they program those machines to stop ľ inch short of the jack pot.

Satan does the same thing. He tempts and entices us with situations designed to trip us up.

Do you teach college courses?

I teach writing all over the place, especially at writersí conferences. In fact, last week I was out all week teaching at elementary schools, but Iíve never taught at a college like Jordan did.

Would you please explain a novelís story arc?

Basically your main character has to establish a goal and overcome complications that prevent her from reaching that goal. As Jordan was writing Williamís story, she was demonstrating how to write a story arc, but at the same time she was living through one. Her goal was to write a book that would speak to her son, but dozens of complications almost kept her from doing that.

Writing The Novelist was almost like a three dimensional game of chess-- God would do something in my life, which made me do something in Jordanís life, which affected her handling of the people in Williamís world. Every little move influenced everything else on the three-dimensional chess board.

You seem to choose allegories, is that your signature style?

A few years ago, I was in my office and I had one of those moments when the Spirit speaks clearly. It was suddenly obvious to me that Jesus taught through parablesóstories that meant one thing on the surface and another thing for those with the ears to hear. Iíve always had a heart for reaching the world, but people outside the Christian community donít often pick up Christian novels.

So I thought that I could write stories that are entertaining and gripping on one level and have a spiritual meaning on another level. Not all people will understand every symbol or every spiritual nuance, but I can always bring out certain issues through discussion questions at the end of the book.

Would you classify The Novelist a contemporary or visionary book?

Probably contemporary. But itís really two books in one. The inner story is visionary.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

Staying fresh. I write about what the Lord is teaching me so I have to stay in a receptive mood. Itís too easy to get caught up in the routine of life.

How long did it take you to write The Novelist?

I took about five Ĺ months, which is a long time for me to spend on one book.

How much research did The Novelist take?

Since half of the book is visionary and the other half comes from my life, it didnít take as much research as you might expect, but I did have to research bi-polar disorder and slot machines.

Who was your favorite character in The Novelist?

Iím rather fond of the dittens.

Are there any new projects on the horizon?

Yes, thanks for asking. WestBow has rereleased The Truth Teller with The Novelist.

A Time to Mend releases in March 2006, from Steeple Hill.

And Magdalene releases in April 2006, from Tyndale House. Iím excited about that book because The DaVinci Code movie releases in June. Magdalene is biblical and well-researched treatment of Mary Magdalene.

Finally, Uncharted releases in June from WestBow. I describe it as "The Big Chill" meets "Lost," the T.V. show. The novelís really out there.

Iím working now on The Elevator, which will release from Steeple Hill in the spring of 2007. Three women with secrets are stuck in an elevator with a hurricane approaching.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The best thing you can do is attend a good Christian Writerís conference. There you can learn all you will need to know about how to write, sell, market, and find an agent. You donít learn those things in college. I recommend the Florida Christian Writerís Conference, the Glorieta Christian Writerís Conference (New Mexico), the Philadelphia Christian Writerís Conference, and the Colorado Christian Writerís Conference. In March 2006, Nancy Rue and I are leading a ďFrom Plot to PublishedĒ conference in Colorado Springs.

What message would you like your readers to take from The Novelist?

That God really is in control. I have found his sovereignty to be so comforting. I grew up with the notion that God had a perfect plan for me but I could mess it up if I wasnít careful. Now Iíve come to realize that even my goof ups are part of the process and plan. When bad things come my way, theyíve been screened by the hand of God. Everything is part of my maturation and my development and God uses even the bad stuff to form the character I will carry with me into eternity. So itís all terribly important.

Itís so liberating to realize that the bad things around us are not the result of a fallen world that takes precedence over Godís goodness. Christians are fond about quoting that scripture about Satan walking around like a roaring lion, but we have to realize that Satan is on a leash. His nip may hurt and we may suffer, but we werenít called to carry a feather bed. We are called to carry a cross.

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